I have been following a story about a solo yachtswoman who was lost at sea in rather strange circumstances. Mary Unwin bought an expensive yacht in Cornwall last October and despite being warned against doing so, set off at night in bad weather to sail round Land’s End to take her new boat home to Bideford in Devon. tragically she never arrived and some time later bits of wreckage were found, but Mary’s body was never recovered.
I have a certain fascination in lost or missing people, (and places) maybe because of the puzzle or mystery of what may have happened, and also why and how they disappeared. Usually the answer is mundane, (leaving an unhappy home/partner/relationship, starting a new life) sometimes sad (an accident or harm may have befallen them) sometimes intriguing ( the Reginald Perrin scenario)
When I think about it, many of my novels have these sort of mysteries; in Farholm, the true identity of Deke’s husband was hidden from her, the real man was in a sense lost.
In ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ Luka ‘loses’ Rosa in a train crash; the identity of her stalker is hidden and the story revolves round the search for the stalker.
‘Loving Judah’ has a missing boy at the centre of the story; Judah takes a gap year travelling to Kashmir where he disappears. Two other men are also lost , one shot down by a gangster in a quarry, his friend becoming emotionally and spiritually lost as a result. For a while I was going to call the novel ‘Losing Judah’… maybe I should have, would it be a better title? What do you think?
Paddy Cameron ran away from home thirty years before the start of ‘Night Vision’, and although he wrote to his family for a while he is now long gone and with no way of tracing him – should anyone even want to. Something less tangible is also lost in my novel; somehow the love and trust between Paddy’s brother Neil and his wife Beulah has vanished as a result of his obsessional and unfounded jealousy.
I am at present working on ‘Flipside’ set in 1990’s Oldham; the hero David fears he is losing his mind, that he is literally going mad.
To go back to the true story of Mary Unwin, the BBC posted this report yesterday:
Mary Unwin: Divers to search for missing woman’s yacht
Divers will search for a missing woman’s yacht six months after the craft and its owner disappeared, Devon and Cornwall Police have confirmed. Mary Unwin was last seen before she attempted to sail from Mousehole in Cornwall to Bideford in Devon.
Insp Jean Phillips said police had identified sites off Land’s End where they planned to send divers. On Monday, police said it was likely she went down with her boat when it hit rocks in October. Her body has never been found.
Insp Phillips said: “We have studied the tides and wreckage sightings and have identified a couple of areas off Land’s End to dive in. It is going to be quite challenging to find the boat as it is quite small. However, the onboard engine is heavy so it would have gone down where it sunk and is less affected by tides.” She added the water in that area “goes quite deep, quite quickly”.
Mother-of-four Mrs Unwin was on a 130-mile (210km) journey after setting off at about 18:30 BST on Saturday 13 October. Wreckage of the 32ft (9.7m) vessel was discovered near Sennen Cove, west Cornwall, three days after the 65-year-old was last seen. She was trying to sail around Land’s End on her own at night – despite warnings not to – after buying the £32,000 yacht in Falmouth.
Police said they were unsure when the search for the craft would begin.