The Hidden Legacy began life as two news items which I’d picked up from the radio while driving to work and put to one side in case I might one day be able to use them both as material for separate short stories. The first concerned an 11-year-old schoolgirl who had killed the child she was babysitting back in the late 1960s. Nearly forty years later, having been released under an assumed and protected identity, she was seeking a court injunction to prevent her identity being made public, using as her justification the fact that she now had a teenage daughter who knew nothing of her past. I remember wondering at the time just what it must have been like to live with the pressure of that conversation hanging over her head for all these years. How long do you tell yourself that you’ll get around to it someday? Not just yet, but one day. And when exactly is the right time to tell your daughter something of that magnitude?
The other item is much hazier in my mind. It had something to do with an inheritance that made no sense to the fortunate individual because he’d never heard of his benefactor and hadn’t the faintest idea why he should have been singled out but I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was he inherited or how it all panned out eventually. It didn’t really matter – I knew what I needed for The Hidden Legacy.
I’d imagine it’s easy to assume, given the complexities of the plot and the detailed planning I invested in it, that the storyline came first but that’s not really the case. I already had Ellen as a character in mind. She grew out of an experiment with a character sheet which asked me to identify any number of details about a character’s life. I dutifully completed these one evening and refined them over a period of time until I could tell you without hesitation just about anything you might want to know about Ellen. Obviously I knew the salient details such as date of birth, age, height, hair etc but the sheets enabled me to know more intimate details such as her income bracket, things she deeply regretted never having done, which newspaper she read, taste in music, favourite takeaway, preferred type of weather, major weakness, favourite clothes for relaxing in, deepest secret, ambition for 10 years from now, earliest childhood memory, reaction to stress, even her political and religious persuasions. In short, I knew just about everything about my central character and carried her around with me everywhere I went for months on end, constantly asking myself: now how would Ellen feel about that. It was a curious, almost schizophrenic spell but I’m convinced it was the right thing to do because when it came to taking that opening chapter and planning where to go from there in order to bring the two timelines together I knew instinctively what would work with Ellen and what could be ruled out. I wanted a scenario that would put her under real pressure and threaten the things she held most dear but at the same time it had to be something she simply could not walk away from.
I’ve already completed the second novel subject to the whole editing process. It has the provisional title of The Goose Drank Wine and will be published simultaneously as an eBook and paperback towards the end of next year. I’m reluctant to say too much about it just now, other than to say that it again involves the unravelling of a mystery. This time however there are a number of main characters rather than just a strong female lead. There’s also a little more humour and possibly a darker feel to some of it but I hope it will engage readers in the same way as The Hidden Legacy. It should certainly raise a few questions for them to consider.
The Hidden Legacy by G.J Minett is out in ebook on 5th November and released as a paperback in 2016 (Twenty7).