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Krysten Ritter on modelling, writing her debut thriller and the joys of working with David Tennant

Why did you do the book?

I’d had the idea for a long time and was reading a lot of thrillers. I was developing it as a TV pitch but then started thinking of how the character could be better served in a book. The first series of Jessica Jones was a tough act to follow — it’s such a great part and so rich, and doing the book was a way to almost build a role for myself rather than wait for a film or TV offer to come in. It’s a way of making my own path in my career and I really enjoyed it.

How did you find the writing process?

There’d be nights where I was pacing around the apartment at 4am but you get over the hurdle and keep going. It started as a couple of paragraphs, then an 11-page treatment, then I plotted everything out with index cards. I worked in chunks, which made it less overwhelming. It took two years to finish the first draft.

Good egg: Krysten is a big David Tennant fan PICTURES: REX

There are environmental issues in the book. Did you do a lot of research?

I did but that was inspired by something that happened in my hometown. I’m from a small town and a few years ago the frackers arrived and told people they’d give them $2,000 if they let them drill on their land and their gas bills would be cheaper. They didn’t tell them there was a risk of it contaminating their water, which might affect their livestock. If people don’t know better, they can be taken advantage of.

A lot of the book is about high school. What were you like?

In between. I wasn’t in the super-cool crowd but I wasn’t in the other crowd, either. But I understand the feelings of being that age and being the target of gossip. It can feel like the end of the world.

You started working as a model when you were at school. Did that cause any problems?

I was scouted when I was a teenager and if you’re different at school, sometimes that’s not a good thing. As an adult you know being different is good and it makes you who you are — but people would talk about me behind my back, stuff like, ‘She’s not even pretty, how’s she a model?’ I felt alienated by that, for sure.

What jobs were you getting?

Catalogues and things in magazines like Seventeen, which some of the girls at school read. Some people thought it was so cool, others definitely didn’t. Then I got to work in Japan one summer followed by New York the next.

First job: Krysten modelled in mags like Seventeen

Was it a lot to deal with at the time?

It was hard to go back home. I was exposed to the big, bad world and it was fun. I met weirdos, I met people who I related to, and it highlighted how different I was in my small town. It didn’t feel overwhelming — I was along for the ride, it was exciting and fun.

Has the work you get offered changed since Jessica Jones?

I have more opportunities, which is great, but Jessica Jones is a really great part so I want to do things that challenge me as much but in different ways. It’s now more difficult to say yes to things I would have done five years ago. I might get more calls now but there’s not a lot of great stuff happening in the marketplace for women.

What do you mean?

Playing a stripper in a big movie. ‘But she’s a stripper who calls all the shots and is the voice of reason’ — I don’t care, I still don’t want to play a stripper or wife to an actor who is my dad’s age.

Are you still in a band? What was your worst gig?

I play my guitar still but don’t record at the moment — it’s more therapeutic. As for the worst gig, I just don’t remember the worst thing about anything. I always look for positives. So when someone asks ‘What’s the worst?’ I’d have to think about it for hours because it doesn’t come readily to me.

Have you always been like that?

Yes, I’ve honed it like a ninja. I’d rather be happy and focus on the positives than be a grump and think about all the things that are terrible. I don’t want to live like that.

Will you work with David Tennant, your co-star in Jessica Jones again?

I hope so. I’m trying to raise the money to do a film adaptation of a stage play with him. I love him. He’s a good egg and so talented. He’s a dream to work with. He’ll do a scene differently every take because he’s so well prepared — I learned a lot.

Bonfire (Hutchinson) is out now