Where do authors get their inspiration? In this weeks blog Crime Cymru member Cheryl Rees-Price shares the inspiration for her novel Blue Hollow.
The moment of inspiration
Inspiration for my books comes is many different forms. A place I stumble on while out walking, a conversation, a newspaper article, a childhood memory, or even a comment on social media.
The one that stand out the most for me is the events that sparked the idea for my standalone thriller, Blue Hollow. It came about in a very unexpected way. I was asked to the write the memoirs of an ex con who had served fifteen years in a category A prison.
At first I didn’t want to take on the job. As you can imagine it was a serious crime and one I didn’t want to hear the details about. What piqued my interest in the end was the “why?”
Over a few weeks I conducted interviews. I took a recording device and most of the time just let him talk. The story I heard was shocking, but not in the way I expected. His life leading up to the crime and the treatment he received in prison was heart-breaking to listen to. This person had a difficult and often traumatic childhood. In and out of children’s homes and young offenders institutions. Abused by those who should have been helping him. There was no one to help and no one listening. He turned to drink, and drugs and his life spiralled out of control. While I do not condone the crime he committed, I had to admire his ability to kick the drugs and turn his life around. He left prison, got married and had two sons. I guess the purpose of the memoirs was a lesson to his children.
A few weeks later I was out searching for a location for my next book when I came upon a derelict building. After some research I found out that it was the Mid-Wales Hospital, also known as Talgarth Hospital and the Brecon and Radnor Counties Joint Asylum. It had been left empty and neglected for decades.
It was built in 1900 and was used for 99 years. Several controversial treatments were carried out there, including lobotomies. During the second world war it was used as a military hospital for soldiers suffering from PTSD. There is a graveyard on the site which is overgrown and a small chapel with a collapsed roof. There is an eerie atmosphere that surrounds the building and although it is protected by CCTV it has attracted ghost hunters over the years. If you search the internet you can find accounts of people that have entered the building after dark.
It was this building and the interviews that inspired Blue Hollow. With permission of the ex-prisoner some of the scenes in the book are taken from his personal experiences.
It’s a story of a lifelong friendship forged by 5 young boys who share a traumatic experience. Their search for the truth and justice endangers the lives of those they love, often with tragic consequences.
From the book Jacket
When her old family friend Eddie asks her to write his memoirs, little does journalist Dora Lewis know he has a bag full of secrets to unburden. All of them dangerous.
So dangerous, in fact, that Eddie is murdered.
Dora wants to get to the truth, but all she has to go on is a set of cassette tapes that Eddie left hidden for only her to find.
Piece by piece she must put the puzzle of his life together. But as the picture takes shape, Dora realises that she too is in danger.
The same people are gunning for her, and they have a very special reason to.
Justice for Eddie won’t just mean going up against powerful and dangerous people. It will mean confronting the truth of Dora’s own past.
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.
Cheryl’s website can be found here