We’re delighted to welcome author Karen Perry to share a piece on the inspiration for her latest novel, the riveting new psychological thriller ‘Stranger’.
When I was fifteen years old, I was paired with a French girl from Lyons as part of a school exchange programme. Carole was quirky, funny and a little mischievous – we got on like a house on fire. Others in my class were not as lucky, and there were various accounts of blazing rows and tearful phone-calls home.
I had largely forgotten the experience, but then in 2019 I spent six months in France on a sabbatical with my husband and our two young daughters. We rented a house in a tiny village called Saint-Pierre-de-Maillé deep in rural western France. Living in a strange place among people I didn’t know brought a sense of adventure and discovery. It triggered old memories from my French exchange. Details of that forgotten summer began trickling back, remembering what it felt like to be fifteen – longing to fit in, the intensity of emotions, and also just wanting to have fun.
As a parent now I wonder how it must have felt for my parents letting me go to a different country to stay with people they had never met – what a leap of faith that must have been! The more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was fertile ground for a crime novel. And so the idea for Stranger was born. It tells the tale of Beth Holland who is paired with French girl Corinne Catto for a school exchange programme. But how much do the Hollands know Corinne, and can they trust her? Because Beth’s family have lots of secrets. And once they come out, there’s no going back.