Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…
Welcome to one of the October 26th stops on the blog tour for The Hidden by Alison Knight with Rachel’s Random Resources (schedule linked.) Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, and more author guest posts!
Author Guest Post
Our guest today is Alison Knight, author of The Hidden, an intriguing romantic suspense set in Montana in 1973, featuring a wounded Vietnam veteran, an Englishwoman with secrets and a big black dog called Bear. We asked her to tell us about her writing process in terms of keeping the vastly different cultural settings distinct without letting it become a distraction.
Hello, and thank you for inviting me onto your blog to talk about The Hidden. This is actually the third in a series of standalone but linked stories published by Darkstroke Books that have taken me on an interesting cultural journey. The first book, Mine, was based on real events in my own working-class family in London in the late 1960s and I actually feature as a character in that book. I was very comfortable, writing about my working-class upbringing and life in London at that time.
Two of the main characters in Mine worked in a solicitor’s firm and I created a scene about a wealthy old lady changing her will. That inspired me to write my next book, The Legacy. In that story, I moved into the world of upper class society in London in the 1960s and its connections with the London criminals who ran the casinos in the city. There are many stories about members of London’s elite falling foul of dangerous gangsters like the Kray twins through careless gambling. At the end of The Legacy, one man is dead and his sister is in jail.
I really enjoyed developing the character of the sister, Fliss. She was cold, spoilt and arrogant. I started to wonder what might have happened to her after the end of the story. That’s when I decided to write The Hidden. Fliss had made such a mess of her life, it was hard to see how she could be redeemed – and that is what The Hidden is about.
There is another cultural shift in The Hidden in that I took this upper-class English woman (who has changed her name to Faye) to a simple cabin on a ranch in Montana. I have to confess now that I have not yet visited Montana, although for some time in my teens I had a pen pal there who loved his home state and told me a lot about life there. I also spent a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s. So I have used those experiences, as well as research into the landscape of the area, to build a picture of life in the cabin.
I’ve always found it interesting that the English and the American people have a common language yet are very different. One of the ways I got around this in The Hidden was to be very aware of those cultural differences when writing the different points of view.
When writing in the English character’s point of view, I used British English spellings. But when the scene was in an American character’s point of view, I switched to US English spellings – something that my editor agreed with, thank goodness.
Certain words needed to be changed to fit the different cultural perspectives (as in rubber vs eraser, curtains vs drapes and so on), depending upon whose point of view we are viewing a scene from. Sometimes it was simply a case of highlighting their differences in dialogue – for example, the Englishwoman explains how embarrassing it was when she asked if she could borrow a rubber from an American colleague, only to discover that he thought she was asking for a condom rather than an eraser. This is actually something that happened to me when I was living in the US as a naïve teenager! Using dialogue to explain things can, I hope, make it easier for readers in both the US and the UK to enjoy the story without being distracted by the cultural differences.
I also wanted to mention CB radios in this story. They were very popular in the 1970s. In fact, I had an English aunt who lived in Chicago at the time and used the CB ‘handle’ of Lavender Lady – which I gave to Faye in The Hidden, as a tribute to my dear aunt, who died while I was writing this story. As we didn’t have mobile phones in the 1970s, CB radios were important for communication, especially in isolated communities like this one.
They say that we’re divided by a common language, but I hope that I’ve been able to show that, despite the cultural differences between my two main characters, they are able to find common ground upon which to build a strong relationship and overcome their difficulties.
About the Book
by Alison Knight
Published 23 September 2021
Genre: Mystery/Suspense Romance
Author Content Warning: PTSD, nightmares, some violence and threat of violence.
Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…
Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.
Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.
The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.
When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?
About the Author
Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.
The Hidden, available from September 2021,is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?
Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.
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