I never expected that writing Journey to Death would take me half way around the world to a tropical island. Would you think I was crazy if I told you I fell in love with the Indian Ocean? Time seems to stand still as moonlight shimmers on the water, while waves break gently on the sand as they have been doing for millions of years…

The Internet makes it possible to create a convincing sense of place without visiting a location, but I felt it was important to visit the Seychelles – not just because I fancied a holiday! However many images were displayed online, I was still not sure of the colour of the sand. Other senses can be more elusive. How do you describe the sounds of the cloud forest, or the smells of a market, by researching on the internet?

The idea for a story set in the Seychelles came from a firsthand account of a political coup that took place in the 1970s. Although the coup passed off relatively peacefully, life on the island became precarious for ex-patriots who had been living under the auspices of the old regime. A young Englishman is forced to leave the island, unaware that a terrible fate awaits him should he ever return. Thirty years later he brings his wife and daughter to the island for a holiday…

Journey to Death takes place in the Seychelles, which meant I had to go there. As well as a fabulous visit, it was a serious research trip. I felt vindicated when, as well as suggesting that ‘readers will be in the grip of the suspenseful story’, Booklist in America wrote: ‘Russell evokes the exotic locale beautifully… readers will feel the island heat and smell the flowers.’ I hope other readers agree!

Journey to Death is published by Thomas & Mercer

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