My inspiration for writing The Hit did not come from a trip to an undiscovered corner of Italy, a bizarre story in the news or a chance meeting with a stranger. The idea presented itself when I was lying on a stretcher in A&E, 5 months pregnant, waiting to be wheeled in for an emergency ultrasound following a car crash. The collision was so bad that the left hand side of our Audi had buckled in like a crushed beer can. My husband had been at the wheel and had managed to throw himself out the way just in time although his weight sent my head slamming into the window. Our 2 year old son had been sitting in the back – on the opposite side from the impact. I’ve never been religious but this particular roll of the dice gave me pause for thought.
As I was waiting to go in for my scan, anxiety mounting, I spotted the idiot who had ploughed into us. He was standing in a corner with his much younger girlfriend who was sobbing. Realising I was watching, she quickly approached and started to apologize profusely. She suggested that she could mind my son while I was checked over (my husband was still at the scene). But it was all I could do to look her in the eye: my instincts were imploring me to get as far away from her as possible: I didn’t want her anywhere near my boy and insisted he stayed with me up on the stretcher.
I was deeply, viscerally, suspicious of this woman and her partner because in the few seconds before the accident I remember seeing their car heading straight for us; they were in our lane and it most definitely felt deliberate. The first two books in my Leone Scamarcio series may have put some powerful peoples’ backs up and I wondered if this could be connected.
Thankfully, just a few hours later, the police brought my runaway imagination back under control: apparently the other driver had been playing guitar with our local priest and they’d been drinking all afternoon (if you know our priest this isn’t beyond the realms of possibility…) The drunk driver had simply taken too long to correct after the bend.
But the seed for The Hit had already been sewn. The baby was fine, I was fine, my son was fine, yet I couldn’t shake off that sense of disquiet; that feeling of foreboding I experienced in A&E. Often things aren’t quite as they seem and this is what I wanted my character, TV Executive, Micky Proietti to experience. I wanted him to take the journey I’d feared I was about to embark on; to live the nightmare for real.
Having worked in factual TV for 15 years I met a lot of commissioners who share traits with Micky but none of them were ever quite so obnoxious. Proietti is really just a concentration of the worst of the industry; an amalgam of ego, insensitivity, ambition and self obsession. But beneath all this there’s a human being; a husband and a father who would do anything for his son. And it was this aspect of his character I was most interested in: I wanted to see him forced to re examine his values and assumptions; pushed to question his place in this life and the steps he’d taken to get there. And, most importantly, I wanted flying squad Detective Leone Scamarcio along for the ride. Only an investigator as incisive as Scamarcio could cut through the veneer of Proietti’s world to expose the tangled truths beyond.
The Hit is published by Scribe