Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for Buried Sins and I’m pleased to be sharing a guest post from author Louise Mullins. This post is presented with thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and Louise Mullins for writing her guest post.
Introducing Welsh Detective Inspector Emma Locke who appears in her very own upcoming procedural series.
Readers who enjoy books by C.L. Taylor, K.L. Slater, and Rachel Abbott will love this gritty, addictive, standalone psychological thriller.
When Carys returns to her childhood home, inherited after the death of her father, she is shocked to discover the bones of an infant buried in the paddock. Days later, DI Locke’s team uncover the remains of a missing girl, sparking vivid memories of the day Carys was abducted by The Shadow Man.
While the evidence against her father mounts, Carys recalls more of her past. And each new revelation provides DI Locke with the proof she needs to close the cases of several girls’ disappearances.
Sometimes the past refuses to stay buried.
Louise Mullins writes about her inspiration for Buried Sins.
Beneath The Crime Scene
In August 2017 The Children’s Charity reported that of the estimated 100,000 children who go missing each year in the UK (approximately 4,500 from Wales) only 3,750 of them return. A year-long multi-agency study involving various professionals including the police, social services, and The Children’s Charity produced a report titled The Knowledge Gap, in which they recorded the reasons given by youths for their disappearances during their Return Home Debriefs with a trained police officer. It was found that although most had voluntarily run away from homes where abuse and neglect occurred, many had been preyed upon by adults and sexually exploited. It is not known what happens to the proportion of children who do not return.
I was surprised and saddened by these figures. Why does the fact 750 children go unaccounted for every year in Wales alone continue to occur under the public’s radar? And it got me thinking about what it might be like for the families left behind, not knowing where their loved ones are or what happened to them.
Before I became a full-time author I worked several roles within the field of forensic mental health, both in a clinical and psycho-therapeutic capacity. One of the research subjects during my psychology training involved false and recovered memories, where I came across the fascinating yet lesser known phenomenon of False Abduction Syndrome, whereby an individual falsely believes they have been abducted by aliens. FAS is characterised by several symptoms, which include: feelings of déjà vu, sleep paralysis, insomnia, lucid dreaming, childhood amnesia, and the misremembering of factual life events. In its extreme form the disorder can become life-limiting. Evidence suggests the condition is most often present in individuals who have re-experienced a traumatic event such as repeated Childhood Sexual Abuse, and/or whom have been diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Interpreting the narrative self-analysis of abductees via case vignettes abnormal and parapsychologists have learned that many have at some time undergone hypnosis to uncover memory loss or testified during psychological therapy that their experience of abduction by an extra-terrestrial bears a striking similarity to their experience of being visited at night by their abuser. This formed the premise of Buried Sins.
Our memories of traumatic episodes are often vague because during the event our brain subconsciously processes our experience on a scene-by-scene basis while attempting to consciously attend to the threat that we perceive. When activated during a stressful situation such as the threat of sexual violence, the parts of our brain which urge us to fight, flee from, or freeze against our opponent to survive overrides the environmental material we process. It is an unconscious (automatic) process, which in its extreme form can cause sufferers debilitating symptoms of dissociation when confronted with triggering material (sensory information associated with the trauma) causing sensory overload to occur. This is where memories come in the form of flashbacks or nightmares. To help us cope with the trauma our brains may allow us to remember small snippets of information we were not aware we subconsciously processed during the traumatic event, weeks, months, or even years later. When sensory knowledge (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) is too difficult to contend with our brains remap themselves, a bit like a car’s Engine Control Unit, by re-evaluating and re-assigning the traumatic material which is how it is possible to recall events that did not happen.
The idea for Buried Sins like most of my novels began with a problem I was knowledgeable about: how would FAS manifest itself in an individual? And led me to question how I could apply the disorder in a realistic way to a character? And under what circumstances? I wanted to touch upon the affects CSA has on an individual’s close relationships and mental health, especially when the person responsible for abusing them is deceased. I also needed a trigger for the recovered memories of CSA to arise. The discovery of human remains gave me a thread to tie to my research into missing children, which I wanted to explore through the eyes of the missing’s family.
Although the themes within this title are rather dark, I wanted to write about them with authenticity and sensitivity in respect to those who have sadly been betrayed by the people who are supposed to protect them from such atrocities. I endeavoured to retain emotional realism while exploring and describing the topics within Buried Sins without including any gratuitous violence. I am a pedant when it comes to procedural accuracy and tried to ensure that while the novel is compelling to read, the plot remained factual, and so I returned to my undergraduate essays for background and conducted further research into FAS. I also spoke to several professionals, including a forensic anthropologist, an odontologist, a forensic pathologist, and a forensic scientist as well as a working detective.
Detective Inspector Locke appeared in What I Never Told You working alongside DI Silver on a case involving sexual offences, so I knew her story, and felt she fit the role of lead investigator in Buried Sins perfectly, although it’s more of a bit-part. I find having several projects on-the-go at once keeps me creatively motivated so during the structural edits I was plotting my next Welsh-based crime thriller. As I began to plan scenes DI Locke began interrupting the characters dialogue. The more I ignored her the louder her voice grew, yet when I listened she quietened. I realised I had to give her a more active role so she became the leading lady. I didn’t plan to write a UK series, but once I’d finished writing what is soon to become the first (published in 2020) I wrote a second and plotted a third book I which DI Locke is the protagonist. Carys appeared to me ready formed. Part of her recent upheaval relates to my own move across the channel from Bristol. Although that’s where our similarities end. The other characters within the novel developed over the course of writing the first draft. I didn’t know the ending until I wrote it. Carys’ father, Bryn’s, antagonistic traits were easy to portray. He is the archetypal villain. His wife, Carys’ mother, Rhiannon, elusive. Gwenda, unreliable.
Having already written about missing persons, children in care, serial killers, and CSA I didn’t want to rehash the “girl goes missing, her remains are discovered, she was murdered by a man known to her, the strong-willed, flawed, personally aggrieved detective finds her killer” idea so I chose instead to focus on the investigation through the eyes of those close to the accused rather than the victim. I hope I’ve done them justice.
If you would like to read more information about the themes in this title, please see:
Buried Sins is available from Amazon.
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