Get to know Elizabeth Klehfoth, the author behind the page-turning thriller All These Beautiful Strangers

All These Beautiful Strangers has boarding schools, secret societies and lots of glitz and glamour.


Elizabeth Klehfoth’s ‘All These Beautiful Strangers’ is a young adult murder mystery told from multiple points of view and several timelines. Warning: If you’re looking for a book that won’t take over your life – we advise you to steer clear of this one.

Find out what happened when we sat down for a chat with Elizabeth below.

For those who haven’t yet picked up a copy of ‘All These Beautiful Strangers’ how would you entice them to pick one up?

If you love twisty, page-turning thrillers that involve dark family secrets, boarding schools, secret societies and lots of glitz and glamour, you’ll like ‘All These Beautiful Strangers’.

We love Charlie’s character in the book, she’s a strong female protagonist who speaks her mind and doesn’t require saving – is she based on anyone?

Charlie isn’t based on anyone in particular, but I have a lot of strong female role models in my life, from my mother (who always taught me to think for myself and stand up for what I believe in) to my sister and friends (who are all strong independent women forging their own paths in life).

There are three main POVs from different time periods within the book – was that difficult to plan out and write?

It was a bit tricky, yes, because I wanted certain revelations to occur for the reader at very particular points in the book, and I had to keep track of not only what the reader knows but also what each character knows and when they know it. I created a very detailed 20-page outline of the chapters and events in the novel before I started writing, and I wrote the book in the order that things appear for the reader, rather than writing things chronologically with the past narrative first and then the present.

That helped a lot in terms of getting the reveals right for the reader. Revisions were tricky because some events got switched around and I rewrote some chapters from other character’s points of view (for example, some of the chapters that are now in Grace’s POV were originally written from Alistair’s, and vice versa). So, I had to go back and reread things from the beginning to make sure things still made sense and the reveals still landed where I wanted them.

Knollwood Prep features a secret society called the A’s – which three celebrities would you like to have by your side if you had to undertake initiations?

Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson and Taylor Swift—three smart, independent women who would be great allies.

Taylor Swift All These Beautiful Strangers
Image source: Giphy

The book also deals with grief and suicide, why do you think there’s still a taboo around this within YA and was it difficult to write about?

Anytime you’re dealing with a heavy and complicated issue like suicide, you feel a certain responsibility to get it right, to render it in a way that feels true, rather than watering it down or sugar-coating it, or slapping on a one-note message.  In the book, there’s a character who’s very affected by a friend’s suicide and trying to capture her grief felt very personal. I’ve never lost anyone I was extremely close with to suicide, but I have lost a few distant friends to suicide and I’ve experienced other deaths of loved ones and other heartbreaks, and I tried to draw upon all of that when writing about this character’s grief. Revisiting those things isn’t easy, but in some ways, it does feel cathartic to transfer those feelings to a character and put them down on paper. Grieving a loss can often feel very lonely, and writing about it is a way to share and connect, which can be very healing.

Overall, though, as a genre, I think YA does a good job of tackling tough issues, and I don’t think there are too many topics anymore that are taboo or untouchable.

Can you tell us what a typical writing day looks like for you?

During the week, I write in the late afternoon and early evenings. I get a lot of my writing done on the weekends. One of my favorite things to do is go to a café, order brunch and a coffee, and sit and write by myself for a few hours.

Coffee All These Beautiful Strangers
Image source: Giphy

What’s one book you could read over and over again and never get bored?

I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and I reread it every couple of years. I love the familial relationships in that book and the intricacies of the characters. And of course, it’s a great love story.

What’s one character you wished you created?

Elizabeth Bennet

Lastly, what advice would you give to people looking to start writing their own novel?

My biggest piece of advice is to just get something down on the page and not be too judgmental of it. Hitting the mute button on your own inner critic is one of the biggest hurdles to writing. A lot of times, what you first put down on the page may not be very good, and that’s okay. You need that bad first draft to get to the better second draft and then the good third draft. One thing I do that really helps me is I set a goal of a certain word count I want to reach every time I sit down, and I just write towards that, not letting myself worry so much about the quality of the writing. That’s very freeing and I find the less critical I’m allowing myself to be, the more I get done, and the better the writing actually is.

‘All These Beautiful Strangers’ is available to buy in the UK and US now.

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