Delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Alison Baillie’s A Fractured Winter, freshly published by Bloodhound Books. More about the book later! I’ve got a guest post for you first:
The lure of the sea
I love the sea – it is in my blood. My father was from Aberdeen, from an old fishing family, and my mother was from Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, and grew up in a house a few yards from the beach. I live in Switzerland, and could hardly be further from the sea, and perhaps because of this, seaside places always feature in my books.
Part of A Fractured Winter is set in Scarborough, a seaside town in Yorkshire, and features Marie, a lonely, bookish eight-year-old girl, with an over-protective mother and a cruel, mentally-abusive father. Her parents are Scottish, but she has never been to Scotland or seen any of her relatives, and can only escape from the cold atmosphere at home and the bullying at school by reading books from the library.
My life is very different from Marie’s, but I used some of my childhood memories when I was writing her story. Like her, I was born in Scarborough of Scottish parents. We moved away when I was only three years old but we often went back to visit and through stories and photos I feel as if I can remember that time.
When I was researching A Fractured Winter, I went back to Scarborough and photographed some of the scenes I’ve used in the book. I visited the beautiful North Bay, a long beach divided from the more commercial South Bay by the castle. Not far from the sea is the flat where we lived, above the chemist’s shop where my father worked, in a row of shops opposite Peasholm Park. It is now a bookie’s, and Marie lives in this flat.
Another character in A Fractured Winter, Lucy, goes to university in St Andrews, to study German. I also went to university there, although I studied English, but like Lucy I chose it solely from pictures, because of the sea and the historic buildings. I’ve used some of my memories for the description of Lucy’s experiences, although once again my story is, fortunately very different from hers.
Like me, Lucy then goes to Edinburgh for her teacher training. She then, gets a job in Portobello, as I did, although she is different from me in that she teaches German and has a young son (and our experiences in the school are very different!) But we both love the beautiful Portobello Beach. This beach played a large role in my first book, Sewing the Shadows Together, and also features in my third book which I am working on at the moment. It is one of my favourite places in the world, and whenever I go back to Scotland, as I do frequently, I always walk along the wonderful promenade, smelling the salt air and watching the colours change on the waves.
My books are fiction, but I always base them in places I know, and love to walk the streets, and beaches, with my characters, reliving memories.
When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide
From the outside, Olivia seems to lead an idyllic existence with her husband and children. But when she starts receiving notes, she knows her perfect life is under threat.
She thought she’d managed to put the past behind her, but someone seems determined to reveal her secret.
Meanwhile girls are vanishing in the area and Olivia fears for her family’s safety.
Has someone discovered the real reason she left Scotland all those years ago?
And does her secret have links to the recent disappearances?
When someone is out to get you, is there anywhere you can hide?
Alison Baillie was born in Scarborough of Scottish parents and lived in County Durham, Somerset and the Yorkshire Dales before going to university in Scotland. She then taught English in several Edinburgh secondary schools before moving to Switzerland where she still lives now. She’s taught English as a Foreign Language in Finland and Switzerland.
When she stopped teaching full-time, she fulfilled a life-time ambition and wrote Sewing the Shadows Together, a psychological suspense novel inspired in part by events when she was teaching in Scotland. She is fascinated by the way we are influenced by the events of our past and has now written a second novel, A Fractured Winter, set in Switzerland, Scotland and Yorkshire.
She has two sons and three grandchildren and is proud of their international roots, having a mixture of Scottish, Swiss, Polish and Finnish heritage. As well as spending time with them, she loves travelling, walking in the mountains and by the sea, reading and writing.