Published by Macmillan
Available in ebook and paperback (20 September 2018)
The eagle eyed amongst you may have seen that my turn on the tour was last Saturday however technology glitches meant that the guest post wasn’t received in time and I substituted with a spotlight post.
However, all is now well and I’m delighted to feature Michelle’s original guest post that she kindly took the time to write.
The inspiration behind False Witness
It was a conversation with my friend Anna* that planted the idea for False Witness. We were walking down a street in our north London neighbourhood, where Anna also grew up, when suddenly she stopped in her tracks and her face drained of blood. I asked her what was wrong and she nodded at a woman walking on the other side of the street. ‘See her? She used to bully me at secondary school. She was vile to me every day for six years.’ The woman passed by without so much as a glance in our direction, but Anna was shaking and it was shocking to see how much impact her bully still had on her after all these years.
It got me thinking about my own experience of being picked on at junior school, where one particular girl would profess to be my best friend one week, then turn against me the next and persuade the entire class not to talk to me. I hadn’t thought I’d carried the effects of being cast out like that into adulthood, but on reflection I can it’s made me a people pleaser who doesn’t like to upset the apple cart.
Historic bullying, I decided, would make a strong theme for my next novel featuring Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville, the third in the series. I did some research by going on anti-bullying forums and it became clear those who were bullied as children fell into two camps as adults: half lived in fear of running into their bully again, the rest wished they had the opportunity to confront them about their behaviour.
But I didn’t want False Witness to be an adult-gets-revenge-on-school-bully plot. For one thing, it would be unfair to suggest all victims of historic building are hell-bent on hurting the person who hurt them. Many are genuinely traumatised at the thought of running into their bully, as my friend Anna was. So I decided to spin the idea on its head.
False Witness starts with two children being involved in an incident in the grounds of their primary school. Julia is the mother of one of them, Poppy, and she is horrified to discover the other child involved – Benji – is the son of her childhood nemesis, Imogen. Not only does Julia have to face up to Poppy being accused of hurting Benji, but she’s also expected to feel sympathy for his mother, the person who made her life hell at school. This triggers a torrent of emotions and repressed memories in Julia and the novel then goes on to explore the impact historic bullying can have on a person.
I hope those affected by historic bullying feel I’ve handled the subject sensitively. I did ask my friend Anna what she would do in Julia’s situation, to test whether the plot would stand up. ‘What would you do if your daughter was accused of bullying the child of the person who bullied you?’ I asked her. Anna’s response was typical to what I researched: she said her instinctive, adult response would of course be to reprimand her child and tell them to stop. ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right,’ she said. But, she admitted, she would also secretly hope her that bully, the other parent, would recognise it for the karma it was.
| About the Book |
7.15am: Two children are seen on top of a wall in a school.
Shortly later one of them lies fatally injured at the bottom.
Did the boy fall or was he pushed?
As a family liaison offer, DC Maggie Neville has seen parents crumble under the weight of their child’s death. Imogen Tyler is no different. Her son’s fall was witnessed by the school caretaker, a pupil is under suspicion, and Imogen is paralysed by grief and questions.
For Maggie, finding the truth is paramount if she is to help the mother. But as she investigates, further doubts emerge and the truth suddenly seems far from certain. Could the witness be mistaken about what happened, and if he is, then who is responsible? And how far will they go to cover up the boy’s death?
False Witness by Michelle Davies is the gripping third novel in the critically acclaimed Maggie Neville series, following Gone Astray and Wrong Place.
Other bloggers have been reviewing False Witness for the tour – do check out their reviews
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invitation and to Grace of Pan Mac.
I’ve read the first book in the Maggie Neville series Gone Astray (you can read my review here) which I very much enjoyed and have subsequently bought books 2 and 3 which I shall probably now binge read in order to catch up.
| About the Author |
Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex in 1972, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in north London.
Her debut crime novel, Gone Astray, was published in Hardback in March 2016 and features Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville as its central police character. The paperback version is due for publication on 20th October 2016. Gone Astray was part of a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan and the follow-up, Wrong Place, also featuring DC Neville, is due for release on 27th February 2017.
When she’s not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women’s magazines including Marie Claire, Essentials, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her home-town newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.