It is my honour to welcome SJI Holliday to my blog today! Susi has written a trilogy set in Banktoun, each focuses on a different murder although there are also several threads running across the whole series as well.
Black Wood and Willow Walk are available to buy now and The Damselfly publishes on 2nd February 2017 by Black and White Publishing.
Today Susi is treating us to a guest post about her writing and the setting for her fictional Banktoun series. Thanks so much Susi!
When the Setting Takes on a Life of its Own
When I started writing my first book, Black Wood, I already ideas for another two books to be set in the same small town: Banktoun. Three would be just right, I thought. You can’t kill off too many people in a small town unless you’re writing a series of Midsomer Murders!
I call Banktoun a fictional town, because I’ve taken a few liberties with the street names, cut off a chunk on the other side of the river to make it smaller and changed a few other things about, but it’s not really 100% fictional. It’s based on the small town where I grew up – about 15 miles south east of Edinburgh. I lived there until I left to go to university, and I worked in my dad’s shop from a young age, followed by our family pub and B&B – so I got to know a lot of interesting characters! In a town like this, there are always deep-rooted family secrets. People tend to know each other’s business, and there’s not much you can do to escape that – especially if you work in one of the town’s busiest pubs! I loved growing up there. I loved the feeling of community, the quirkiness of some of the people who lived there, the gossip… But it was suffocating too, and I left to seek out the bright lights of a big city (but I go back several times a year, and I still love it!).
By setting my first three books in this version of my own town, I was able to explore the secrets and lies of the community as I imagined them – taking snippets of real life events and mashing them up in my imagination. In Black Wood, a face from the past comes back to haunt an already damaged girl; in Willow Walk, the fair comes to town, and with it brings an undercurrent of unease, a stalker, and the horrors of herbal highs; and in The Damselfly, a young girl is murdered, whipping the town into a frenzy and leaving it bruised and damaged once more. I always thought that Banktoun had a shelf-life. A trilogy meant there would be enough time to develop the main character, Davie Gray (who was never even meant to exist, when I started writing the first book!) – but now I’m not so sure. It’s not just Davie. It’s the whole town, and the people who live there, and all the offshoots of them and their lives. So maybe three books aren’t enough, after all.
I might just have to write about Banktoun again.
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Thanks so much Susi! It's so interesting to hear about the inspiration behind Banktoun! I for one (but I am certainly not alone) am hoping that Banktoun does not just stop at a trilogy!
To read my reviews of Susi's books please click on the links below:
Susi will be appearing at Criminally Good Books on the 18th Jan 2017 (which is part of Bibliomaniac's Book Club) so please stay tuned to this blog to read more from the criminally good authors. To find out more about the Bibliomaniac's Book Club please click here:
S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up in Haddington, East Lothian. She spent many years working in her family’s newsagent and pub before escaping to St Andrews, Dundee and Edinburgh to study microbiology and statistics. She has worked as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry for over sixteen years, but it was on a six-month round-the-world-trip that she took with her husband in 2006 that she rediscovered her passion for writing. After abandoning her first attempt at a paranormal thriller, she wrote hundreds of crime and horror short stories before finally sitting down to write the book she was always meant to write. Based on a true-life creepy event, Black Wood is the first of a loosely-linked series set in the fictional town of Banktoun. She lives in London, except when the magnetic pull of Scotland attracts her back, and she can usually be found in cafes, pubs, hanging around at book festivals and on Facebook and Twitter (@SJIHolliday). For more information please visit her website: http://www.sjiholliday.com
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