Having written three middle grade children’s books, I started to think about writing a book for teenagers. I wanted to explore more adult themes, such as trying to find your place in the world, intense friendships, and first love. After reading many contemporary YA books – mysteries, romances, crime stories – I’m now working on my own YA novel. Provisionally entitled We Are Family, it’s the story of two girls who have spent their lives in the care system, who run away to London. The two of them are drawn into a murky and dangerous criminal underworld from which it’s very hard to escape.
When looking for ideas for a story, I often start with a place or a building. An old priory near where I live was the inspiration for Haunted, and Acacia Villa in Lady in Red was modelled on the house I lived in as a child. The setting for We Are Family came when I discovered a website which described the many abandoned tube stations hidden under the streets of London.
Once I had the setting and the two main characters, a story quickly evolved about love, crime, and the search for belonging.
If you would like to discover more about these crumbling, spooky, secret places, the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden has recreated some of these locations as part of a Hidden London exhibition. They also run Hidden London tours around several abandoned stations.