How Emma Flint writes

Emma Flint “I was obsessed with her for six years. I thought about her every single day, sometimes for hours every day… She is made up of shades of grey. She has got all these different aspects to her. I wanted to show that there’s no such thing as black and white in a real human being.”
[ in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, October 7, 2016]

Emma Flint

Emma Flint is talking about Ruth, the central character of her debut novel Little Deaths. The story was inspired by a true crime case from the 1960s. Alice Crimmins, a New York mother, was accused of murdering her two children. Flint first read about the case twenty years ago in the weekly Murder Casebook magazine. Ruth and the nosey neighbour are based on real characters, the rest are made-up by Flint.

She did most of her research online, including:-

  • reading contemporary press coverage of the double murder;
  • used Google Street View to wander down the streets of Queens;
  • watched YouTube videos to nail the local accent.

Crucially though, she used her own experience of growing up on the outskirts of Newcastle to add “that claustrophobia you get in a small suburb where everybody knows each other. Anything out of the ordinary is noticed and anyone who doesn’t quite fit in stands out enormously.”

The combination of fact and fiction is one she plans to exploit again, saying he has “probably dozens of true crime stories that I could turn into books.”

Read my review of Little Deaths here.
For more about Emma Flint, visit her website.

Emma Flint


‘Little Deaths’ by Emma Flint [UK: Picador]

See how these other authors write:-
Kevin Maher
William Maxwell
Kate Atkinson

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Fiction based on real life: how @flint_writes #writing via @SandraDanby