ALISON BAILLIE was brought up in Ilkley, Yorkshire by Scottish parents. She studied English at the University of St Andrews, before teaching English in Edinburgh secondary schools and EFL in Finland and Switzerland. Now she spends her time reading, writing, travelling, spending time with her grandchildren and attending crime writing festivals.
Story Behind A Fractured Winter
A Fractured Winter originally grew out of my interest in the way our personalities are formed by our past experiences and, in the book, the happiness of the main character, Olivia, a young Scottish mother leading a seemingly idyllic family life in Switzerland, is threatened when the echoes of the past come back to haunt her.
Although it is by no means autobiographical, the book is based on places I know and some of my life experiences. Fortunately, I do not have the emotional childhood scars Olivia has or go through the traumatic events that take place in the book.
Olivia lives in a small village called Wildenwil, which you will not find on the map of Switzerland, although in my imagination it is situated next to the real town of Zug. Wildenwil is a composite of small towns I’ve known, serving a farming community, with the primary school and shop the centre of village life and the most exciting thing that happens a dance organised by the gym group. Zug, on the other hand, has a large expat community because of its tax system, and in the book the traditional village is being changed by incomers.
The books opens when Sandra, Olivia’s daughter’s best friend, disappears on her way home from school and Olivia gets an anonymous note, which suggests that somebody knows her secret – the reason she had to leave Scotland. These two events threaten her family and her sanity as the book describes the search for Sandra and Olivia being confronted with her past life.
There are also sections of the book set in Scarborough, a seaside town in the north of England, where Marie, a lonely schoolgirl lives with her Scottish parents. I also lived in Scarborough when I was very young, with Scottish parents, and the flat where Marie lives, opposite beautiful Peasholm Park, is based on the one we had. We lived above the pharmacy where my father worked, but the shop is now a betting shop, as it is in the book. However, that is where the similarity ends and I’m happy to say my life and parents were nothing like Marie’s.
There is another section involving Lucy, a student at the university of St Andrews who later becomes a teacher in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Once again, this is a path I followed, although our experiences were very different I’m relieved to say! However, I’ve used actual houses, flats and rooms as the backdrop for imaginary incidents.
Throughout the book, my original idea of showing the way our lives are inextricably formed by our past experiences is woven into settings I know, using the classic idea of ‘what if?’ As I wrote it, the characters became as real to me as the settings and I hope that the result is one that people can identify with and believe in.
A missing girl.
Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.
Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?
What is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?
A story of the shadows of the past, the uncertainties of the present and how you can never really know anybody.
A Fractured Winter is one of those great crime novels that you just have to read a book full of mystery and suspense that takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and thrills. It was packed full of interesting characters that you could believe were actually real people that you know instead of fictional characters in a novel, another thing which makes this a brilliant novel is the way in which the author writes an out the places the character visit and the different settings of Edinburgh and Switzerland, you actually feel as though you were there in the action with the characters as you read along. For new reader of Alison Baillies work then you have picked a great novel to introduce yourself to this great author and lives up to the promotion declaring this is anew crime noir author to look out for. If your like me and you have followed Alison since she brought out the brilliant first novel Sewing the Shadows Together a few years ago then you are still in for a treat and even though the setting has changed from based in Scotland to based in Switzerland with a back story in Edinburgh, the quality of writing is still the same and you can definitely tell that Alison was a English Major and Teacher. I highly recommend that you buy this book and the previous if you haven’t already and I look forward to reading more of her work in due course.
Amazon Author Page
A Fractured Winter Amazon Page