Getting into characters' heads - a fascinating guest blog by Helen Christmas

Writing to me is a labour of love. I spent six years developing a thriller series, (Same Face Different Place), but in 2015 had an idea for a new book; a standalone psychological suspense novel set in West Sussex.

The story took 2 years to come together, the first hurdle getting to know my new characters, the next formatting it into the style of a psychological thriller and researching police procedures. The underlying premise of the book however, is how much do we really remember about our childhood, especially the friends we lost contact with?

Lethal Ties is about friendship.

Two former children’s home residents cross paths, never knowing what happened to their friend, Sam, who vanished 20 years ago. 

The Past: 1995

Central protagonist, Maisie, was 12 when placed in a children’s home, until fortuitously she was fostered by a kind couple in Kent. But as a professional woman in her 3os, her life is far from perfect. Maisie has mental health issues. Something happened in the home, Orchard Grange, that she can’t quite recall. It involved her friends, Joe and Sam, two boys who made life more bearable, especially Joe. He made her feel safe. Whereas Sam was the more vulnerable-looking of the two, a boy the other kids picked on. 

The Present: 2015

Maisie has flashbacks. A recurring nightmare from her teens returns to haunt her, leaving a cold creeping sensation that stays with her. The anxiety associated with these dreams is wearing her down and she is already having psychotherapy. But one night, she experiences a hallucination; sees a boy along a dark wooded road who looks like Sam. There is obviously some trauma rooted in her subconscious, something she explores in therapy, unleashing a reel of lucid scenes.

Thinking about the story, I asked myself what would it feel like, bumping into someone you hadn’t seen for two decades?

In 1978 I spent a year in America (aged 13) and made lots of friends. Looking back, some stand out clearly, while others seem somewhat fuzzy around the edges. A few years ago, I was thinking about that year and after making enquiries, someone reached out to me. Joining Facebook, I was immediately invited to a group, 'Growing up in Lockhaven,’ where many familiar names and faces began to emerge. Yes, they were different to how I remembered them as teenagers - some had thrived into assertive successful adults whilst others appeared more spiritual.

Going back to my own book, when Maisie finds Joe homeless on Bognor seafront, her first reaction is panic. She is professional but he has obviously fallen on hard times, so her first priory is to help Joe turn his life around before they can face the past. But what really happened to Sam? A hazy, half-remembered figure in their minds, who they desperately want to trace.


Lethal Ties is a suspenseful thriller that tackles childhood traumas, with a special emphasis on mental health and seeking help.


Author Bio: I am creative, ambitious, and enjoy working from home with my husband, running a web design business. We have a rescue cat, called Tiggy and are hoping to adopt a dog. I love where we live and with a passion for walking and photography, found the inspiration to base my latest novel in West Sussex. I am active on social media, write a blog and enjoy networking with other authors. LETHAL TIES is my first psychological thriller, a standalone novel and there is even a little romance in the story.


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