Dark psychological thriller for Chichester author Isabel Ashdown

Chichester author Isabel Ashdown is in print with a compelling, dark and twisty psychological thriller that asks the question: if you can't trust your sister, then who can you trust?

Isabel Ashdown
Isabel Ashdown

Isabel will launch the paperback version of Little Sister at a special event in Waterstones Chichester on Wednesday, July 26 at 6pm.

Her first book with publishers Orion, it is also a new direction for Isabel… or perhaps a move sideways.

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“I think my other books were starting to edge in the direction of psychological thriller. They were moving that way without being entirely in that category, but I have been saying to my agent for a while that that’s the kind of book I want to write. I came up with the proposal and Orion bought the pitch – the story of two sisters reunited after many years apart.

“One sister comes back into the other sister’s life, and the younger sister takes care of the older sister’s baby while the other one goes to work. The story opens with the baby disappearing…

“The story is really about the mystery of what has happened to the baby girl, but it also goes back to the sisters’ story and what has happened for them to separate.

“I think I have always been interested in the idea of family separation. Looking back, all my books have been interested in family to begin with. What also interests me is the idea that with adoption, there is always that drive to find out where you came from, to make sense of who you are. When I first had communication with Orion about the idea of writing for them, I said I wanted to write a psychological thriller but to write it in the context of family. I am not interested in writing about serial killers. I wanted that family context because we can all relate to family. Even if you are given away at birth, you have still got family out there. The younger sister has been away from the family for a long time, but very much wants to come back to the family.”

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart...

“When I am writing, very often I know the big drama that kick-starts the book and then the ending. The hard part is working out what happens in the middle and how you go from the one to the other. It can be like walking through treacle, and then suddenly you get these Eureka moments and you start to understand that journey between the two much better.

“Like many of us, I’ve spent much of my life being different things to different people – sister, daughter, mother, partner, friend – and I’m endlessly fascinated by the complexities of family relationships and the weight of their power. We like to think we are most ourselves with family, but who’s to say which version of us is the best version, the truest version, the most reliable version even? As a writer, I’m often drawn to the shadows of family histories – my own included – and find myself wanting to explore the ways in which the memories and consequences of shared events can differ so wildly from person to person. That, in part, is what inspired Little Sister, the idea of inconsistent memory – of distorted memory – ultimately the idea of unreliable truths.”

For Isabel’s Chichester event, tickets are free but have to be booked in store.

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