In the run up to my new release, I have started thinking about some of the influences which inspired my series.
Rosebrook based in Kent, is a fictitious town but very much based on the small market town of Loughborough which is where I grew up. Some may wonder why I didn’t just stick to Loughborough. I would have liked to – only the town needed to be in easy reach of London and a short distance to the south.
One of the most prominent locations in ‘Same Face Different Place’ is the Community Centre. It is the place where Eleanor works as a volunteer – but it was actually inspired by a place called ‘John Storer House,’ where I worked for a while. In 1989, I worked there as ‘Information Officer’ responsible for running the Information Centre and producing in-house leaflets such as ‘Hotels and Guest Houses’ and lists of self-help groups. It was a varied role as well as one of the most enjoyable jobs, I have ever had.
The manager, Bernard Smith, was a kind man and possibly inspired some of the book’s more virtuous characters such as Bernard James (manager of Toynbee Hall in Book 1 Beginnings) and his protégée, Peter Summerville. I was impressed when he and his wife opened up the Community Centre on Christmas Day, mainly for those less fortunate (such as the elderly and the lonely) as a social hub where they could enjoy a little company and get a Christmas dinner.
What influences came into Pleasures?
Some of the Community Liaison officers are based on real people. Being a Community Centre, John Storer house was a nucleus for the multi-cultural society of Loughborough. In the year I worked there, we were invited to have dinner at the house of a Muslim girl, whose family prepared us a wonderful buffet and couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. That same year, I managed to wangle about 5 Christmas dinners, including a special lunch for the volunteers and a meal at our local Hindu temple.
I saw this Community Centre as the microcosm of a perfect world. People from all cultures and religions getting together to eat, drink, celebrate and generally have a great time together. Oh, if only, this was true across the globe!
The best thing about John Storer House was that it was run by a really nice bunch of people – many of whom were volunteers. It was designed to promote good causes, it was home to the CAB and WRVS as well as being a drop-in centre for the elderly.
In the context of ‘Same Face Different Place,’ Rosebrook Community Centre is managed by a man named Peter, a counsellor, a man so caring, he is almost saint like (though he hides a dark past – an abused runaway from a Catholic run Care Home in Ireland, Peter hides the fact that he was also once an IRA supporter.)
The one thing I learned from my employment at John Storer House, was that people from all backgrounds could mingle and support each other. We live in a world of varied cultures where we should respect each other; form a society based on friendship, not hate.
Same Face Different Place is a mystery suspense thriller which unravels over 4 decades, but at the core of the book is a group of wronged individuals who join forces to create their own perfect community – yet overshadowed by the deadliest of enemies.
Look out for Book 3 Pleasures, with free prelude, ‘The Battle for the Land’ soon to be released.