I was asked recently if my lead female character in The Evil Beneath, Juliet Grey, is based on me.
Juliet is a Psychotherapist, so I draw on my own experiences in this field and I used to live in Putney, near The Thames, where much of the story is based, but that’s probably as far as any similarity between us goes. Juliet is far more intrepid than I am. She’s also younger (31), smarter, more outspoken, intuitive and prepared to take risks than me! I can’t give it away, but Juliet decides right near the end to sneak into a dangerous place, under the noses of the police and puts herself in considerable jeopardy.
There is one ‘true to life’ scene in the book near the beginning. Just like Juliet, I worked at a termination clinic. When I attended a surgical procedure as part of my induction, I was given a severe telling off for reaching out to hold the hand of a sixteen-year-old girl in pain. I was extremely shocked at the callousness of the surgeon (of course, I changed his name in the book!).
At the start of The Evil Beneath, Juliet is trying to get over her relationship with Andrew, a romantic, exciting artist who is also an alcoholic. Thankfully, I don’t have any alcoholics in my life, but as a therapist I’ve worked with alcohol-dependent people and with those around them who have to pick up the pieces. Juliet still loves Andrew, but can’t bear the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ aspect of his character. She doesn’t know which one she’ll meet when she opens the door to him.
Juliet teams up with DCI Bradley Madison, in order to try to outwit the killer and get to the next bridge before the next murder can take place. Juliet describes the DCI as follows:
‘Tall and charismatic, he looked like a hybrid between an airline pilot and an Italian waiter. The kind of pilot who would wink at you as you boarded the plane. The kind of waiter who would give you extra parmesan on your spaghetti bolognaise.’
In my mind, Juliet’s character – sharp and intelligent, cool, but vulnerable - brings to mind Emilia Fox (with a dark wig!). She would be a great fit in a TV/film adaptation. I think Richard Armitage would do nicely on screen, as Brad. You’ll have to read the book to see how their stormy relationship progresses.
The psychotherapy scenes are more or less true to life. I wanted to let readers glimpse what goes on behind closed doors in the world of therapy, because the process is so intriguing and full of rules, codes and boundaries. For anyone tempted to know what it’s like to sit in the client’s chair or how a consultation might proceed, those scenes are pretty much true to life - but the clients themselves aren't real.