Before my debut novel, a thriller entitled Torn, was published late last year, I had always been fascinated by how authors use settings in books almost as an additional character and how they explore themes in their writing. As a reader, I was captivated by the Nordic Noir wave of writers: dark, moody settings with equally dark and moody characters, often with the odd social issue thrown into the mix for good measure. This style has undoubtedly influenced my own writing.
So, what inspired me to write Torn? When a few years ago news reports started coming through about the plight of immigrants fleeing from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to the shores of Sicily, I was both appalled and enthralled in almost equal measure. Appalled by the tortuous conditions, the high number of fatalities, and the traffickers being allowed to operate with apparent impunity for so long. Enthralled because it gave me the nub of an idea and a background for my next writing project.
The central theme for Torn is, as the title suggests, the dilemma faced by the protagonist, Hanna, and her conflicting emotions between wanting revenge and seeking justice for a wrong she discovers that is being inflicted on countless others, and the need to protect her daughter at all costs. Should she aim for both, or would that be out of the question?
In Hanna, I set out to create a protagonist who finds herself unwittingly involved in the world of human trafficking, although not directly. I have always been fascinated by the aptitude of certain individuals to cope with adversity: people who often surprise themselves by manifesting inner strengths they didn’t know they had, especially if someone they love is in mortal danger. Hanna, my protagonist, is one of these people.
Her early life in Sicily is carefree and idyllic until she finds out the truth about her charismatic husband, Luciano. Faced with this betrayal and fearing for her, and her daughter’s safety, she turns to her best friend for support. But what will Hanna do with the information she has discovered about her husband?
So, betrayal, the desire for retribution/revenge, courage, and the importance of strong emotional bonds are all themes that play out throughout Torn. A dash of intrigue and conspiracy keep the reader, like Hanna, guessing as to who and what can be trusted.
As for setting, the main location for my novel was an easy choice: it had to be Sicily, a setting I was familiar with from having worked there. This background proved useful as I was able to remodel some of my own experiences for certain scenes. I have tried to reflect some of the island’s beauty and rich history and culture, as well as featuring its fictitious dark side. In Torn, there is a stark contrast between Hanna’s early carefree life in Sicily and what follows, when she discovers the dark reality of her existence and the murky underbelly of the island.
The secondary location is North Wales, deliberately chosen to contrast with Sicily, with a rugged beauty and interesting history all of its own. The storyline is matched in both settings by the weather. Torn opens with a dramatic storm scene as Hanna and her daughter Eva try to flee mainland Italy. This is echoed in a later chapter when Hanna travels up into the Sicilian mountains in pursuit of her missing daughter.
Will her determination and courage be enough to vanquish her enemies, or has she taken on too much? Can one individual confront organised crime and win? And will she make Luciano pay for his actions? Will her desire for revenge win out, or are there other factors at play?
Intrigued, and want to know more? You will have to read Torn to find out more – it is available at mybook.to/darkstroketorn.
Blurb for Torn
Like any mother, Hanna would do anything to protect her small daughter, Eva.
When she discovers that her husband, Luciano, is not all he seems and their blissful life on the island of Sicily is threatened, she wastes no time in seeking refuge abroad. But just as they are settling into their new life in North Wales, Eva disappears.
In a race against time, Hanna is forced to return to Sicily and face the dark world of organised crime in a bid to secure her daughter’s safe return. She must also confront the truth about Luciano’s business dealings and their horrific consequences.
But will Hanna succeed in getting Eva back and bring Luciano to justice?
Or are the stakes just too high?
Karen Moore is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.
She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.
Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales. She is currently working on the sequel.
Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing. She has lived in Italy and France and is now based in Cheshire, England.