Bognor-Regis based thriller to be launched at the Festival of Chichester

Author Helen Christmas promises a thought-provoking psychological thriller set in Bognor Regis.

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 7:05 am
Helen Christmas
Helen Christmas

She will be launching it at this year’s Festival of Chichester at the Chichester Cinema at New Park on July 9 at 6.15pm.

Lethal Ties is self-published, available on Amazon said: “The idea came to me a few years ago when I read stories in the news about people in power abusing vulnerable children.

“It got me thinking what would happen if two former children’s home residents crossed paths after 20 years? One, a professional woman Maisie, suffers nightmares and panic attacks. When she discovers her old friend, Joe, homeless on Bognor seafront, she yearns to help him turn his life around.

“Both share traumatic memories of the home where they met, the manager, Mr Mortimer, and Sam, a fragile boy they befriended who disappeared one night but they never knew what happened to him. The idea grew into a suspenseful mystery, in which the two characters endeavour to find out. Child abuse concerns me greatly because of the long-term psychological effects on victims. I didn’t want it to be graphic, more a slow untangling of secrets portrayed through the minds of the characters.

“On the nights the children were abused they were drugged so they are unsure what happened. They have to follow clues as well as flashbacks they have to unravel the truth and trace their missing friend.

“I also wanted to set my novel in West Sussex, specifically Bognor where I visualised scenes on the beach, the Waverley pub, Mamma Mia (Italian restaurant) and Sen Tapas. Chichester too features, my favourite beauty spots, Goodwood, Eartham Woods, West Dean Gardens and East Lavant where the story reaches its chilling finale.

“I had a plot sketched out in 2017 and started my book in 2019, yet struggled at first. The characters were complex, but I was inspired by people I talked to, such as Dan Jones who told me about his work in children’s homes in the 90s and introduced me to Graham Levell. Graham grew up in care but turned his life around, gained some qualifications and ended up working in children’s homes himself. As a result of his work, he described some tragic cases of abuse he had read about and understood only too well the impact of childhood traumas on development. He was such an amazing person. He inspired parts of Joe’s character and dialogue.

“So from this point I began a complete re-write. In 2020, after talking on the phone with two senior police officers, one from the Met who handled similar cases to the one I was writing about, I was on a roll and really enjoyed developing my story.

“I completed the first draft in September. The book is aimed at aimed at anyone who enjoys a suspenseful twisty thriller and is especially for residents the Bognor and Chichester area. I am also hoping to raise awareness into emotional and mental health issues that affect modern-day people.”

Helen has also written a gangland thriller set in 1970s London, which evolved into a five-book series through the decades (Same Face Different Place).

“I’ve had a passion for writing since childhood but wrote my first full length novel in 2011.”