Briefly tell us about your book.
Unforgiven is the story of Lexi Winter, a victim of childhood abuse who learned to take care of herself from a very young age after escaping to the streets and doing whatever she needed to do to survive. As one of her jobs involved online scamming, Lexi’s developed a good working knowledge of the dark web and computer hacking, so after reuniting with her sister Bailee, now a child protection officer, she uses these skills to assist Bailee to catch an online predator. When it works, she continues to help bring down others.
It’s through Bailee’s contacts with the police that Lexi learns the man who abused her in childhood is claiming to have taken another child. Though she believes the perpetrator to be a copycat she agrees to help, even though this means working with the police officer who failed to help her as a child, Rachael Langley. Though Lexi doesn’t have a high opinion of police and refuses to do things by the book, the combination of Lexi’s dark web skills and Rachael’s police work meld in order to bring down a monster.
What inspired the idea behind this book?
I really enjoy writing strong female protagonists. In Unforgiven I set out to create a character I could craft to explore the fundamental meaning of justice beyond simply what the law defines as right and wrong. I wanted a character who was both ‘real’ and heavily flawed. I needed to give her a strong enough and believable enough reason to be the person she’s become, to ensure that despite her unorthodox behaviour, she would garner enough empathy and support from the reader to have them take the journey with her.
What was the research process like for the book?
Eye-opening and at times a little harrowing. But that research strengthened my resolve to tell the story. We all know children suffer at the hands of abusers in this country but I don’t think most of us realise how common and widespread a problem it is. A quick look online reveals hundreds of stories of survivors and how the abuse they suffer at a young age stays with them and affects their entire lives. The resolve of many of them to turn their lives around after suffering a range of serious emotional problems as a result of their trauma is as inspiring as their stories are heartbreaking.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
Finding the right balance between telling the story of how Lexi was able to overcome an horrific childhood and not overworking the details. I wanted to write a story readers could enjoy, focussing on Lexi finding justice and becoming the best version of herself while not underwriting the gravity of what she went through as a child.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
Lexi is the most demanding character I’ve ever written. Though my writing schedule has never exactly revolved around working routine hours, it’s become even more unpredictable since creating her character. When I began working on the second book in the series I had a lot of follow up to do and ideas as to what to explore next, so the story was in my head all of time. It took a lot longer than it should have to write, because I was home-schooling on top of having the regular farm work to get done, but Lexi was never far from my mind. And it’s the same with the third book I’m working on now. I find myself scribbling notes at all times of the day and night and my phone voice recorder is getting a workout. I know a lot of authors say they routinely talk to their characters and now I get it. Lexi has developed her own strong voice and I’m often left scrambling to catch up.