Guest Post: “On Research” by Fran Dorricott, author of AFTER THE ECLIPSE

DorricottF-AuthorPicResearch is one of the most important parts of writing a crime novel, and while I don’t research as heavily as some authors I did have several areas I wanted to focus on to make After the Eclipse as authentic a story as I could. I started with the setting – for me, a vivid setting is vitalto getting sucked into a book. I knew from the start I wanted to create a similar world to the one in which I grew up. My parents were divorced, and for a while my dad lived in a caravan. He travelled all over Derbyshire, and when I would stay with him at the weekends my inner explorer came to life. I loved the sweet-smelling open fields, the friendly locals in the small towns and villages, and the glimpses into a hundred other lives.

Some of my favourite places to stay with my dad were ones that felt like tourist traps. The kinds of places with an abundance of cafes and pubs, and – the thing I looked forward to most – shops that sold crystals, Tarot cards, incense and beautiful jewellery made from precious stones. I set out to imitate the parts I loved best in my creation of Bishop’s Green, a landlocked town with a feeling of being at the seaside. As a child I loved to visit Matlock Bath and the Blue John mines, and in Bishop’s Green I created Earl’s cafe and Ady’s corner shop; where Birchover in Derbyshire has the Druid stones carved high up on the hill, I drew on my love of magic and superstition to create the Triplet Stones. And, the bonus was it allowed me to visit all of my favourite places over again in the name of research!

It was also important to me to portray Cassie’s gran as accurately as possible. Gran has dementia, something that affects 850,000 people in the UK alone, and I knew going in that I wanted to treat Gran’s illness sensitively. I spent hours online, reading the resources on the Alzheimer’s Society website and, later, talking to friends and acquaintances who could offer their own personal experiences. Through my research I learned about sundowning, and how those with later-stage dementia may become more confused as the day goes on. Cassie herself is struggling to work out how best to help her Gran, and it is a journey with many speed bumps (often exacerbated by Cassie’s own selfishness). One thing I learned during my research was how varied people’s experiences were, and how difficult it can be emotionally, which is something I’ve tried to portray in After the Eclipse.

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And of course, no crime novel is complete without a little research into the operation of the police! I have taken a few liberties with this, but all mistakes are absolutely my own. During the writing of After the Eclipse I had the fortune to be studying on an MA alongside a lovely London detective, who answered all of my questions about rank and procedure so that I could ignore it all! I’m very grateful to Vicki for all her patience and insight, and here’s to hoping that Marion Adams is a little more vivid because of it.

Research is great! Although I’ve decided that I’m going to set my next book somewhere hot and sunny. Because… research.

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After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott is due to be published by Titan Books in North America and in the UK, on March 5th, 2019. Here’s the synopsis:

AUGUST 1999

A little girl is abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse. Her older sister was supposed to be watching her. She is never seen again.

MARCH 2015

In desperate need of a fresh start, journalist Cassie Warren moves back to the small town of Bishop’s Green to live with her ailing grandmother. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister – that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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