Today I am very happy to welcome Michelle Davies to the blog talking about one of the characters in her novel Gone Astray. Maggie is a Family Liasion Officer – not often the main focus of police teams in Crime novels so something a little different there for you…
There’s something about Maggie…
A question I’m often asked these days is whether I’ve put a lot of myself into my characters, particularly my series detective, DC Maggie Neville.
On paper, the answer would appear to be ‘nothing’: Maggie is in her late 20s, lives alone in the town where she was born and raised, doesn’t have much of a social life and is unhealthily close to her sister Lou, a single mum with three children by different dads. I, on the other hand, am hitting my mid-40s, I live in London with my partner Rory and our seven-year-old daughter Sophie, and while parenting has curbed any chance of spontaneous nights out, I still go out more than Maggie does!
But there is a reason Maggie is like she is. I wanted my leading police character in Gone Astray to be unique, and as a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) had never taken centre stage before in a detective series, it was the perfect role and I created Maggie to fit it.
My research revealed that many officers who undergo FLO training have themselves experienced a degree of grief that makes them empathetic to the relatives they are helping. For Maggie, that comes the form of an accident when she was a teenager in which someone she knew was killed and for which she blames herself.
Her relationship with her sister Lou, while frustrating at times, demonstrates her belief in the importance of familial ties – a crucial trait for any FLO. It also proves she has patience in spades, another requisite of the job, as it can many hours and days to coax traumatised relatives into giving statements.
I then deliberately cast Maggie in her 20s because I didn’t want her to be jaded like a more senior officer in his/her 40s might be. The absence of cynicism, particularly in regard to policing, makes her outlook generally positive, which again is a good way to be when you’re surrounded daily by so much grief. I’m also a massive Prime Suspect fan and used to wonder what had made DCI Jane Tennison the way she was, so I was very happy when Lynda LaPlante explored her early years in Tennison. I see Maggie as Tennison was before the job wore her down.
I hope you like Maggie and what she stands for. We may not be similar, but she really is a woman after my own heart.
About the Book:
What if someone thinks they deserve their life more than you?
When a Lesley Kinnock buys a lottery ticket on a whim, it changes her life more than she could have imagined . . .
Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a £15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives – and friends – as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams.
But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone.
DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family. And she has a crisis threatening her own life – a secret from the past that could shatter everything she’s worked so hard to build.
Read my review of Gone Astray HERE
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