Thursday, January 19, 2023

Interview with Zoe Rosi, PRETTY EVIL

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?

My latest book is Pretty Evil. It’s a novel about a ‘MeToo serial killer’ called Camilla Black. Camilla is a vigilante murderer of bad men – rapists, abusers, paedophiles and creeps. She’s a fashion magazine editor by day and killer by night. I describe the book as ‘The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho.’


Do you have a favorite character?

Yes, I adore Camilla. She is a very out-there character. She’s bold and has quite an edgy personality. I’m really proud of her as I think she’s a unique creation. It was important to me that her story and her motivations as a serial killer were believable. This involved doing a lot of research into psychopathy and forensics, which was dark and disturbing at times, but worth it to create Camilla.


Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?

Yes. I have self-published and been traditionally published. Prior to writing thrillers, I wrote romantic comedies. I had four romantic comedies published with a top 5 publisher and self-published two. I then got an agent who helped me land a two-book deal with a traditional publisher for my thrillers.


How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?

About two weeks! We went on submission with my novel, Pretty Evil, which had been published a year earlier by an indie press as Predator. I’d managed to get my rights back, which was fortunate, and as a result of the book having been published before, it was very polished. I think this helped me gain a deal quickly. My agent sent the manuscript to Thomas & Mercer, who were our first choice of publisher and they offered us a deal.


What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?

When I was querying, I had a lot of agents compliment my writing style and hook, but they often then went on to say that my Pretty Evil was ‘too violent’, ‘too dark’ and ‘too graphic’. This frustrated me as I didn’t see that as a bad thing. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is incredibly violent, graphic and dark, and yet it’s an iconic book that has sold millions of copies. Like American Psycho, my novel is told in first person from the perspective of an extremely twisted serial killer. Of course, it is going to be dark, graphic and violent. If it was anything else, it would be inauthentic. I realized I had to find an agent who understood this and didn’t want me to soften my novel. I was not willing to turn my character, Camilla, into something she was not in order to pander to risk-averse people. I was going to stick to my guns.


I could tell when I first spoke to my agent, Rukhsana, that she loved Pretty Evil exactly as it was and truly appreciated its dark nature. Rukhsana had no interest in changing or softening my book and believed in it as it was. This is how I knew she was the right agent.


Thomas & Mercer also had a similar approach to Pretty Evil, appreciating it as it was, rather than wanting to tone it down. This is a key reason why I signed with them.


If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?

I was keen for my cover to feature a woman’s lips as I liked the idea that readers could pose with the cover over their own face. I thought this would be fun and good for marketing. The final cover of my book is sultrier and darker than I’d imagined it would be, but I really like it.


Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?

I outline. I really enjoy outlining and I like to know where my story is heading. I can’t imagine writing a novel without some kind of roadmap. Naturally, new threads and ideas arise as I write so the final story is usually somewhat different to the original outline.


Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?

No, I don’t personally hire editors for my books. Even when I self-published romantic comedies, I edited them myself. I know this isn’t recommended, but I’ve been working in copywriting, proofreading, journalism and publishing for a long time now so I felt I could self-edit. 


What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?

For me, this only applies to my self-published rom coms, but I learnt that a good cover and blurb is essential as no matter how good your book is, if these aren’t on point, readers won’t buy it. I also think it’s important to not only be able to write books but to have the time and energy to learn about advertising. If you’re not interested in learning about this, it’s probably better to go down the traditional publishing route.


Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?

Yes, this can be quite challenging. I think it’s important to pace yourself and find balance. If you’re not careful, writing and marketing can take over your life. I’ve certainly overdone it at times and this is something I’m now mindful of.


What’s next for you?

My novel, Pretty Evil, has been optioned for TV and is being adapted by a screenwriter. This is incredibly exciting. Seeing my character, Camilla, on screen would be a dream come true! I’m also working on several new thrillers, which I hope will be published soon.



You’ve done a bad thing. She has you in her sights. Now you’re going to pay.

Meet Camilla Black: an affluent, respected, influential fashion magazine editor, who lives it up in her beautiful Mayfair apartment. But Camilla’s glamorous life is a lie. Behind her poised exterior beats the cold dark heart of a vigilante killer, a murderer hell-bent on wreaking vengeance upon bad men.

Camilla expects to get away with murder. She’s careful. And anyway, it’s worth the risk. She’s making the world a better place with each predator she kills. But when one of her victims’ bodies is unexpectedly found, his gruesome death is splashed all over the papers.

To make matters worse, she’s now being pursued by Detective Wheelan, a new addition to the Met with laser-sharp focus and a worrying habit of solving impossible crimes…

She knows she should stop, but she can’t. Some men just deserve to die. Will Camilla’s insatiable appetite for justice be her downfall, or can she outsmart the police?

Revised edition: Previously published as Predator, this edition of Pretty Evil includes editorial revisions.







Author bio:

Zoe Rosi has a background in journalism and copywriting. She worked as a reporter for local and national newspapers before moving into the fashion industry as a copywriter. 

Zoe had four romantic comedies published before writing her debut thriller. It was while working as a fashion copywriter that Zoe had the idea for Pretty Evil, which she describes as The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho.


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