The inspiration behind the concept was pretty much two-fold:
1) I wanted to set a thriller and dump bodies in places where I played as a child.
2) I came up with an idea for a story one day, and I wanted to see it out there. Since no one else was going to write it for me, if I was going to see it completed I’d have to do it myself.
Simply put, I liked the idea of a killer taking the daughter of someone as skilled and almost as ruthless as he was. Someone who would stop at nothing to get his little girl back, no matter how many resources the police threw at it.
Of course, Katie—the latest of three to be taken at the start of the story—isn’t a ‘little girl’; she’s a strong, resourceful young woman. Not strong enough to fight back effectively, but she is certainly her father’s daughter.
Richard Hague was my main character for such a long time when I was developing the story. But his skills and actions became so dark and verging on the sociopathic, that I either had to change him or change the story. He made Liam Neeson in Taken look rather gentle.
One of the characters I gave him to work against was a female police officer. Her role, originally, was to be seduced by Richard so he could get information on the investigation, but I gave myself a slap as I realised that made pretty much every woman in the story a victim of some sort.
So I beefed up the female police officer’s role. I took inspiration from a real person so I could breathe more life into her, a real person who really is very ditzy on the surface but incredibly good at her job at the same time.
Alicia Friend just grew and grew, and soon she was more interesting than a desperate father.
Thanks to that person who became my Alicia, I was able to set Richard free, make him a secondary antagonist of sorts, whilst keeping his own problems stacking up.
There’s a writing tip that people dish out on a regular basis to up and coming writers: make sure your villain believes he is the protagonist of his own story. Since Richard started out as a protagonist in his own right, that makes the transition organic, and—hopefully—engaging.
Alicia very much drives this story now, but my original double inspiration—the geography of my home town of Leeds, and the story I wanted to see out there—carried me past the finish line, and delivered me here.