A Psychological Thriller in #Sussex

With publication of LETHAL TIES less than a week away, I’ve been writing about my characters, the psychological issues that affect their lives, but this weeks post is about my book’s all important location: West Sussex.

Bognor Regis

I’ve lived here since 1996 and despite some of the adverse (and in my opinion), unfair publicity, Bognor in fact, boasts more hours of sunshine than anywhere in the UK, has a lovely stretch of beach and a unique coastal landscape to the west. The rocks lining the shore (Bognor Rocks) are haven to many fossils, a mysterious sight at low tide, even more so behind a sea mist or in the fading light of a sunset.

Bognor Beach

Woven into in the storyline, Sussex residents will recognise some familiar haunts: from meetings in the Waverley pub on the seafront, to a meal at Mamma Mia, and there is even a touch of romance when two character dine at Sen Tapas.

Bognor town centre features, as does the Job Centre and Marine Park Gardens. Maisie has a flat in Annadale Avenue (chosen for it’s proximity to the Station, a sneaky escape route through a garden) and Joe gets a job in Sainsbury’s as an online shopper, (a job I was hired for myself in 2016).

I have already mentioned the sea mists in Bognor Regis and in one scene, this creates an eerie atmosphere when characters find themselves at the centre of a police investigation.

sussex and the south downs

The story begins in Bognor. Maisie finds her old friend, Joe, sleeping rough in the beach hut opposite the Waverley and helps him to turn his life around.

That is, before Joe receives vile abuse on twitter. Clues in the tweets suggest they could be in danger but with a build up of suspense, one character is drawn further afield to other areas in West Sussex, fascinated by the countryside and various beauty spots.


Nestling on the edge of the South Downs sits the village of Eartham, its idyllic pub, the George, and the Woods beyond. But when Maisie is invited on an impromptu day out, she has no idea what is in store for her.

The George at Eartham
The George is a pub where the characters enjoy Sunday Lunch
Eartham Woods
A lovely place for a walk… but for Maisie, forests cause panic.
Views from Goodwood Trundle
The view from Goodwood Trundle
The Pergola at West Dean Gardens
The Pergola at West Dean Gardens

The day takes many twists and turns. After nearly suffering a panic attack in Eartham Woods, (as a result of her phobia) she suggests heading over Goodwood way and a visit to West Dean Gardens, one of her favourite places. West Dean Gardens is an impressive estate which looks stunning in all seasons, notable for its pergola, mature trees and walled Victorian kitchen gardens.

“… as we strolled across the lawn, I could not wait to show him the pergola; a spectacular three-hundred-foot Edwardian walkway paved in flagstone. 
An air of mystery immersed us as we followed the path to the end; the climbing plants twisting around the pillars, a riot of wild roses fragrant against the feathery purple plumes of wisteria…”

East Lavant

The concluding part of the story takes place in East Lavant, a tiny village just outside Chichester. Maisie is lured to a mysterious but beautiful cottage nestling in the countryside beyond the village. Could this be the house of her dreams?

East Lavant, near Chichester

There is something about the remote woodland location that evokes suspicion in Joe. All he wants to do is protect Maisie yet fears she is becoming isolated. From the first trip to East Lavant however, the story gathers momentum, before the mystery that’s haunted them since childhood is revealed…


The story ends in Pagham, with reference to the tranquil harbour, a nesting place for migrating birds and the tiny white herons known as egrets. Where do the characters go from here? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, West Sussex

My debut Sussex based psychological thriller LETHAL TIES will be published this coming Sunday (April 18th 2021) and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

It will soon be available in paperback too, and I am hoping to hold a Bognor book launch in the summer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog in the run up to LETHAL TIES being published. For more information, stay in touch by networking with me on social media.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.helenchristmas
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SFDPBeginnings
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Website: http://www.samefacedifferentplace.com/

One Groovy Little Paperback – 17th December 2014

Following on from my last post, I decided to publish my 3rd novel on Amazon, so there are now 3 books in the ‘Same Face Different Place’ series.

Same Face Different Place Pleasures

In the last post, I wanted to offer the prelude FREE as a gift to all those who enjoyed other books in the series and wanted a little taste of Book 3 ‘Pleasures’ in advance of its release in Spring 2o15. However, there haven’t been that many takers! I guess everyone is just inundated with free books at the moment – especially with Kindle Unlimited – where the privilege of offering our books as freebies has lost its appeal.

I felt the best way forward was therefore just to get it on Amazon anyway where it cannot be offered free, but at least it’s out there. I spent the best part of a weekend, typesetting a printed version on Createspace. However, when the proof copy turned up a couple of weeks later, I couldn’t have been more delighted with it! I created the cover using two library shots from 123RF and with its ghostly blue forest and architectural plans, it depicts the story very well. It’s a little smaller than the other two books too as I opted for the 5.5cm x 8.5cm.

But it is a really sweet little book.

Book 3 Pleasures by Helen J. Christmas

 There’s nothing quite like holding a real book in your hands, knowing this is something you have created yourself. In fact, I have to admire Createspace and Amazon, for making this possible. Without this self-publishing platform, none of this would be possible. It’s a wonderful platform for authors and I have to confess I’ve very pleased with the result.

Click here to view the new release on Amazon.

Readers can still enjoy this book FREE, by the way, with no strings attached. Visit my previous post for details.

First Review of an e-book – 19th June 2012

Now I have started feeling my way around this fascinating world of e-book publishing, I have realised the importance of supporting the works of other independent authors like myself. Having dipped my toes into the ocean of networking sites such as Twitter, Good Reads and Book Promo Group I have come across many interesting sounding authors and books – and one which caught my eye was ‘Slick Deals’ by Helen Carey. First of all, because it was a thriller – and secondly, because it had an environmental theme which intrigued me.

I took a glance at the sample on Amazon, read the prologue and I was instantly drawn in by both the story as well as the writing style. So I thought I’d give it a try. It should be worth noting that this is the first time I have bought an e-book for my kindle from an unknown author. Here goes…

My Review of ‘Slick Deals’ by Helen Carey

So on to my review: this was a great story with a really well thought out plot. I must confess I don’t know much about oil trading, but the author came across as being extremely knowledgeable, injecting enough information into the story to give the reader a good overview, but without bogging them down with too much detail. The book moved along at a nice pace and kept my interest all the way through. In fact there were certain points in the story, where I couldn’t wait to pick it up again! It was a real page turner.

Some of the descriptions really shone through too – in particular, the boat trip scene along the Welsh coast, when they went out spotting dolphins which was beautifully written and really put me in the picture (I could almost smell the sea!). There was plenty of edge of the seat action too, which all added to my enjoyment of the book. I also liked the way a number of global issues were raised, such as the illegal trade in endangered species, as well as the need to protect the planet, but without preaching green politics. A real eye-opener. Very well done and I shall definitely be buying more books by this author as well as more kindle books in general.

I highly recommend this book so here is the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slick-Deals-ebook/dp/B006GDO30S

I’ll be adding this review to Amazon and also Goodreads soon. But first of all I would just like to say a little more about e-publishing, in support of the authors who choose this route.

My Views on Self-Published Independent Authors

I won’t deny I have picked up a little snobbery in the world of publishing of late. There are a few ‘published’ authors out there who seem intent on moaning that ‘anyone can publish a book on Amazon now’ and therefore assume such novels are inferior, full of grammatical errors and who an earth would buy a book from a self published author no-one has ever heard of?

I take these comments with a huge pinch of salt. Books are subjective. I am not ashamed to say I have read a number of ‘published’ books, some of which I have been unable to finish and thought to be complete tosh (and that’s being kind). Whereas here is a self-published Kindle book which I personally enjoyed as much as anything I would buy from a book store, if not more!

The truth is, that publishers receive 100s of manuscripts every week from hopeful authors and probably reject over 95% of them. Even best selling author JK Rowling’s first novel was rejected 12 times which just about says it all!

Yet, there are many very talented authors out there, whose works would never see the light of day, if it was not for the mechanism of self-publishing on Amazon. And we as readers, would otherwise never get an opportunity to enjoy their great books, if the entire industry was governed by conventional publishing houses. So judge for yourselves. Reading is all about entertainment – and that’s what really matters.