I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Linda Huber to the blog today to talk about her new release, Chosen Child. I was lucky enough to get an early read of this novel and found it completely unputdownable. If you like a page turning psychological thriller, then look no further. This post was scheduled to run as part of her blog tour when the novel was released last month, but we had to delay due to my recent website problems. I’d like to thank Linda for her patience and understanding. I’m sure you’ll all agree that the piece is certainly worth waiting for.
‘Where do your characters come from?’ is something I’m often asked. Or: ‘Is Alicia/Maggie/Nina you?’
Book characters are every bit as important as the plot – they are the ones who tell the story, showing us their version of the events unfolding. And no, none of my characters are me. I would never have driven from Bedford to Yorkshire two weekends running like Alicia did (I hate driving), and I certainly wouldn’t have stayed alone in a spooky old house like Nina did.
It’s the plot of a story that comes first when I’m writing. The idea for Chosen Child hit me when I was talking to someone at a wedding. She worked in child welfare and I don’t know how we got onto the subject of adoption, but we did – and an entire plot burst into my head. This would happen, then this, and at the end…
Next, I had to find my paper people. Knowing what would happen in the story, I needed my characters’ personalities to be in sync with their actions throughout the book. It takes a lot of thinking to create a character, especially those who are the bad guys. They still need something that tugs at the reader’s heart. No one is all bad.
One tip I picked up, and it’s a fabulous one, is: write down ten things about each character that the reader never finds out. Doing this makes the person real in your own eyes, which automatically makes them more real in the book. (So Nina hates spiders, Alicia used to do jazz-ballet, and Maggie makes a lot of her own clothes.)
Sometimes too, a moment in my life creates a character. In Chosen Child, one person was clear from the start – Soraya, the child. Here’s why:
A couple of years ago, I was travelling home by train after visiting my older son in his student flat in the centre of Switzerland. It was summer – outdoor pool weather, and part of my journey was on one of those trains that stop at every second lamp post. At one of them, a little family boarded and sat across the aisle; a mother and two girls aged about six and eight. The older child had been taken ill and lay shivering across one seat, eyes closed. The mother was very concerned about her, covering her with a towel, consoling her they’d soon be home, offering her juice.
But it was the younger girl who attracted my attention. She sat pressed into the corner, long, damp hair straggling over her t-shirt, apprehension and pity on her face as she watched her mother and sister. A nice child. Once she asked for juice too and was given a carton, but understandably the mother only had eyes for the other girl. The little sister drank her OJ, blinking hard, and I knew it wasn’t juice she’d wanted. Two stops later they left the train, the mother carrying the older child and the younger one toting a beach bag half as big as herself.
The whole scene stuck in my memory, and this little girl was who I had in mind when I wrote Chosen Child. A chance encounter in a train, and she landed in a book. I wonder how similar she is to my Soraya – but I’ll never know!
About The Author
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.
Ideas for her books come from Linda’s daily life. The Paradise Trees (2013) was inspired by her father-in-law’s struggle with dementia, and she started writing The Cold Cold Sea (2014) shortly after learning that a child in her extended family drowned in the 1940s, aged eleven. The Attic Room (2015) begins in one of her most-loved places, the Isle of Arran on the west coast of Scotland.
Chosen Child, her fourth psychological thriller, was inspired by a chance conversation at a wedding. The ebook is available from February 15th; the paperback at the end of the month.