In the Blood (Severn House)
Suzie Fewings is a keen family history researcher. At first she is excited to find an ancestor with the same name as her teenage son, Thomas Loosemore. But what she finds next upsets her.
Can there possibly be a link between the dark past of that earlier Thomas and the increasingly sinister shadow falling over her own Tom?
A teenage girl is missing. And if it's not Tom, is Suzie's daughter Millie in danger too?
Why Did I Write It?
I began researching my family history as a relaxation from writing novels. I should have known better. Instead of getting away from storytelling, I found myself writing scores of stories about my ancestors.
But it was not only the stories I uncovered which were fascinating. It was the process of discovery itself. I love getting back to the primary sources. Itís a real thrill to handle the actual document your ancestor wrote 300 years ago Ė though nowadays it usually has to be viewed at second hand on microfiche. Iíve been privileged to visit a medieval farmhouse my family lived in. I walk the countryside where they lived and farmed, follow the green lane along which one of them must have walked on Sundays to meet his future wife at the Methodist chapel.
And then thereís the detective work, the problem solving. If the early parish registers have been lost, where else can you turn for information? Churchwardensí accounts, the expenditure of the Overseers of the Poor, property deeds, wills, court cases. Thereís a real thrill when the hunch you have been following is confirmed by the discovery of a document saying what you hoped, or telling you things you hadnít imagined.
Iíve found everything, from paupers who were agricultural labourers to lords of the manor, with pedigrees (though not always reliable) going back to the Normans. What has astonished me is how much information is available. I thought if my ancestors were labourers, who didnít write letters or keep diaries, that there would be only baptisms, marriages and burials to record their lives. But Iíve been amazed to find how much detail has survived about them.
Inevitably, I found myself drawn to write about this Ė not just stories of the past, but the story of how someone discovers her past. And of course, we have families in the present too. That contemporary story forms the other half of this novel. Both involve uncomfortable violence.
A particular feature of this book is the appendix. This gives details of the sources I used, which will be of help to other family history researchers. It also lists the real-life places which provided the inspiration for many of the scenes in the book.
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