Author Interview: Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn’t add up, and a girl who’s determined to find the real killer—but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

CHILLS. This book was AMAZING. Experiencing the twists and turns of this case along side Pip and taking risks along side of her sucked me into the audiobook. I particularly enjoyed how all of her logs, interviews, and case notes were laid out throughout the story. Each interview sounded like something straight from a true-crime documentary. Pip was relentless in her pursuit of the truth, and the ending had me gasping and on the edge of my seat.

Sam, bookseller at Bright Side Bookshop

Everyone in Fairview knows the story. Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town. But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day.

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent…and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger. This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

We spoke with Holly Jackson about what inspired her to write A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, the importance of independent bookstores, and more.

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I don’t think this book would exist had I not discovered true crime podcasts; that’s how significant their role has been in shaping this book and me as a writer. The memory on my phone is almost wholly occupied by true crime podcasts—both ones that spend a whole series diving deep into one murder, and ones which tackle a new crime story each episode. I probably know far too much about notorious serial killers, which is a weird flex but it’s true.

It’s not just the stories which have inspired me, but really the format that long-form true crime amateur investigations take. I wanted to write a book that had the texture of one of these podcasts, so that the mystery would feel more accessible to the reader and they could fully step into their detective shoes, alongside the main character Pip. The mystery in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is presented as a written school project, but, if you scratch the surface, Pip’s project is a thinly veiled true crime podcast from the perspective of a seventeen-year-old, and an investigation turned obsession.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

I think what makes the audiobook for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder so special is the way it wholly embraces the true crime podcast vibe, which inspired the book in the first place. With a full cast and sound effects, you truly feel like you are listening to the interviews that Pip conducts during the course of her murder investigation.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

Yes, and I think what strikes me most is how incredibly immersive the experience is. The full cast of voice actors and accompanying sounds effects truly bring the story to life, and make this mystery feel like something that is real and tangible. These parts of the narration feel like you are no longer listening to a book, but a TV show which is made just for your ears.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

Yes! Just as I am an avid fan of true crime podcasts, I also love listening to audiobooks—especially on journeys or whenever there are household chores to be done!

I enjoy listening to mystery and crime thrillers, but I also love listening to audiobooks of genres I don’t get to read as often, such as fantasy or sci-fi. One recent audiobook highlight was Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The production was amazing and, again, the full cast and sound effect treatment really brought the book to life.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

I am so incredibly grateful for the amazing enthusiasm that independent bookstores have shown for this book. And I still can’t quite believe that my book is now on these shelves (both physically and virtually). Going into bookstores has always been a formative experience for me, made even more magical by the dedicated booksellers who are always ready with a smile and a great book recommendation.

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