All the way from Switzerland, please welcome Scottish author Linda Hubers, who will describe her inspiration for her newest psychological suspense novel, Ward Zero:
A couple of years ago, I was home alone one Tuesday evening, watching a consumer programme on Swiss TV. It’s one of the kind that uncovers scams as well as testing various foodstuffs and shampoos etc, so it’s always interesting, and this particular week I found myself glued to the sofa.
The programme showed an old lady who’d been tricked out of her savings. How had this happened? Well, she’d answered the phone one day, and found a man on the line, saying he was an old friend of her husband. He chatted on in a way that convinced the lady he really had known her family – she was a widow now, and lonely, like many older people, so she was happy to talk to a friendly voice on the phone for a while.
For a few minutes, conversation was general, but then came the sob story. He had run out of money and wouldn’t get his wages until the following week, and he had to pay something urgently. Could she help?
Of course she could. She went to the bank, withdrew most of her meagre savings, and handed them over. By the time her family became aware of what had happened, the money was long gone.
Tragic as this was, it wasn’t a single occurrence. More and more people started to come forward, saying their elderly relative had been swindled in a similar way, and soon the scam was dubbed ‘der Enkeltrick’ in Switzerland – the Grandchild Trick. (Nowadays, of course, banks are watching out for it, and if an older person suddenly withdraws half their savings in cash, the bank will jump in and ask questions.)
My mind was buzzing when the programme finished that night. What kind of person would perpetrate such a cruel trick? And how on earth did the conmen manage to convince the old people they were talking to long-lost family contacts? Where did these criminals find their victims? And what if…?
When you get to ‘what if…?’, you have the beginnings of a story. I sat down at my computer and started to write Ward Zero.
I set the book in a hospital, because where else are people so vulnerable, and willing to trust strangers? And having worked in various National Health hospitals in the UK, I knew my way around. I knew the services provided and the workings of a ward, though I have to say I had to read up on modern post-operative routines – knee replacement surgery has changed in the past couple of decades!
In my book, Sarah arrives back in England after working abroad for a couple of years, and finds her foster mum, Mim, hospitalised after knee surgery. Over the course of the next few visits, Sarah becomes embroiled in a cruel scam. Someone at Brockburn General isn’t what he says he is, and before long, Sarah is fighting for her life…
Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?
On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.
If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.
Linda’s books are psychological suspense novels, and the ideas for them come from daily life. The Paradise Trees and The Cold Cold Sea were traditionally published in 2013/2014 before she self-published The Attic Room in 2015 and Chosen Child in early 2016.
Ward Zero, her fifth book, was inspired by a consumer programme on Swiss TV.
Universal Amazon link for Ward Zero: getBook.at/WardZero