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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: The Accusation by Zosia Wand @zosiawand @aria_fiction @hoz_books

The Accusation
by Zosia Wand

Spotlighting this suspenseful mystery!  Come read about the book, the author, read her guest post about "What is a Family?" and continue to read the prologue! Enjoy, readers!

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publish Date:  June 1, 2018
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Who would you choose if you had to - your daughter or your husband?

Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the 'settling in' period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.

But then Eve's mother, Joan, comes to stay. Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn't right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?

Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve's family to pieces...

*picture credit to Mark Harrison

Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. Her first novel, Trust Me, was published by Head of Zeus in 2017.




What Is A Family?

I am often asked how I come up with my ideas.  The truth is that a novel or a play are usually two or three ideas that come together.  A situation I want to explore, a character that intrigues me and something I want to say.  So my first novel, Trust Me, started with three ideas.  Firstly, a character in a difficult situation: a young, not-quite-step-mother to a teenage boy.  Secondly, grooming, and how society tends to assume teenage boys are less vulnerable than teenage girls.  Thirdly, the juxtaposition of a dark story against the beautiful backdrop of the Lake District.  My new novel, The Accusation takes that same beautiful setting for a dark story, follows the adoption process as Eve and Neil adopt four year old Milly and explores the theme of motherhood.  What assumptions do we make about mothers and how they should be?  At what point does a mother’s love become obsessive, even toxic?

I am interested in complicated family dynamics and the way characters create relationships in order to survive and support one another.  The traditional nuclear family: Mum, Dad and two children, is no longer the norm in Britain.  Divorce is common and remarriages, gay marriages and some very interesting and successful alternative arrangements exist all around us.  This is beginning to be reflected in novels, films and television, but it’s taken a while, and we are only just scratching the surface.  My stage play, Quicksand, featured a family of three.  Two women and a teenage boy they had brought up together.  They were not a gay couple, but two Polish migrants.  Renata was the breadwinner and business woman, and Ula, to all intents and purposes, was her ‘wife’.  She took care of Renata’s son and managed the house.  Her undefined role as housekeeper and unacknowledged mother to Leo, form the heart of the story.  Sally Wainwright’s hugely successful television series, Happy Valley, featured a similar family set up, with Sarah Lancashire’s grandchild, the son of the psychopath who raped her daughter, being brought up by his grandmother and her sister.  That family set up is unusual and not without its difficulties, but all the warmer and richer for that.  My next novel, The Treehouse, will focus on two minor characters from The Accusation, Eve’s next door neighbour, India and her ‘mother’ Kath.  Kath is not, as Eve assumes, India’s mother.  Kath’s daughter, Julie, lives in London. India is Julie’s best friend and almost-sister, Kath’s unofficial foster daughter.  Almost daughter and almost sister.  The ‘almost’ is the heart of the story.  India stayed in Tarnside while Julie moved away and Kath finds it easier to be with India than she does Julie.  So what happens when Julie moves back?

It’s these undefined, unacknowledged relationships that interest me, because they are often the most unexpected and generous, and also the most vulnerable.  There is no precedent to follow, no previous experience.  When these relationships are put under pressure from an external source, they are forced to define themselves and sometimes, fight to survive.  It’s the gap between the familiar, what we understand to be the norm, and what has been forged from necessity provides me with a rich seam for stories.  I like, what I call, salvaged families.  Individuals who come together, often as a result of painful event, to create a unit of support.  It’s not just mothers who do the mothering in our society.  I send several cards out on Mother’s Day every year for this very reason.  There are a number of individuals I am compelled to thank for providing me with the love, support and advice I have needed in this life.  Aunts, neighbours, older, wiser friends.  The person who really mothered me was not a blood relative and someone I spent just two months of the year with, but when I shower my children with kisses and prepare their food and really love them, it’s her I remember.  Ciocia (Aunty) Marysia.  The lifelong friend and companion of my grandfather’s spinster sister, Zosia, in Poland.  I am named after them and was loved by them both, but it was Marysia who did the mothering.  She was an orphan, brought up by nuns and had no mother of her own, but her love bridged the physical distance that divided us for most of the year and overcame the difficulties of Soviet rationing, censorship and martial law to shower me with treats.  She was my safe haven and every story I tell is a tribute to the family she created simply through love.


I know something about fear. I know it can be red and urgent, the roar of a dragon, flames in your face. We all recognise that. You will know it as something brief and fierce, leaving smoke and ashes, sometimes scalded flesh. This fear is different. My fear is not hot and fiery, but grey and quiet, lingering in the shadows. It’s a chill breath on my neck, a whispered warning in my ear. I have no idea why it follows me. I have never experienced real danger, never suffered an act of extreme violence, but I live with a sense of something lurking. If I do the right thing, if I follow the rules and keep everyone happy, all will be well, but if I get it wrong, something terrible will pounce. I’ve learned to be one step ahead, becoming stealthy, slipping out of sight, dodging the icy drips and sidestepping the puddles. Always alert.

I sense it before the phone rings. Feel its cold grip on my hand as I try to accept the call. Neil’s name on the screen. My fingers won’t move. I have no reason to think this is anything other than the call I was expecting, to tell me that lunch is ready, that he and Milly are waiting for me. But I know before I tap the screen, before I hear the breathless panic in his voice, I know.


‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s Milly.’

A bitter cold pressing into my back, seeping through my flesh and between the bones beneath. Please, not this.

‘She’s gone.’

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great thriller. I may have to add it to my TBR.