Hilary Norman has set many of her books in the USA and here she explains why.
WHIRLWIND has been simmering at the back of my mind for a long time, but I’m happy to say that as with all my novels, none of it was based on or even inspired by real-life events. I am a fiction writer, my characters and plots plucked out of the ether. The daily news, of course, with its all-too-frequent reports of atrocities and killings, must necessarily play its part, but like all my previous psychopaths and serial killers, Reaper came entirely out of my imagination. What that may say about me? … perhaps best not to look too deeply into a crime writer’s psyche! Reaper fascinates and horrifies me; such a terribly damaged, twisted, highly intelligent, monstrous user of vulnerable people.
As for Rhode Island, location of the fictitious village of Shiloh, I did live in the state for some time back in the early eighties, staying with an artist friend in Pawtucket near Providence. I had spent years obtaining a green card and worked in a dress store for the legal minimum wage, wrote in the evenings and travelled around in my spare time. And I made another dear friend, a local historian and broadcaster whose New England expertise has been of tremendous value to me in the writing of WHIRLWIND – and also in a previous book, THE KEY TO SUSANNA, located in and around Cape Cod.
All through the mid-seventies and early eighties, I was back and forth to New York City, lived there for months at a time as often as I could. I worked for a while in Greenwich Village, rented a room in Chelsea. I had a fantastic time, fell in love with (and in) Manhattan at a time when Brits were hugely popular there. My US days gave me the greatest buzz and inspiration at a time when I was lacking that over here; and then my writing took off, my focus changed, and suddenly I didn’t seem to need that escape any more. I had what I needed back in London, continued to travel regularly for research, and – the proverbial icing on the cake – I got married.
When I lived in New York, I loved escaping to New England and upstate New York, always wondering why I was insane enough to stay in the crazy (wonderful) city when I could have such beauty and peace instead. I usually returned to Manhattan with reluctance, got off the train thoroughly disliking the place – and then, within hours, the magic had wrapped itself around me again.
Over my twenty-five titles, I’ve written several novels located in the UK and around Europe, but the majority of my books have been rooted in the US. I’ve written about characters and their lives in Boston and rural New England, upstate New York, Manhattan itself, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, not forgetting Miami Beach, the location for the Sam Becket series. My love for the United States continues. It’s been too long since I last visited, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back.
“Excellent. A gripping, frighteningly real and very disturbing novel.”
David Suchet on Whirlwind
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