Thursday 24 March 2016

Q & A with Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies is a freelance journalist and novelist. Gone Astray (coming out in Hardback on 24th of March, Pan Macmillan) is the first novel in her new crime series. This is the story of a family whose circumstance drastically change, and due to this, their child is abducted. What sets this apart from other missing persons novels is DC Maggie our protagonist. DC Maggie is assigned to the family as their Family Liaison Officer and as a result gets unprecedented, unfiltered access to them while they are living through the most traumatic time in their lives. This is the first novel form the perspective of an FLO and brings a really fresh and interesting perspective to a missing persons case.

What made you decide to write a crime novel?
My favourite book as a child was Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven Win Through; it’s a terrific mystery about an intruder sneaking into the cave where the children hold their meetings and them setting up traps to catch whoever it is. Then in my first year at secondary school my English teacher set our class the task of writing a three-chapter story – so I wrote a mystery story of my own. I was thrilled to get top marks and I think that was what planted the seed of me writing crime fiction as an adult. I’ve never seen myself writing anything else.

What inspired you to give FLOs a voice?
I once worked for a brilliant magazine editor who drummed it into me that if you’re going to do something, make sure it hasn’t already been done. So it was always my plan to focus on a police role that hadn’t featured as the main character in a crime novel before and I got the idea for a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) after interviewing Kerry Needham. Her son Ben went missing on the Greek island of Kos in 1991 and during our conversation Kerry talked about how much she’d come to rely on her FLO and how she credited them for keeping her going when the sheer horror of having her little boy disappear became too much to bear. Once I started researching the role I realised there was far more to it than just ‘tea and sympathy’, which tends to be how family liaison is depicted. I was particularly interested in the theory that, because FLOs are first and foremost investigating detectives, they can solve crimes from the inside out if the police suspect the guilty party is within, or close to, the victim’s family. I’m very happy to be able to throw the spotlight on what is presently an underrated role.

Who is your favourite crime author?
Ruth Rendell. I love her Wexfords and her standalones equally. What makes her novels so peerless is that the humanity of her characters is always as important as the crimes they commit or witness. She can dissect a person’s psyche like no other.

What can we expect for the rest of the series
My main character, DC Maggie Neville, is committed to continuing her specialism as a Family Liaison Officer, even if it means forgoing promotion. Unfortunately constraints on police budgets mean FLOs are becoming overstretched nationally and that will be reflected in the series as we see Maggie having to juggle some cases simultaneously. She’s also facing uncertainty on a personal level – an oversight on her part will have major repercussions for her and the people closest to her for some time to come.

Gone Astray by Michelle Davies (£12.99, Pan Macmillan)
When a Lesley Kinnock buys a lottery ticket on a whim, it changes her life more than she could have imagined ...Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a GBP15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives - and friends - as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams. But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone. DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family. And she has a crisis threatening her own life - a secret from the past that could shatter everything she's worked so hard to build. As Lesley and Maggie desperately try to find Rosie, their fates hurtle together on a collision course that threatens to end in tragedy ...Money can't buy you happiness. The truth could hurt more than a lie. One moment really can change your life forever. 

You can find her on FaceBook and also follow her on Twitter @M_Davieswrites

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