Helen FitzGerald (born September 21, 1966 in Shepparton, Australia) is a bestselling novelist and screenwriter. Her debut novel, Dead Lovely, was originally published by Allen & Unwin in September 2007 and her latest novel, The Exit, was published in February 2015 by Faber & Faber. Viral, her next novel, is due to be released in February 2016.
She was raised in the country town of Kilmore, Victoria, being the twelfth in a large family of thirteen children. She studied English and History at the University of Melbourne, before later attending Glasgow University where she completed a Diploma and Masters in Social Work. She began writing while working as a criminal justice social worker, where for a period she worked with serious sex offenders in Glasgow's Barlinnie Prison. She quit this job for a time to focus solely on her writing career, before returning to the field part-time. She cites her experience as a social worker an inspiration in the subject matter of her writing.
FitzGerald began as a screenwriter, producing a series of educational children's dramas for BBC Scotland. However, she became frustrated with the industry when none of her subsequent screenplays were produced and turned to novel-writing. She states that the rules of screenwriting are very stringent, but that in having learned them she has improved as a writer.
Her books are mostly thrillers, though she herself has described her genre as "Domestic Noir", a term coined by her fellow author Julia Crouch.
FitzGerald has written twelve novels to date:
- Dead Lovely, published 2007
- The Devil's Staircase, published 2009
- My Last Confession, published 2009
- Bloody Women, published 2009
- Amelia O'Donohue is SO not a Virgin, published 2010
- The Donor, published 2011
- Hot Flush, published 2011
- The Duplicate, published 2012
- Deviant, published 2013
- The Cry, published 2013
- The Exit, published 2015
- Viral, published 2016
A few critics noted that FitzGerald's first book, while generally described as a crime novel, did not follow the traditional rules of the genre. They argued that it belonged to a different, more psychologically complex tradition, characterised by the dark humour and flawed anti-heroines of writers such as Tama Janowitz and Fay Weldon. Novelist Mark Abernethy wrote of FitzGerald: "She has managed to do what Fay Weldon did in The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, which is to find the joke in what appalls us." Australian critic Sally Murphy described the novel as compelling but hard to classify, with "elements of chick-lit mixed with ghastly scenes of murder and retribution", while Adelaide writer Cath Kenneally highlighted FitzGerald's technique of underpinning audacious and potentially shocking material - "working blue" - with "sociological acumen".
The Cry has received the widest critical acclaim of any of FitzGerald's novels to date, with Fitzgerald's friend Doug Johnstone from The Independent on Sunday stating: "Astonishingly good. It is utterly harrowing, completely plausible, constantly nerve-shredding ... It plays on the deepest, darkest fears of all parents about their children, and embeds that everyday terror in a plot so up-to-the-minute that you'll swear it's been lifted from the pages of a newspaper ... The Cry is a remarkable novel - its devastating power all the stronger for its realistic rendering. Brilliant stuff."
FitzGerald has been nominated for several awards, including:
- The 2010 Davitt Award for The Devil's Staircase
- The 2010 Spinetingler Award for The Devil's Staircase
- The 2012 Davitt Award for The Donor
- The 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for The Cry
- The 2014 Davitt Award for The Cry
- FitzGerald, Helen (2007-01-01). Dead Lovely. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781741762532.
- "More FitzGerald for Faber | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- FitzGerald, Helen. "What it's like to grow up with 12 siblings?". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Helen Fitzgerald :: Authors :: Birlinn Ltd". www.birlinn.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Author details | Scottish Book Trust". www.scottishbooktrust.com. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Interview: Helen Fitzgerald, author". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- Post, Jessica. "Helen Fitzgerald - Allen & Unwin - Australia". www.allenandunwin.com. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
- "Helen Fitzgerald | The Exit | Author Interview | The Skinny". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- FitzGerald, Helen (2013-09-05). The Cry (Main ed.). Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571287703.