Louise Phillips: On her debut novel Red Ribbons & how to create a killer author website

I met Irish writer Louise Phillips originally on Twitter and then in person and was delighted when she announced that her debut crime novel Red Ribbons would be published this September by Hachette.

Louise Phillips returned to writing six years ago after a 20 year gap spent raising her family, managing a successful family business, and working in banking.

A strong short story writer she has won the Jonathan Swift Award, been shortlisted for the Bridport UK Prize and the Molly Keane Memorial Award, and has been published in many literary journals and anthologies. But it is with crime fiction that she is now taking her place as a striking debut novelist.

Red Ribbons is a “searing suspense novel” and “a gripping page-turner told from three points of view – criminal psychologist Kate Pearson, institutionalised patient Ellie Brady and the killer himself.” The novel is set in the Dublin Mountains where a missing schoolgirl is found buried “hand clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair.” When a second schoolgirl is found in  a similar state, it becomes obvious there’s a serial killer at work. The novel sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it. I’ll be grabbing my copy at the official launch at Hughes & Hughes St. Stephen’s Green on Weds Sept 5th 6.30. However I’m delighted to be hosting a post from Louise on the official publication day of Red Ribbons.

I’ll pass you over to Louise now to explain how she went about conceiving and creating her new author website www.louise-phillips.com

Creating my author website

This week sees the launch of my debut novel RED RIBBONS, a psychological crime thriller published by Hachette Books Ireland. For me, this is a dream which got lodged into my subconscious when I fell in love with books.

When you set about writing a novel, your first and most important job is to write the story to the best of your ability. When you’ve done that, well, you will probably end up writing it again, editing it a couple of times, and then finally it’s ready – job done – well not so fast!!

There are a few other steps along the way to becoming a published author, and one of these steps, if you’re the adventurous kind, is creating your own website J

Alison, has kindly asked me to share with you a little about the process behind the creation of www.louise-phillips.com

Website concept and original notes

It all began with a concept, and here are my original design notes:-


Haunting/Dark/Sinister/Sensual/Fear/Unhinged/A Story to be told


Ease of transition between elements of the site – Sliding/Smooth/Interactive feel for users – Not click/click

Clear pathways – interlinked – clear where you can go next info – see suggested Structural Frame with folders and sub-folders.

Dark/Natural Shades

Key influences

  • Cover image of RED RIBBONS
  • Concepts for second Novel – THE DOLL’S HOUSE
  • The Author

Structural Maps

lt all sounds good so far? Well next was the first stage of structural maps – folders and sub-folders.

By this I mean things like asking

  • What happens on the landing/home page?
  • Where do the links on the navigation bar go to?  What links do you include on the navigational bar? And when you reach one point – where next?
  • If the navigation bar, both top and bottom do similar things, how do you want the user to use other elements of the page/site?
  • If there is an image, do you want the image to be the next link?
  • If you add text, how much text, and where will it lead?
  • When you get to various aspects of the site, what is the clearest route back, working your way through different frames?
  • At each point, there is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, and a different function. How you deal with media? It is very different to how you deal with the ‘About the Author’ page, or the ‘About the Book’ page.
  • Which pages should have live News?
  • Which pages should have live Twitter feed?
  • What social media icons work best?
  • And how do you incorporate your blog if you have one or want to incorporate one?
  • What about subscription lists, contact details, reviews, updates?
  • And finally what kind of Management System is right for you.

I could probably do a post on every element mentioned above, but suffice to say, when starting down the road of creating a website – give yourself time to think through the process fully.


Moving very quickly on, the next step is ‘content’. What? Surely we must be past content? Ahem, NO!

The content of your website is like the story between the cover of your book. It is KEY.

I made the decision early on that I wanted to include details of how the characters came to be, how the story of RED RIBBONS was formed, and that extracts would be part of the website.

Midway through I made the decision to use artwork for each of the three main characters, to give each of them their own element of the website, and carry this on as a subset within each novel


I also wanted the website to be alive, and not some dead thing that people only visit once. Which is why I have included options for updating reviews, news, media links, twitter feeds, details of my next novel (THE DOLLS HOUSE), and why I definitely wanted to incorporate my existing blog.

I intend to shift emphasis on the site when the second novel is released next year – the website will get a face lift! And again I will revisit many of the elements discussed here.

Key Advice when creating an author website

  • Plan ahead.
  • Search images and websites on line.
  • Learn what you like or what you feel best represents the kind of message you want to apply.
  • Allow sufficient time to work and rework concepts.
  • Draw structural frames – what happens next?
  • Think about mood, imagery, type of transitions.
  • Make key decisions on Management system, Domain name, hosting, integration of blog etc
  • Consider the end user – what’s in it for them? Will the visit be of value?
  • And always be thinking – what next?

It is still early days, and there are still some things changing with the site, but it is more or less there now – so why not go pay a visit, and if you do, let me know what you think.

And don’t forget to check out the trailers under media, and if you like what you see, and you do order RED RIBBONS, come back and let me know what you think of the novel too.



Red Ribbons is published by Hachette and available in all good bookshops and online.

Link to order on Amazon.com


Website:           www.louise-phillips.com
Twitter:             @LouiseMPhillips
Facebook Page HERE