Image source: harpercollins.com.au
Kellie's debut novel 'Heiress on Fire', a story of an unlikely female duo working together to bring down a murderer, was published last month and we had the pleasure of asking her a few questions that we thought of whilst reading it.
Click here to see our reviews.
The marriage of Aussie billion-heiress Indigo-Daisy-Violet-Amber Hasluck-Royce-Jones-Bombberg to conscientious reconstructive surgeon Dr Richard Bombberg has come to a spectacular end. In the middle of a cocktail party, Indigo set him and a mysterious redhead on fire. And then blew them and her penthouse up. All terrible accidents.
When detectives discover explosive device remains in the charred penthouse, they're gunning for Indigo. Unless she can remain upright, stuff her dignity into her Chanel clutch and uncover the mystery redhead's identity, she's going to jail.
To help Indigo, her semi-retired, semi-Buddhist, supermodel mother hires Esmerelda, a recent graduate of the model mentor prison program, as Indigo's personal assistant. Indigo and Esmerelda traverse Sydney's upper-class underbelly picking locks, outsmarting bankers and leprechauns, beating up feared gangsters, breaking into hospitals, setting a cathedral on fire (another terrible accident), bribing a giant fireman and some other stuff.
How hard can all this be for an heiress and a felon?
What was the process in creating the character of the infamous Esmerelda? Is there anyone in particular she is based off?
Esmerelda’s Asian Australian background is definitely a reflection of the incredibly wonderful women of Asian descent in my own life. I think Esmerelda has many qualities I would like to have. Even some of her flaws I think I would like. She’s intelligent, wily, gutsy, audacious and unapologetic. She knows who she is and she’s okay with herself. That sounds simple, but it’s not, at least not for me! I haven’t managed to achieve it yet.
At the same time, she’s ambitious. I think that’s something we struggle with. Is it okay to say, ‘I want more’? And not just in a material sense. Esmerelda is willing to really push the boundaries of who she is and what her ‘place’ in the world is. She’s not interested in what you think of her or where you think she belongs. She’s walking her own path and watch out if you’re standing in her way.
In another interview, you said it is important now to make sure you are not “pushing something that’s artificial". The characters in Heiress on Fire are full of depth and as readers we get to know them well as the novel progresses. What relationship do you ideally want the reader to have with Indigo? What is your relationship with her?
I think readers develop relationships with characters that are just as varied and diverse as their relationships with people in their real lives. People like people for all kinds of quirky reasons. That’s how I feel about Indigo, I don’t love her because she’s thoughtful and doting and selfless (because she’s not!), I love her because she’s frightened and hapless and just trying to keep it together. She’s trying to work out who she is on the path less travelled.
Her life was controlled by her father, then her grandmother and then her husband. She was never driving the bus. She was too afraid. It was safer to let someone else do it. The problem with that is that the scary, uncertain, crappy bits of life are so often the parts that help us grow and find out who we are.
Ideally, I’d like readers to connect with what ever parts of Indigo resonate with them. But at the end of the day it’s not something I would like to try to control. It has to be organic. Otherwise, it’s not real.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Tea, snacks, housework, isolation. I desperately wanted to include as many Australian locations as possible and had trips (and interviews) booked interstate last year for research (I won’t say where, spoiler). I just had to push through not being able research face-to-face. Given what so many others have been through during COVID, not something I’m prepared to complain about.
Was the story always going to be told from Indigo's POV? If it were to be from a different character, who would it be?
At one stage it was going to be a movie script! So no, not always first-person novel!
Perhaps I could do it from the perspective of half a dozen characters – like Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series?! I think that would be super interesting!
For each review we post, we give 3 words we personally would use to describe that book. We' love to know, what 3 words would you use to describe Heiress on Fire?
Fierce. Bananas. Genre-Chameleon.
Where do you think Esmeralda and Indigo are now? I love them as a duo so I hope they are still together! It would also be so cool for more on Esmerelda’s back story, and to learn more about her life. Maybe one day?...
Yes, they’re definitely still together. There are so many more adventures to be had for the accident-prone heiress and her felonious assistant/personal shopper.
Indigo manages to stumble into trouble without really leaving the house, which seems about right. Esmerelda has gotten herself into a small pickle that most people would die to get into, but that she’s desperate to get out of.
Book two in the series is with the publisher, Harlequin HarperCollins, I’ve finished the research for book three which I’m writing ATM and I’m also cooking up book four in my head.
It’s fascinating watching Indigo and Esmerelda evolve. It’s hilarious watching them fall over. And inspirational seeing them get back up—go shopping, have a spa day, work some stuff out—and try again.
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for sending us a review copy of this book.
You can find more information about the book and purchase a copy here.