A lot of things broke in 2020. Life as most of us knew it came to a screeching halt, and everything changed. Everything. All the little things I’d taken for granted – nipping to shops with fully stocked shelves, walking past people in the street without dodging into the road to avoid them, going out for dinner or a day trip beyond our front door – were suddenly gone. Then there were the big things I’d never had to think about before. How long would it be until I could see my family again? If I got ill, how ill would I get? Would I give it to my wife? Would I lose someone I love?
As a paramedic, being at work was scary as hell and weirdly comforting in equal measure. Unlike millions of people, I could still do my job and keep to a routine, no matter how odd that routine had become. Neither I nor my colleagues had ever been through anything like this, and the sheer madness of those first few weeks, where PPE was in short supply, the guidance was ever-changing, and no one understood what the hell we were dealing with, made a traditionally tight-knit workforce even tighter. I did get ill, but I slowly got better, my wife somehow stayed well, and life settled down into this strange new normal.
For a while my writing also ground to a halt, with the story I’d been working on stalling through no fault of its own at around 20,000 words. Try as I might, I couldn’t put my finger on the problem, but I was distracted and struggling to find a rhythm, and I reluctantly conceded that – for the foreseeable future, at least – this one wasn’t going to happen. Strangely, I did still want to write, and a new idea wheedled its way into my brain, a simple big-bang-style concept – a doctor kidnapped by an injured woman – that tempted me with its potential and instantly engaged my desire for distraction and entertainment.
That simple concept became Unbreakable, a thriller/police procedural which is my first book in a little over two years. Reading it, you might spot a few of 2020’s overriding themes. There’s plenty of heartbreak and loss and loneliness in there, but there’s also the joy of finding love and support when you’re at your lowest ebb, and the strength brought about by unexpected friendships. It was tough for me to write in places, and some of those places may be tough for you to read, but my heroines – Elin, Grace, and Safia – were strong enough to carry me through a tumultuous year, and I very much hope you’ll get a kick out of meeting them.
Unbreakable will be released October 1st via the Bold Strokes Books website, and October 12th everywhere else. An audio version will be hopefully be out hot on the heels of the print release.