A Good Girls’ Guide to Murder took YA publishing by storm when it was released in 2019.
Now, New York Times best-selling author Holly Jackson is back with the third and final installment in the series.
We sat down to discuss the novel, Jackson’s plans for the future and more…
Can you tell us a bit about your new book As Good As Dead
In As Good As Dead we join Pip just a few months after the end of book 2, preparing to leave town soon for university. Pip is haunted by how her last investigation ended, convinced that she needs just one last case in order to set everything right and fix herself. And the universe seems to answer, dropping a case right onto her doorstep, and this time it’s all about Pip.
She has a stalker; one who knows where she lives. But as she starts digging, she discovers connections between her stalker and a serial killer who has been in prison for six years.
Is it possible the wrong man is behind bars and the right man is watching her? Everything in Little Kilton is about to come full circle and, if Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears…
Does the huge success of your previous books help or hinder your focus when writing? Was there pressure to repeat that success or did it give you confidence when completing Pip’s story.
To be honest, all of that is a totally separate being to the writing process. I always want to write the best story possible, regardless of any markers of success or thinking about sales. To me, this trilogy tells one interconnected story, which was a decision I made as soon as I knew I was doing even one sequel. That hasn’t changed at all despite the crazy journey A Good Girls’ Guide to Murder has been on since then.
Of course I hope people are satisfied with the finale and feel it matches up. But for me, I know it’s the story I wanted to tell and the ending that this series deserved, and that’s the only kind of ‘success’ I have control over.
Your novels seem to be getting progressively darker. Will that trajectory continue with future books or can fans expect a complete U-turn?
Yes, things have definitely got a lot darker as the A Good Girls’ Guide to Murder series has continued, which I think was the only natural progression for the story and for Pip’s journey. To be honest, I expect my books will stay in this dark, horrible crime-y space for a while. It’s where I feel comfortable – not sure what that says about me!
But I feel like my books are very much toeing that line between what is acceptable in YA, lurching towards crossover/adult, which is where I’m sure I’ll venture at some point in my career.
As with the answer above, the thing I always prioritise is the story and what it needs, not necessarily outside markers like age category. I know my books won’t be for everyone, as they aren’t really comfortable reads – in fact, I’m pretty sure As Good As Dead will be a horribly stressful book to read! But I think there’s so much that can be done with crime thrillers, and I’m definitely nowhere near done playing around with murderers and horrible people.
Which of your minor characters do you think deserves a novel of their own?
I reckon Pip’s dad, Victor, has a tale or two to tell in his time! Other than that, I think the most interesting would be to follow one of the players involved in any of the main crime mysteries. Victor’s life probably doesn’t have enough murder in it to satisfy me.
With the trilogy coming to an end, how do you feel about leaving Little Kilton for the last time and writing new stories and new characters?
Honestly, at the time when I wrote THE END on As Good As Dead, I was so overworked and burned out that I didn’t really have anything left in me to consider what an occasion it was and how it was an end of an era in my life.
I am sad to be saying goodbye to my good girl Pip. I owe her everything and MY GOSH have I put her through the wringer. But a series has been hard work (especially with the amount of time I’ve had to produce each sequel) and I am really looking forward to a couple of standalones, where I can explore new characters and settings, and find some other awful ways to torture my poor little fictional offspring.
If you could have a dinner party with three writers, alive or dead, who would they be and why?
I’m going to go with three titans of mystery thrillers/horror: Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and Agatha Christie. I feel like someone might just get murdered at that dinner party.
Which song would make the perfect soundtrack to As Good as Dead’s final scene?
I have the answer to this, because there is a song I listened to as I wrote it (having decided it was the perfect song while plotting). It is Lewis Capaldi’s Before You Go.