Think of the Children is what many want to call my first "proper" book, seeing as it is coming out through a publisher first, rather than being self-published and then crossing over. Although the timescale means it is out 16 months since I last had a full book out, the origins of the story lie in the same place as pretty much everything else that is on my ideas pad – from my life.

A few years ago I was driving home from work late on a Saturday at the start of the summer. It would have been a perfect evening to get home, sit in the garden, enjoy the dipping sun and have a beer to finish the day off. That never quite happened.

The car three in front of me sped across a roundabout, tried to take a corner too quickly, and promptly spun off the road, sliding down a ditch.

The two vehicles between us carried on as if nothing had happened, which had me questioning whether I was seeing things. I pulled over anyway and there was the car: perfectly parallel to the road, at the bottom of the bank in between two trees having hit none of them. No-one was hurt physically but I waited with the woman who was driving and called the police.

The feeling of stopping and not knowing what I was about to see over the ridge is something I’ll never forget.

That’s where the beginning of Think of the Children comes from.

I had a vivid idea of my character, Jessica, sitting at a set of traffic lights on a wet Manchester morning (there are lots of those), when a car skids across a junction and crashes in front of her.

The driver isn’t wearing a seatbelt and hits the windscreen – but the boot is open a fraction, revealing its own secrets.

…and away the story goes.

What didn’t make the book was the mobile phone conversation that the driver had with her husband. I remember it exactly:

Her: "Hi, it’s me. I’ve had an accident in the car."

<Short pause while he replied>

Her: "No, the car’s fine…"

It’s always nice to know where people’s priorities lie…

Think of the Children is published by Pan in print and ebook on 28 February 2013

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