My first guest post today is from author Louise Worthington.
A secret is a lie in the making.
A charming divorcee and his young daughter. The promise of a new life – together as a family, in an apartment in a historic building. A fresh start – or the key to a nightmare?
Who will Willow believe – a young offender, or the love of her life?
Page-turning and emotional, Willow Weeps is the gripping new thriller from the author of Rachel’s Garden and The Entrepreneur.
I listened to an audiobook called Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing. I found many of the poems and the prose emotive and powerful, hard-hitting and without self-pity. It gave me the idea of creating a character who is a young offender and a gifted writer in Willow Weeps, my latest psychological suspense.
Lily is sixteen, misunderstood and robbed of freedom, her family and voice. She isn’t just a marginalised voice because her voice was actually stolen and sold by another in a position of power: her English teacher. Not only does he take advantage of her while she served time in a young offender’s institute, but he also publishes her stories under his name. To have a voice and to be heard is to be known and seen – or, in Lily’s case, to be misunderstood and robbed.
Lily Lessing is no innocent, but she is a victim, too, and by interweaving her stories into the narrative, the reader learns about the motivation behind her crime and traits of her personality.
Here is an extract of one of her short stories:
[Lottie} picks the book up again from the coffee table and reads to herself, comforted by the faint ticking of her watch.
To My Little Sister
I’m going to stick out my thumb and hitch-hike a ride to heaven for us. Then we’ll live in a country conjured just for us, where the salmon aren’t too scared to jump, and the sea is crowded with fish and the tide knows what to do, and all the fog and smut, black chimneys and smoke from the rooftops will be far, far away from me and you.
One day, we’ll climb to the top of a monkey tree and watch the morning mist rise and the seagulls flying away to the ocean. It will be a bright blue sky without a single cloud, and the breeze will be warm and gentle.
Billions of butterflies will wake up from their chrysalis to burst into flight. We’ll watch a miracle of colourful wings folding and unfolding, filling the sky. A rainbow of every colour imaginable, eddying and pulsing, and you will love the graceful soft beating and floating of wings. The whole air will be full of the sound of a drum and the beating of flawless wings will be a great painting in the sky – better because it is moving and living, not a still life but life folding in pleats, the sky pouring out its heart. Its beautiful heart. The butterfly’s wings will work their magic to repair broken dreams, so our hearts and eyes reopen, winging a gauze of jasmine cicada wish with blue legs and blue wings. Each one a messenger of hope, or a dream with wingbeats measuring time, distance and the great possibility of change.
The phone rings and clicks to voicemail. Lottie places her hands together, as if in prayer.
When all this is over, we will wear the petals of deep pink magnolia and the scent of a hummingbird after it has tasted the finest flower. I will be better than I was before, watered at the roots so my reach is further, wider, to keep you safe; and robins, sparrows and wrens will perch on my arms knowing they are safe and loved, too. When all this is over, I will be evergreen, because I won’t even shed leaves or soft petals when I am sad.
Little sister, I’ll throw a tapestry over the sun so you can catch up on lost sleep. I will stitch our names into the stars and inscribe our initials in the sand, on rocks, the barks of trees. I’ll make you a necklace from red berries and holly and a gown in the deep pink and red hues of a sunset. The hem will catch the clouds and drag them along in the opposite direction to where the wind wants to take them.
Born in Cheshire, England, Louise studied literature at the University of Essex. As a teenager she read until the small hours, enjoying the darker worlds conjured by Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier.
Louise is the author of the bestseller, Rachel’s Garden, another psychological thriller and Distorted Days which Kirkus Review described as ‘a formidable work.’ Her chilling blend of the lyrical and the dark is themost gripping in her thrillers and horror.