I am frequently asked where the inspiration for one of my books came from. The answer is that it is very difficult to pin down that unattainable breath of something, that whispered thought that grabs you and begins to expand within you like a flower opening. A character creeps out from a dusty corner of the brain. She or he seems interesting, in need of conversation, companions, and you begin to ask yourself who are they and what are they seeking?
I am regularly inspired by locations. A place will begin to seep into me and from there I fill it with people, characters, and I will silently observe them begin to interact.
It’s a great fun process, and it is never the same. Each book has its own birth process.
THE LOST GIRL, is a little bit different. It is the first one, I think, that has been inspired by real events. Although it is set between two French locations and several time zones, at its heart it is a contemporary novel that begins on the night of Friday 13th November 2015 in Paris.
On that evening I was at our Olive Farm down in the south of France. I turned on the news. My mother was standing at my side. To my horror, the newscasters were reporting incidents in the east of Paris, deadly shootings at a restaurant. This was the first of six attacks that took place that night, all within the eastern quarters of Paris.
Over 100 people were murdered, many of them youngsters attending a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall not far from the Bastille.
While watching the events unfold, I was reminded of that first monstrous attack at the very beginning of that same year of 2015.
7th January 2015. My husband, Michel, was in Paris when the Charlie Hebdo attacks took place. He was working at his small film studios, which in those days was one street away from the Hebdo offices. Naturally, I was terrified when I heard the news before I knew the precise location. Once all was revealed, I learned from Michel that he had worked with one of the illustrators who was murdered that afternoon. THE LOST GIRL was in gestation, I see now, even before the night of 13th November.
So, back to that evening of 13th November when I switched on the television. My mother at my side in the living room. Together we watched the unbelievable unfolding. I was weeping. Mummy said to me, talking particularly about the young who were trapped as hostages within the Bataclan where two gunmen were picking off audience members one after another in cold blood, ‘Everyone of them,’ she whispered, ‘is someone’s son or daughter. Mothers are waiting anxiously everywhere to hear the news.’
My story was seeded, although I did not know it that evening. Several days later, I put aside the novel I was at work on and began to write…
…Kurtiz is an Englishwoman, a renowned photographer who has become estranged from her actor husband. Their marriage fell apart when their sixteen-year-old daughter, Lizzie, went missing from their London home four years earlier. Out of the blue, there is a sighting of Lizzie in Paris. Kurtiz’s husband, Oliver, firmly believes his daughter will be at the Bataclan rock concert and he goes there in search of her. Kurtiz is waiting in a nearby bar for news, for a post-concert meeting with them, for the long craved-for reconciliation…
THE LOST GIRL is a love story with plenty of drama. At its heart it is a tale of our time. A story of new beginnings, of second chances, of learning to forgive and to seize the moment and live life to its fullest. It is, I hope, a life-affirming book with a miracle unfolding at its heart.
One reviewer has said: “A mesmerising, haunting, and extraordinarily relevant yet beautifully evocative read. Kurtiz arrives in Paris after a sighting of her missing daughter, as the tale begins to unfurl, humanity at its very best and worst is revealed in several time frames. There is a slight departure in tone from previous novels, however the deep emotion and captivating writing is still reassuringly in evidence for existing fans… ‘THE LOST GIRL’ is a story about relationships, family, and love during heartbreak, doubt and apprehension, yet rather than oppressive, I found an entirely captivating and beautiful read awaited.”
Do take a look at this link. It will also give you an idea how THE LOST GIRL was born.