How The D.I. Gus McGuire series came about
Unquiet Souls took many years to write. It was one of those books that started off with a niggling idea and grew from there. The niggling idea sprang from a tragic event that happened in a house near where I live. This event impacted quite strongly on me and made me think about how much children rely on adults for their safety, and how when adults either fail in their duty of care or act as monsters, children can suffer. The Unquiet Souls of the title refers to both the children and the monsters who abuse them.
Although Unquiet Souls tackles some difficult subject matter, I felt it was important to explore the issues of child trafficking, perversion and how children can become invisible in our society. Having said that, I was careful to expose the horror of child trafficking whilst carefully avoiding any gratuitous descriptions.
As usual I explored all sorts of ‘What If?’ questions during the writing of the novel. What would you do if you discovered your partner had disturbing images on their PC? How could you develop enough trust to start another relationship? How could the desperation of a familial group of children go unnoticed in their community? How far would you go to protect your siblings? Could you forgive your own child for the evil acts they’ve committed?
As well as exploring the issues raised above, Unquiet Souls also establishes my main characters in the D.I. Gus McGuire series. Gus himself is of dual heritage and comes from a very close-knit family. However, at the start of Unquiet Souls he has just returned to work after a horrific incident. He suffers from PTSD, has physical injuries and desperately needs to work through his demons by investigating this case. His mum and dad are both of Scottish descent. His mum is a paediatrician and his dad is a pathologist. His dad is a big bluff Scot whilst his mum is of dual Jamaican/Scottish heritage and is a slightly vague woman who spends a lot of time cooking and baking largely inedible food. He also has a sister.
On the team we have his trusty colleague, D.S. Alice Cooper. (Yes, she shares her name with a Rockstar as a result of her somewhat naive scientist parents lack contact with the real world) Alice, despite being small in stature, is feisty, strong and a bit of a goth. She has secrets from her past which come to light in future books. It is also in this novel that we meet the team’s geeky D.C. Compton (Compo). Compo is one of my most popular characters. He is lovable, eats almost non-stop and listens to music all the time he is working. He loves Gus’ family and is always on hand to eat even the most inedible of Gus’ mum’s cooking.