Like many people, I enjoy a good mystery. Stories where you need to know what happens next. Tales that pique your curiosity, and keep you turning the page to get to the end.
Over the years, I’ve found missing people intrigued me. Why did they disappear? Was it an accident or something more sinister? Is there a happy ending or does it end in tragedy? Also, just as importantly, how does it affect those left behind?
Before I thought about becoming a published author, many of the stories I’d written over the years involved this mystery.
In 2013, I found I could self-publish via Amazon and the first thing I wanted to do was a book containing the stories of those people.
The Missing was finally published in 2014, although it went through a couple of changes since then; new cover, new formatting and an extra story.
Did you know for instance, that there are 300,000 people reported missing each year, working out at almost 900 a day?
The first high profile case I recall was that of Lord Lucan in 1974. His wife claimed her husband had attacked her, and murdered their nanny. The police investigated, but Lord Lucan was never found and to this day it remains a mystery. You can read the full story here.
Journalist Amelia Hill wrote a fascinating article in the Guardian in 2012 about a girl who became pregnant. Her boyfriend didn’t want to know, and her parents told her to get an abortion. She felt she had no option but to run away. She had her baby, but says her life had been a lie ever since.
As part of my research I went onto the missing person’s website. There were many stories about people who had disappeared and those left behind. One mum showed the bedroom of her son left exactly as it was left in 2006. The torment she must live with wondering whether he is still alive is hard to imagine.
Another high profile case was that of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh who disappeared in 1985. An attractive young woman who had penciled in her diary that she was meeting a Mr Kipper. She was never seen again, her remains never found and Mr Kipper was never traced. Estate agents immediately changed the way they worked and Suzy’s mother founded a Trust in the name of her daughter that deals with personal safety.
Not all cases are high profile, and in 2012 an appeal was launched for a missing woman who had not long given birth. She was already suffering from anxiety and depression. It could have gone either way and for a few days, everyone lived in hope until they found her body.
I read a story called Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver. It told an intriguing tale about a young woman who visited her sister and when she arrived there is no one home. The whole family had disappeared right in the middle of what they were doing. How could they just disappear, leaving their dog, and food cooking? It’s a great read and that element of mystery was a key factor.
Little Ben Needham was aged just 21 months when he disappeared in 1991. He was on holiday on the Greek Island of Kos with his family. He was being looking after by his grandparents at their farmhouse when he vanished. It made the news all over the world and in recent years and it now finally looks as if the boy wandered onto a nearby building site and was killed in a tragic accident. The website gives the details and how his mother always lived in the hope of him being found.
Madeline McCann is the most recent, even though it is now over 10 years ago. In 2007, the four-year-old girl was abducted while on holiday with her family. She was a beautiful little thing with blonde hair and big blue eyes. She captured everyone’s hearts. Despite a massive investigation and search. The police had no viable leads and no trace of her was ever found. It’s a tragedy and like many others, I still hope one day the truth will emerge.
There are many more stories with no conclusion offered and it’s frustrating not to have an end. I’ve always wondered what makes people want to disappear and what are their stories.
One of the first tales I wrote was about a young girl who ran away to London in effort to get away from her problems. When Christmas comes, she realises she just wants to be with her family. You can read Home for Christmas here.
One day watching a television programme that searches for missing people, I was suddenly struck by an idea. What if you were watching and your face came up on screen as a missing person?
Runaway tells of Amanda, who had problems with her brothers. She takes off to Scotland and creates a new life for herself. When she and her boyfriend are watching television, it is her face that comes up onscreen and he is shocked. The people left behind don’t always know the reasons why their loved ones leave. It affects them in difference ways and many suffer for years. So in this story, I’ve included the bewildered family and how they dealt with her disappearance.
As mentioned before, some stories do not have ending and we are not always given that neatly wrapped up conclusion. So in Missing! the police bring in family and friends in for questioning. It seems they all have something to hide.
A murder is left undiscovered for many years, is brought to light again as Detective Carl Sheridan investigates The Skeleton in The Cellar.
In The Search for Daniel, Ellie is looking for the brother who walked out after a family row. The song Daniel, sung by the group Wilson Phillips, inspired this story. Something in the lyrics and they way they were sang made me put pen to paper. I’ve also included a real place; the home of my grandparent’s in Oswestry. It still stands today, and what Ellie discovers when she locates him, is something she never imagined.
And finally another song inspired story. This time 90s hit Hazard by Richard Marx. The haunting music and story-like lyrics coupled with the video brought Down by the River to life. When Mary-Jo goes missing, her best friend Shelby must return to the small town she grew up in to search for her friend. Shelby has the gift of visions and soon realises there is something more sinister at work.