I first conceived of The Flower Girls over two years ago when I was playing around with ideas for my third book. I had written two books in the DI Erica Martin series set in Durham but the plan was to write a stand-alone novel now – more thriller than police procedural.
I had an idea about a novel which described a power play between two women. Originally, I conceived of the plot as centring on an office relationship and a crime that was witnessed but didn’t appear to have actually taken place.
Whilst thinking it through though, I remembered the awful time back in 1993 when James Bulger was murdered by Robert Thomson and Jon Venables, both aged ten at the time. As a former lawyer, I knew that the age of criminal responsibility is ten years of age. What, I wondered, would have happened if one of the boys who committed that crime had been younger than ten? And what if they had in fact been related to each other and not just friends from school?
In my imaginings, such a scenario would tear a family apart. And it would also raise fascinating questions about whether evil is innate; or learnt; or even if it exists at all.
Thus, in The Flower Girls, Laurel and Rosie are sisters who are involved in the abduction and murder of two-year-old Kirstie Swann. Whilst Laurel, aged ten, is convicted of the murder and sentenced to detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, Rosie, aged six, is given a new identity and allowed to keep her freedom. Nineteen years later, a little girl goes missing in a Devon hotel at New Year’s Eve, and Rosie’s identity is about to be revealed for all of the wrong reasons….
I love reading books which test the characters within it with difficult dilemmas. I absolutely loved writing The Flower Girls and grappling with notions of whether a person can ever be rehabilitated and why the past is so often impossible to bury in future relationships. I hope you enjoy reading it too. It is a dark subject, but one – I hope – which does justice to the psychology of the characters I describe.
I’d love to hear your views so get in touch!