Authors reveal the images that inspired 100,000 words



About the author...

Rachel Abbott's debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight and Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child) and Kill Me Again. In February 2017 Rachel released her seventh novel, The Sixth Window.
Her novels have been translated into over 20 languages.
In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.
Rachel splits her time between Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France - and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction. For more information, see Rachel's website, or follow her on Twitter.

Every writer seeks inspiration for their stories from a whole range of sources. For some it could be news reports, magazine articles or local tales. They may discover a character they believe would be the perfect hero or villain in a novel, or be inspired to develop a devious plot. All of these work for me too – I believe that characters can drive a plot if they are strong enough.

But character and plot without a real sense of place don’t feel like quite enough to me. I want to sense the atmosphere of the surroundings and I try to bring this to life in my stories.

Many years ago, I attended a film shoot at a disused railway station in Manchester known as Mayfield station. The memory of this place haunted me and I knew that at some point it would have to feature in one of my stories. And it did – in Kill Me Again.

I could picture myself there, and I could imagine the sounds, smells and atmosphere.

Manchester, of course, offers a rich source of locations for a book and I have used the deserted underground tunnels and even the stretch of wasteland close the heart of Manchester that is known as Pomona Island.

But it’s not only derelict places that give me ideas. I wanted to base my third book Sleep Tight in both Manchester and Alderney – the beautiful island that I call home. What could possibly happen to a person here?

This wonderful photograph by Neil Howard shows an area of cliffs in Alderney which can either be a stunning picture, or can possibly fire the imagination for something far darker. And that’s what it did for me. Suddenly, by looking at this picture, I could hear the waves pounding on the rocks below where the man stood. I could see the odd gannet swooping past and could feel the cold air on my face.

For  my most recent book, The Sixth Window, I had a number of important locations, but none more so than a room that few people knew existed.

I wanted this room to seem mysterious to the first person who finds it – with trompe l’oeil paintings on every wall and on the ceiling. Above would be dark, forbidding clouds, and the walls would be a mixture to suit every mood – from Roman scenes, like the one below, to pictures of scenes through windows of mountains and the sea.

It had to be a room that didn’t seem to make sense, until its purpose was discovered.

So images, locations, even the layout of a dining room, are all important to me and allow me – I hope – to paint the vision of what I’m seeing to my readers.

Thank you, Rachel Abbott, for the insight into your writing world!