Nottingham, London and Lee-on-Solent – three places that are unlikely to have featured in the same novel, until now that is.
I Came to Find a Girl is a psychological thriller set in Nottingham (with the odd excursion to the South Coast and a London finale), in which young artist Mia Jackson looks back on her recent past.
While studying art in Nottingham Mia meets famous artist Jack Flood, a man who compulsively films everything he sees. After a date that takes a twisted turn, there follows a battle of wills as they both try to gain the upper hand.
The story plays out in a climate of fear. Women are going missing and the culprit is yet to be caught.
Why Nottingham? Could the story have taken place elsewhere?
‘Write what you know’ is a quote frequently repeated, and all the locations I’ve used are places I know well. Nottingham was where I spent three years studying textile design and so it made sense to use my experience of student life as the backdrop to the trials that face my protagonist Mia Jackson.
Write what you know, but also write to find out what you really think. Novels can evolve from a single image, or an unshakeable idea, or perhaps a short story that demands more attention and development.
For me, there was a desire to revisit Nottingham by night – its buzzy club scene, and its contrasting edgier side. And at the same time, I was thinking about the naivety of youth and what if, against your better judgement, you find yourself alone with someone you know little about?
‘One place comprehended can make us understand other places better. Sense of place gives equilibrium, extended, it is sense of direction too,’ Eudora Welty states in On Writing.
Nottingham is integral to this novel. It’s a dark portrait of a city I love. There’s no room for Robin Hood, but it does play on Nottingham’s reputation for violent crime – where better to set a suspenseful, psychological whodunit?
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Photo: Nottingham Council & Old Market Square by Ray Teece