As coincidences go, it was a big one, and it nearly meant that one of my books wasn’t finished, never mind published.
Going back a couple of years, I was watching a TV programme called The Heir Hunters, which was about a team of people who searched for relatives of those who died inestate. The relatives then inherited whatever was left, and the heir hunters were given a certain percentage. Interestingly, the size of the estate was unknown during the search, and one lovely side effect was that people were often reconnected with long-lost relatives, or relatives they’d never even known about.
And that was where the idea for Stolen Sister came from. I started to write about Vicky, who discovered she’d once had a baby sister… I set the book in Glasgow, and as I was in the UK visiting family around that time, I took a friend for a scout around the city centre to see the streets Vicky would be walking up and down every day.
For reasons to do with the plot, Vicky needed to live close to the centre, and we soon found the ideal place. The river Clyde flows through Glasgow, and a stone’s throw from all the action there’s a footbridge over to the opposite bank, where twin buildings sit on either side of the bridge. I put Vicky’s flat into the building on the left. From there, she could look out across the river and see the glass roof of the St Enoch Centre glinting in the sun. Perfect!
Back I came to Switzerland, and had almost finished the book when the coincidence reared up and floored me. My father had been living with cancer for many years then, but things took a sudden and dramatic downturn and he needed terminal care asap. My brother called to tell me a place had been found for him in the Prince and Princess of Wales hospice in Glasgow, and he was taking Dad there immediately.
‘Where is it?’ I asked.
‘Carlton Place, somewhere in the city centre,’ he replied. ‘I’m putting it into the satnav.’
I rang off, booked flights and went on Google maps to find out where the hospice was.
You see the bridge on the photo above, and the row of houses along the river bank? That’s Carlton Place, with “Vicky’s flat” on the left – and the hospice in the building on the right. I’d walked past it that day and never realised.
For the next three weeks, I spent my time sitting at Dad’s bedside by one of the windows on that photo, looking out at the city centre on the opposite bank, with the Clyde flowing past in between. The exact same view my Vicky would have from her flat…
It was months before I went back to my manuscript. If it hadn’t been so nearly finished, I think I’d have abandoned it. But I didn’t, and it was published, spending a few years with digital publisher Bloodhound Books before rights returned to me last week.
The kindle and audio versions are available now, and we hope to have a new paperback out this summer. Working to get the text ready to republish took me right back to the time I spent at Carlton Place with Dad. Since then, the Glasgow hospice has moved into a lovely new building in a park, and I’d like to finish off by thanking them once again for the amazing care they gave not only to Dad, but to all our family. ❤