GUEST POST for BOOK REVIEWER Louise Wise Reviews


It isn't write what you know, it's know what you write!

"How I researched for The Penance List"
As with many Authors, being observational and asking ‘why?’ is my research. I tend to write what I know; my storylines are mainly founded on real life experiences. For characterisation research I draw on people I know or have closely watched, it’s easier to write from truth.
I’m in my fifties and luckily have had quite a hectic life (see below). I’ve worked in a few fascinating industries and have gleaned a wide range of characters and scenarios. Living in the very topics you write about, ie as a Police Crime Investigator is research gold.
For finer detailed research, ie blood splatter, gun calibre, psychotic behavioural patterns I read up as I go along. trying not to get too bogged down in detail as it can kill the flow.
My life experience ‘research’ is as follows – am British born of Irish parents, was plonked from the age of 8yrs into an Irish Catholic Nuns Boarding School. After a short spell of studying law (frustrated at lack of justice in our systems) I went on to work as a fashion model, married a rockmusician and worked in the music to film industry. Got divorced and then as a single mum worked within football, sports celebrity management, horseracing, children’s charities, and more recently for the Police as a Crime Investigator – Intel Analyst, Major Crime Team, Wanted and Absconder Units.  Oh yes, and somewhere in there I got drunk and married (again) in Vegas (Oops!). Am proud mum to a wonderful daughter (Contemporary Artist) and owned by three dogs.
For the past ten years I’ve been drawing on this natural research resource to write steamy Psychological Thrillers (The David Trilogy) and gritty Paranormal Crime Romance (The Fallen Angel Series).
The Penance List (The David Trilogy) was kick-started by an incident that happened to me in my twenties when I was living in London. Quite frighteningly and out of the blue, I crossed paths with a prolific serial attacker who targeted single girls living alone in basement flats in Notting Hill and Olympia. It was then that I realised evil can sit around any corner - learn to trust your gut.
This male haunted London for a long period of time; he was astute, studied his victims for days and avoided capture. I believe he attacked 14 or so women, luckily I got away unscathed (must have an Angel looking out for me) and managed to help Police ID him with a photo fit. He was a nice looking, well dressed, calm, cold, precise and unhurried. He didn’t say a word, just stared, seeming to revel in the fear he instilled.
I remember looking into his face and asking why? I needed to understand how a human could be that cruel to another. He had the look of a spoilt mother’s boy; I guessed his mother must have loved him at some stage, but what life changing event or who had turned him from a sweet little boy into an evil adult? The seed for complex protagonist David Howard was sown.
Using a mix of my own experiences (boarding schools, models, the press, celebrity management, footballers, London haunts, and fun loving career boy and girl friends) and further study into the psychotic mind, I created David’s fictional world which shines a light on the ripple effect carnage the misuse of power, religion and passion can cause.
The book has been adapted to film script, so we may see David on our screens one day. I loved working on his character so much that I’ve dragged him into The Fallen Angel Series where he causes further chaos in the skies.
The research for the paranormal Fallen Angel Series was based on a kidnap incident I experienced as a child. At 3 or 4 years old I was taken and got away (that Angel again!). The following week another little girl was taken, she didn’t get away. I remember being upset that the nasty man had got away, and said my prayers every night, asking God for a deal – That if I was a good girl, when I die, would he let me sit on a cloud for a while, invisible, and help him get the baddies that slip through his fingers? This wish has stayed with me throughout life, I tend to find myself supporting the underdog, and looking for justice.
The only research for this series is the imagination I had as a child, what I envisaged the place in the clouds to be like. My childhood experience mixed with my crime knowledge and the empowering thought that we’re not alone, creates a fictional fantasy where vigilante Angels dish out tough karma from the skies, protecting the underdog and sorting out the baddies. It’s fun, the angels are feisty, naughty and brave, their work is contemporary and thought provoking.
I guess, in a nutshell, my research has been my life.
Pleased be warned, The Penance List is a sexy thriller, think Psycho meets 50 Shades. It can be a little naughty at times and may not be for everyone. But if you’re brave enough, grab a glass of vino, close the bedroom door and read alone.
Thank you, and remember to follow that gut of yours, it’s the strongest tool in the box.
Siobhan x
Siobhan C Cunningham