The ‘Eureka!’ moment by Alex Lake


Killing Kate came about when two otherwise unconnected ideas I had came together in an unexpected way.
For a while I’d been considering writing a novel about a serial killer, but I wanted it to be a serial killer with a difference – a twist on the psychopath who’s fulfilling some sick fantasy or getting revenge for some perceived injustice perpetrated against them.  I wanted the killer to have a very specific motive, a very unusual motive, a motive which I will not reveal here…

packshot-in-archway I was also interested in the sense of threat that a serial killer creates in a community, particularly a small community. In Killing Kate there’s a sense of suspicion, of people retreating from their neighbours and friends as the killings continue.  And then there’s the impact on the individual: what if the victims all looked the same, and what if you looked like the victims? That’s the situation Kate Armstrong is in and I wanted to explore her reactions, try to understand what her state of mind would be.

Of course, primarily she’s scared. Terrified. But – as I mentioned above – this is a serial killer with a difference, so she has much more to be scared of than she knows…

The second idea I’d been considering writing about was the dynamics of friendship – specifically childhood friendships: those ones that start when you get to school aged five and then last through junior school and high school and into adulthood. They are rich ground: so deep, so intense, so deep rooted. You grow up with those friends, spends days and weeks and months and years in each other company. You share music and books and experiences, good and bad. You shape each other; later friendships never quite have that quality.

So I wondered: what would happen if there was one of a group of friends who, for some reason, suddenly broke with the others? Rejected them; left them behind without explanation. They would be left feeling diminished, their group incomplete. And then I wondered what would happen if the reason was not fully known to them – maybe because they were too young to recognize it – and it was therefore left unresolved, lurking in their past, ready to come back and haunt them…

With these two ideas, I had the bones of Killing Kate. There was still a lot of work to do to figure it all out, but the basics were there. I remember it well: I was meandering around a swimming pool early one morning and it all came together. I will confess that, as I was in water when it happened, I had a little Archimedes moment and let out a muffled cry of ‘Eureka…!’

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