I have recently published me second book, Fateful Decisons.
I got the idea for the book visiting a friend in Waterford. She had a hairdressing appointment and at the last minute her daughter asked her to mind her grandchild. We took the five month old baby to the hairdressers and as the salon was small, left the empty buggy outside. As I held the baby in the reception area while my friend had her hair done, I thought what if I hadn’t been visiting and my friend had left the baby in the buggy outside…..
As I was writing the book, I thought is it believable that a parent would leave a child in a car around the corner from a hairdressers? But when I researched actual cases I found that some parents behave much more irresponsibly. For example the French case mentioned in Chapter 34 in which a woman left four children aged between 2 and 12 alone for a weekend while she attended an evangelical prayer meeting is hardly believable but it was reported in a local paper. A friend who helped me proof the book assumed that the cases mentioned in the book by internet detective Molly were works of fiction like my characters – which is why the author’s note in the book makes it clear they are real cases.
At the time of going to press there had been developments in several of the real life cases of missing children.
The fathers of Bianca Jones and of Ruth and Jose Breton have now been convicted of their murders despite in Bianca’s case, her body not being found. The mother and stepfather of Kiesha Abrahams and the parents of Marina Sabatier were convicted of their children’s murders in July 2013 and June 2012 respectively. Hailey Dunn’s body was found in March 2013 but nobody has been charged. Jhessye Shockley’s body has not been found but her mother Jerice Hunter is currently awaiting trial for her murder and for child abuse.
Scotland Yard, following a review of the Madeleine McCann case, said in July 2013 that there are 38 ‘persons of interest’ to them and that they are working with the Portuguese authorities. This baffling case has led to the establishment of several websites discussing the mystery; one of them: http://mccannfiles.com contains a myriad of published material including the Portuguese police files and my own research ‘A review of the background to setting up the limited company Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned and a forensic examination of the company accounts.’ The website http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk will take you straight to the Portuguese police files most of which were released in August 2008.
Readers may be interested to visit discussion sites such as The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann http://jillhavern.forumotion.net/ and Missing Madeleine http://missingmadeleine.forumotion.net/. These websites sometimes contain tetchy exchanges when members disagree. Occasionally a member flounces off after a disagreement despite intervention from a forum moderator.
The official Madeleine McCann website http://findmadeleine.com/ may also be of interest, and Dr Kate McCann’s bookmadeleine gives a fascinating insight into the case.
The Missing Children Forum is of course fictional though it has been based in layout and headings on existing forums like the ones mentioned above. Forum members may post on one discussion thread only as Molly does, or on many. Molly was of course on the Forum every day while she was recovering from her accident but did not post unless she felt she could move the debate on. Her post numbers are consecutive while those for some other members are not as it is assumed they were also contributing to other threads.
Readers may also feel that it is unlikely that characters in the book would so easily accept requests to be a Facebook friend or a LinkedIn contact from someone they did not know. My own experience tells me otherwise. For example after appearing on Liveline talking about politicians’ expenses I received about 12 requests to be a Facebook friend from people who had heard the broadcast, and after publishing my research on www.mccannfiles.com I received a similar number of ‘friend’ requests and from a number of countries.
By way of experiment about Facebook members’ security concerns I picked a name at random, and googled it, preceded by Facebook. Of the first ten accounts in that name, six (60%) were completely open and the four that were ‘closed’ still gave limited access to pictures of family and friends plus some information about the holders. Not a scientific survey admittedly but I found a similar situation when I googled the name of one of the characters in the book.
In real life, as well as in fiction, it seems that people can be as careless about their own personal safety as some are in respect of their children's!