Guest Post: The Inspiration Behind The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

Monday 26 January 2015
Everyone tells her she's a survivor. No-one knows she's dead inside.

She's dead but she's the only one who knows what really happened;

What your friends have said.

What the police missed.

Who attacked you.

So if you want the truth who else are you going to turn to?

Very excited to be part of Colette McBeth's blog tour for The Life I Left Behind, a book I recently reviewed and very much enjoyed! Colette is sharing with us the inspiration behind the book, which I hope you enjoy and hope it inspires you to pick the book up if you haven't already. You can read my review here.

The inspiration for The Life I Left Behind came during a shift in the BBC newsroom. I was in London, the news was elsewhere, Iraq, Europe, I can’t be sure. But one story stuck with me that day. The remains of a young woman had been found in a farmer’s field. No one knew who she was, not when she was uncovered, not for weeks afterwards. All the police could say was that she had been dead for some years.

And so for the first few weeks of the investigation she was referred to as a body and a victim. But everyone has a history and I became fascinated by hers. In a parallel world I imagined her being granted the dignity of telling her own story in her own words. And it was there, in the shadowy gap between fact and fiction that Eve Elliot started talking to me. She was wilful, gutsy and understandably angry at times. She had a wicked sense of humour. And like the woman in the field, she had also been murdered.

Another character appeared, Melody, a woman who had been attacked by the man who went on to kill Eve. I was determined Eve would connect with her, help her, not in a whimsical or supernatural way, but through the clues she left behind. Although Eve was dead she would be the only person who could show Melody how to live again.

So for me The Life I Left Behind is a psychological thriller but it’s also the story of a redemptive and unconventional friendship. I laughed and cried with Eve while she encouraged me not to take life for granted.

In real life the woman’s body was eventually identified and the true story behind her disappearance was revealed. She had been loved, missed, expected home one day. They are not alike, my story and hers. The similarity ends at the discovery of the body, but I thought of her often as I wrote Eve’s story, and of all the victims who no longer have a voice.

The Life I Left Behind is out now, published by Headline

Thanks to Colette for the guest post.

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