Killing Eve Book: The Novellas That Inspired The Series

By Amelia Slater

2nd July 2020

Killing Eve Book: The Novellas That Inspired The Series

Find out about the Killing Eve books and writer Luke Jennings’ novellas that inspired the critically acclaimed series starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.

Killing Eve, if you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know about it, is a British black comedy-drama spy series which sees British intelligence agent (Sandra Oh) go head to head in a deadly cat-and-mouse game against psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer).

The two women become unequivocally obsessed with one another, developing a very twisted, toxic love story.

killing eve book and series sandra oh jodie comer

Image Source: Den of Geek

Is There A Killing Eve Book?

The popular series, headed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is in fact based upon a series of books by Luke Jennings.

The story of Eve and Villanelle transpired as a string of novellas (writings that are longer than a short story but shorter than a novel) titled Codename Villanelle from 2014 and 2016.

Luke Jennings published three books; the first of which came out in 2018 under the book title Codename Villanelle and contains all the first four novellas.

eve and villanelle - villanelle holds a knife to eve's throat

Image Source: /Them

Codename Villanelle

Codename Villanelle follows the story of Russian orphan, Villanelle, who murders the people responsible for killing her father. She then trains as an assassin.

Fast forward a few years and we land to where the TV series begins: with Villanelle running a muck around the world and leaving a string of murders behind her, whilst detective Eve Polastri begins to chase her.

eve and villanelle lying on bed

Image Source: /The Verge

The Novellas Were Adapted For TV By Fleabag Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Writer and actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge exploded onto the scene back in 2016 after hit BBC series Fleabag – which she created, wrote and starred in – became a success.

On the process of adapting the espionage, black comedy novellas at the request of executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle, Phoebe Waller-Bridge revealed at a Television Critics Association Press Tour:

‘Sally actually put the novellas in front of me, which is how the conversation started. I read the first novella and just fell in love with these characters, thought they were just wild.

‘I hadn’t seen them before and just was desperate to stand them up.’

phoebe waller bridge emmys

Image Source: /The Verge

She admitted that the producer ‘took a chance on her’, joking:

‘But I think [she] thought I was mildly perverse enough.’

How Does The Killing Eve Book Differ From The Series?

The creative team behind the Killing Eve television series took Luke Jennings’ novellas as an ‘inspiration’ and ‘start-off’ point.

Actress Sandra Oh, who plays the troubled FBI agent Eve Polastri, has said that her character is more ‘serious’ in the novellas than her on-screen depiction.

Telling the Television Critics Association panel, she said:

‘I would say in the novellas, the character Eve was much more serious.’

Eve’s Character In The Book Is Written As ‘White’ And ‘British’

Unlike the British fictional Eve in the books, Sandra Oh’s Eve is actually ‘half-British’ after being born in Connecticut but living and working in London.

We couldn’t imagine her any other way!

eve polastri killing eve

Image Source: /TVLine

Sandra added:

‘Eve was, as I interpreted the novella, was white. I am not white. I am Asian. And I will say that I was extremely pleased that that was taken into consideration in the casting–and also wasn’t taken into consideration in the casting, if you know what I’m saying.’

Luke Jennings Reveals His Thoughts About The Series

Writer Luke Jennings worked alongside the producers and loved how the series turned out.

He also applauded Sandra Oh’s portrayal of Eve, telling Town & Country::

‘What we had in Sandra was someone who absolutely embodied the spirit of that role and did so with a wonderful humor that nobody else that was seen for the role really saw. She saw the humor in it, the wit, and the self deprecation.

‘Sandra is a wonderful actress because she has no vanity about the way that she presents herself. What you see is a very transparent performance. And that’s just perfect for that role.’


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Luke Jennings Has Released Two More Books Since The Series Began

The success of the series has seen British author Luke Jennings release two more books since Killing Eve hit our screens.

No Tomorrow was published in 2019 and the third and final instalment in the book series – Die For Me – hit the shelves just a few months ago.

killing eve villanelle series 3

Image Source: /W Magazine

The Books Are Still In Stock On Amazon & Waterstones

If you want to read the books that inspired the screen adaptionCodename Villanelle, No Tomorrow and Die For Me – you can still get your hands on copies from Amazon and Waterstones.

killing eve book codename villanelle

Image Source: /Amazon UK

Killing Eve series 3 premiered on BBC America on 12th April 2020 and on BBC iPlayer the following day.

A Killing Eve season 4 has been commissioned *cue excited screaming* so stay tuned!

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