Patient 187 – Tessa Whitham

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When Investigative Reporter John Matthews is anonymously sent a seemingly wrapped-up case involving a young couple who appear to be the victims of a murder-suicide, John soon realises all is not as it seems.

Working together with his apprentice, Jim and old friend, Detective Inspector Mark Nielson, John’s investigation leads to some unsettling revelations. Forged witness statements, fabricated coroners’ reports but most disturbingly, a child removed from the scene of the crime and hidden away from public view.

All roads lead John to Blackstone Psychiatric Facility and a seat opposite Patient 187. This case will make him question his alliances, his friends and his own morality.

Q&A with the author

What inspired me to write this book?
I was inspired by 90’s TV thrillers, a genre that I’m a fan of. I imagined a journalist discovering a cold case and it went from there. The story was always a man who has been disgraced in some way and he’s lost his family and his home and so the plot would involve him putting whatever reputation he has left on the line to do something good and at the end, everything would be fine. I took that plot line and changed it to suit my purposes so the ending may be a surprise.

What did I learn from writing the book?
I learned practical things through various tests and edits such as story progression and character development which I knew a bit about from reviewing films. I have immersed myself in books, TV and movies over the years and I know what I like so I knew how a good story unfolds. I suppose I had a head start when it came to writing my own but it wasn’t without its challenges. I didn’t read any books about creative writing, I didn’t do ‘English Literature’ at school but I like to learn something by actually doing it and I learned a lot which has given me great confidence when it comes to writing my next book.

Which character was the most challenging to create and why?
The most challenging character to create had to be Jessica because (without giving too much of the plot away), I had to make her vulnerable and sympathetic but also menacing at the same time so she looks like she’s capable of the things she’s being accused of. The attitudes of the characters towards Jessica have to change as the plot progresses but her actions towards the start have to remain consistent and fit in the suspicions of the characters as they learn more about her. If that makes sense.

An interesting fun fact?
I have difficulty in giving the characters names and I don’t know why. I have no problem in any other aspect of writing except naming characters and so as a result, some of the characters in this book are named after members of my family or other people who I’m a fan of. Whilst ‘John’ might seem like a fairly generic name to give a character, my Grandad was called John and my other Grandad was called Eric so that’s where ‘Erica’ came from. I named John’s wife ‘Andrea’ because my brother is called Andrew and Detective Nielson comes from the actor and comedian, Leslie Nielson who I was a big fan of so I thought I’d pay tribute to him and his most famous character, Frank Drebin who was a police officer and his rank kept changing over time. One last time, ‘Jessica’ was originally called ‘Jessie’ and I named her after Aaron Paul’s character in ‘Breaking Bad’ because I was watching that show when I first started thinking up ideas for the book and I thought it was a good name.

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