I knew when I started writing my latest Radwinter book that one of the story lines would be very complicated. There’s the haunted hotel plot, the girl with amnesia found washed up on a beach, the ongoing background story of the different characters, the Radwinters and their families, and there is the complicated mystery; it goes back to 1931 and it is a murder mystery.

The main character, Thomas, has been commissioned to try and find out whether the story an elderly man’s mother told him is true; the old chap’s mother, who was at school in 1931, believed that some of her school friends were murdered. Thomas is very doubtful whether he can untangle the truth in all this but he undertakes the challenge and begins his research using the old man’s papers, and archive material such as news papers, coroners’ reports etc.

Here is an article Thomas found in the local newspaper:

CHILD KILLED BY FALLING WINDOW.

Friday. – Florence Baxter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Benjamin Baxter, a school girl at the Beauchamp Academy, met her death in an extraordinary accident on Wednesday afternoon. It is surmised that for some reason, after studying in the academy grounds, she attempted to climb in through the refectory window; she had placed her bag containing her school books within the room and it is thought that as she did so she knocked out a stick which had been holding up the window. The window down fell across her neck, and when found by a fellow pupil, she was dead. Miss Baxter was fourteen years old. An inquest will be announced, but no doubt the verdict returned will be of accidental death.

There wasn’t a whole school of hundreds of girls, but a summer school of just thirteen, ranging in age from eleven to sixteen. The inspiration for this story came from something I came across:

img046These are the girls at the school… I’ve ‘borrowed’ their faces…

Because there are several story lines, they interweave with each other, and this is where I’ve got myself a little muddled… as Thomas proceeds with his investigation he gradually finds out more and more about each girl.  In my story they were all adopted through a dubious agency by well-meaning families so there is no record of where they were born; however Thomas is able through his genealogical investigation to find a little more about them, marriages, children, and when they died… and he discovers the shocking truth that there was more than one girl whose death seemed ‘suspicious’…

I have these ideas, I know where I’m going, but I have realised that I am getting very muddled about the order in which Thomas discovers things… When I write, unlike some other writers, I keep everything in my head – I do sometimes make timelines or family trees, but on the whole it is all filed away somewhere in my brain. I have to confess, with this story I am going to have to have notes, timelines and some sort of on-paper sequencing chart. A friend suggested a roll of wall-paper… that is actually a very good idea!

What has made it more complicated – the writing not the story, is that I had an extra strand of narrative which I’ve now removed and may use later, and also a different plot line, a haunted hotel has had to be rewritten and changed… more checking and double checking to make sure continuity is preserved.

In order to make sure everything is clear and contiguous, I have copied every scene relating to his investigation and discoveries and created a separate document, just to check… I have such eagle-eyed readers that any error will be picked up straight away! Luckily I also have very kind readers who point these mistakes out in a helpful and friendly way so they can be corrected…

OK, back to 1931 and the earthquake… yes there was an earthquake here in 1931… and it is another character in the story!

If you haven’t read my Radwinter novels they are e-books and here is a link to them and my other stories:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

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