Readers often wonder what inspired a writer to write the particular book they have just enjoyed, and it’s a fair question to ask, since the novel may deal with a subject that is somewhat out of the ordinary or a place they have never been. I know I find it interesting to have some background information about a book I have enjoyed. What about you? Let me know in the comments if you feel the same. With that in mind, here is a snippet of insight into the inspiration behind some of the novels I’ve written.
Much of my inspiration springs from personal experience. I grew up not knowing my birth father and, over the years, concocted many stories to explain his non-appearance in my life. As an adult, I became a very private detective, since I was my only client, and set about finding out who he was and where he was. It’s a theme I return to in many of my writings.
Family Matters, my first published novel, revolves around a woman whose husband abandoned her and her two young children. She’d like to know why, and what happened to him. Eleven years later, after her son dies, she discovers that he’d been trying to trace his father, so she follows the steps he took in an effort to find out how much he’d uncovered. In this book, I draw on some of the procedures I used to trace my father. Paperback.
Making it Home has, as part of its theme, leaving home and whether it’s possible to make one’s way back. The main protagonists are three women who become friends and help one another overcome their different problems while each works out what ‘home’ means to them and where ‘home’ is. Part of the inspiration for this novel was what I knew was discovered in an elderly aunt’s home after she died. Paperback.
In Flying Free, the main protagonist loses contact with her father, when she and her mother leave the family home when Jayne is still a young child. So, in effect, it is she and her mother who are the missing people in this novel. The story traces Jayne’s efforts to come to terms with the why and how of the situation. Paperback.
Here at the Gate is a story of a secret past, one threatened with exposure. Who is Mhairi? And why is she so afraid of what her daughter might find out when she traces the family tree. The inspiration for this novel was a snippet of a family story related to me in childhood. Paperback.
In researching for my novels, I found that:
Approximately 2,300 Americans are reported missing—every day.
This includes both children and adults, but does not include Americans who have vanished in other countries, individuals who disappear and are never reported, or the homeless and their children.
That’s somewhere around 900,000+ a year.
In Britain alone, an estimated 250,000 people go missing every year. Many of those cases are resolved by police; just 2,500 people remain untraced more than a year after they disappear, some of them stay missing long after a year, ten, twenty, thirty years and more.
But that can still mean those who are contacted by police or other authorities do not return home and that families are not told if their loved one is alive or safe.
A closed case simply means the police are confident that no crime took place.
And how many of these missing people are children or young teenagers?
It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year.
800,000 children in the U.S; 40,000 children in Brazil; 50,500 in Canada; 39,000 in France; 100,000 in Germany; and 45,000 in Mexico; 230,000 in the U.K.
And in most of the developing world—including Africa, Asia, and Latin America—no one is counting missing children.
These (probably wildly out of date now) figures, while chilling, also show me that the fictional stories I have written or will yet write are a drop in the ocean compared to the true stories no-one is writing.
I know how it feels for someone to be ‘missing’ from your life. I wonder how many of you know that feeling too? If you feel you’d like to, please feel free to share your story in the comments.
The Reluctant Detective Series, is about Mirabelle, a rather eccentric lady whose daughter went missing. While searching for her daughter, Summer, she builds up a network of contacts and, with the help of them and her friend, DI Sam Burns, she finds other missing persons and is able to reunite them with family.
People become aware of her expertise in this area and begin to come to her for help. Reluctantly, she becomes a bit of a private detective and her home becomes an unofficial missing persons agency.
Mirabelle is mostly able to find young women, in their teens or early twenties. Those who have not been missing too long. Though her expertise stretches further, and, with the help of her network of unusual contacts, she’ll have a try at finding anyone.
The first of the series, Searching for Summer, is mainly focused on Mirabelle’s search for her daughter, and the building up of her network of helpers. As her reputation for finding missing people grows, she becomes increasingly involved in other cases, the reluctance of the title of the series being because each case takes a bit of the focus off Summer. Paperback.
Traces of Red, the second book in the series, takes Mirabelle out of Edinburgh, her usual searching territory, and further north in Scotland, up as far as Pitlochry and Aviemore, helping in the search for a missing husband, and two missing young women, one of whom could be the mother of the abandoned baby, found in Edinburgh. Paperback.
And the third in the series, Rusty Gold, takes Mirabelle and her assistant to the Island of Skye, searching for the daughter of a dying woman. The missing daughter, whose life may be in danger, is also an old friend from Mirabelle’s schooldays, and finding her proves both difficult and exciting. Paperback.