Guest Post: Setting of The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

Tuesday 2 September 2014
I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for Louise Millar's fantastic new novel The Hidden Girl. Today Louise is discussing the setting for The Hidden Girl which certainly makes for interesting reading. The Hidden Girl was the first book of Louise's that I read and I loved it, so look out for my review very soon.

When a country life dream turns into a nightmare . . .

Hannah Riley and her musician husband, Will, hope that a move to the Suffolk countryside will promise a fresh start.

Hannah, a human rights worker, is desperate for a child and she hopes that this new life will realise her dream.

Yet when the snow comes, Will is working in London and Hannah is cut off in their remote village. Life in Tornley turns out to be far from idyllic, who are the threatening figures who lurk near their property at night? And why is her neighbour so keen to see them leave? Plus Will's behaviour is severely testing the bonds of trust.

Hannah has spent her professional life doing the right thing for other people. But as she starts to unbury a terrible crime, she realises she can no longer do that without putting everything she's ever wanted at risk.

But if she does nothing, the next victim could be her . . .

The Setting of The Hidden Girl

As if this week wasn’t exciting enough with the arrival of the paperback of The Hidden Girl in bookshops, I’m embarking on my first blog tour. Thank you to everyone’s who’s invited me as a guest, especially to today’s host @bookaddictshaun from Liverpool, who loves ‘crime fiction and chicklit’.

So, to kick off, why did I choose Suffolk as a location for The Hidden Girl?

As a psychological thriller writer, I try to choose a setting that heightens the sense of vulnerability and isolation my characters experience, whether that is a lonely city street with unfriendly neighbours, or a remote rural spot where mobiles don’t work.
So my inspiration for Suffolk was not primarily the appearance of the landscape, but the number of times I’ve become lost there in a maze of narrow lanes with no signposts, and high verges obscuring my view.

As a writer, I found that intriguing: that you could be just a few miles from a town, but so disorientated. (And In case you think I’m just rubbish at following directions, two Suffolk readers told me recently that they still get lost, and they’ve lived there their whole lives!)
On one summer’s day, visiting family, I took yet another wrong turn down a dead end and did a U-turn outside a Victorian house. Its gate was locked, the shutters closed. Behind it was an overgrown walled garden. It was wild and beautiful, and looked abandoned.

I’d been considering a story for a while about what you would do if your last chance to have a much-wanted child lay in someone else’s hands. How far you would betray your principles to make it happen?

I imagined a FOR SALE sign outside this house, and a couple, Hannah and Will, stumbling upon it by accident on the way home from a Suffolk funeral to their small London flat. I imagined Hannah, at the end of her tether waiting to adopt, persuading Will that a move to this seemingly idyllic family setting might improve their chances with the agency.

As the idea took root, I then saw Hannah six months later, trapped in this new house by snow, up a ladder, frantically trying to decorate before her adoption social workers arrive for a very important visit – and then spotting something terrible out the window. Knowing with a chilling certainty that if she reported it, the social workers will have no choice but to postpone...

I set off home that day with plans to return with pen and camera to note down details about the Victorian house I’d found. But I never did. Because despite driving round and round, I couldn’t find it again.

And that’s when I knew I’d found the perfect hidden-away setting for a very creepy psychological thriller.

Thanks Louise! Also be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

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