Whenever I start the process of developing ideas for a new book I will always begin by reviewing my own life. I can honestly say that some real experience appears in every book I have written. After all, my own experience of life has to inform the way I look at the world, how I interpret the way people react, or how I predict they will behave. This doesn’t mean that every book I write is autobiographical. None of them are.
The autobiographical elements might be quite insignificant - fleeting moments retained like snap shots in my mind's eye. I'll maybe use something that happened to me as a jumping off point, not in the sense that it will necessarily begin the book, but that it will work like a seed from which my story grows. It could be something funny, flattering or off-the-wall, which prompts the 'what if...?' question. But a real life incident can never be slotted into a story exactly as it happened to me. I always find I have to alter it, to shade and embroider to make it fit my story-line.
The incident which actually initiated TORN, occurred while travelling to Somerset by car. I was a passenger on the nearside and was looking out at the passing scene. We passed a turning on the left. In the moment or two I had to absorb it I saw a lane sloping steeply down to the heart of a village. The road we were on had obviously been widened and made into the A road to by-pass this narrow village centre.
At that instant the random thought which went through my head was: ‘I bet those villagers were pleased.’ But it was swiftly followed by another. ‘Though I doubt the people who lived up here were delighted to have the main road re-routed past them.’ I went on to reflect that life is actually never that simple or black and white. There are always two or more sides to every question, and........... The whole story grew from there.
Here and now, I have to make it clear that TORN is not a muddy story about road protest! But it is a story about opposing attitudes to life, different ambitions and competing allegiances.
Jess has taken her 3 yr old son and moved away from London intent on escaping her racketty past. She expects life in the country to be simple, peaceful and undemanding. Here she will be able to live 'the good life' and to concentrate on her role as a mother. But there’s conflict over a proposed bypass, conflict between friends with very different agendas, conflict between her own nature and her good intentions. And she finds herself torn ...... between the suitable man and the unsuitable boy.