- A brief summary.
My psychological thriller Guilt begins with a stabbing, leaving one twin sister dead, and the other accused of her murder. After the opening scene, past and present story arcs are intermingled, gradually revealing the reason for the fight and, at the crescendo of the book, the person who died. I do not think it is too much of a spoiler to add that a dark and mysterious man comes between the sisters, putting their love to the ultimate test. Written through the eyes of the three main protagonists, and using two timelines, it was great fun to write.
- Guilt was inspired by my deep personal female friendships.
Stemming from the fact that I have very close girlfriends, and sometimes devilishly wonder what would happen, if our relationships were stretched by a third party, I have wanted to write a triangular story, about two women, and the man who comes between them, for a long time. Even though I am not lucky enough to be a twin, I chose twin sisters because I imagine them to have one of the tightest female bonds possible.
- I love dual time line psychological thrillers.
My love of the historical dual timeline psychological thrillers of Kate Mosse, including Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel, and Barbara Erskine’s Lady of Hay, Sands of Time and River of Destiny, have also greatly inspired me to write Guilt.
- Guilt is set in Bristol
Bristol is a vibrant city which fascinates me. I have spent a lot of time there as both my sons attended the University. At various stages they both lived in shiny, trendy flats on Harbourside, similar to Miranda’s. I visited Bristol on a number of extra occasions to research Guilt. I talked to a criminal barrister about procedural detail, and watched a murder trial he was working on. A female ex-prisoner also very kindly invited me to her home and discussed her recent experience at the local prison, Eastwood Park, with me in detail.
- Zara and Miranda were brought up in Formby.
Formby is a dormitory town outside Liverpool, where I lived as a child. Revisiting my childhood hometown forty years on, researching for the book, was a strange experience. Physically everything was so familiar, and yet I no longer belonged. I knew the place so well, yet not a soul knew who I was, so much so that I walked around in my own weird zone, like an invisible ghost.
- Zara is a cutter.
Before I started writing this novel I attended a training course for people who need to give support to cutters. This experience, both enlightening and disturbing, very much influenced my depiction of Zara.
7. The Stabbing Scene
My GP friend who lives next door, popped to my house to advise me on the stabbing scene. Since I became a writer she has helped me concoct medical emergencies on a number of occasions. Together we have conjured an unfortunate homeless person with a cerebral haematoma for a short story, several episodes of drug induced unconsciousness, and the occasional death.
- Police Perspective
My ex-next door neighbour, another close friend, has frequently given me the police perspective over the years. He is a big fan of crime fiction, and seems to find it easy to imagine the scene and give me the exact information I need.
- There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to make it even worse.
I found this quote by googling. It is taken from The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson. My novel ascribes to this attitude I think.
- Coping with guilt.
I cope with guilt by trying to avoid guilt causing conduct as much as possible. By over agonising over small decisions, in case I hurt or offend someone. By never being unfaithful. By never stealing. By trying to respect society at all times. But guilt is both a burden and a threat. Most of us end up living with it at some point in our lives, however hard we try to step away from it. Guilt fascinates me. That is why I wrote about it.