Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Story World: Why 'Visiting Lilly' is Based in Farnham by Toni Allen

Story World: Why Visiting Lilly is Based in Farnham

By Toni Allen

When I started writing Visiting Lilly I had no idea in what town it would be based, merely an idea in my head for the main thrust for the plot. Then, while outlining my first chapter, in my mind’s eye I saw Frankie’s house, and I immediately knew that he lived up near Farnham Park. I live close to Farnham, and I guess that something subliminal crept in and helped flesh out my character.

I was happy with this, the location was perfect. There are some reasonably large Victorian houses up near the park, and for Frankie to own a property like that suited his personality. Farnham Park is near to the town, but quiet. I already knew that for part of my plot line I wanted to include a country feel, and Farnham is in leafy Surrey, not completely rural, but not a bustling city of concrete either.

Having Farnham as the central location gave me the opportunity to include other nearby areas, and use my local knowledge to best advantage. Hence, when I wanted to give the Charteris family a huge property with land, it simply had to be a Queen Anne style house, because Farnham is situated on the border of Hampshire, and Jane Austen’s house is in the village of Chawton, close to Alton. The entire area is littered with spectacular Queen Anne houses, so when it came to writing Lilly’s backstory, it seemed appropriate that her father had a business in Alton.

On introducing my detective, Jake Talbot, I didn’t feel that he was born and bred locally. I wanted him to have been working in a tougher environment than Farnham, and from the way he started to speak, it became obvious that he’d moved down from London, for a quieter life, after family tragedies. London is only forty miles from Farnham, and this short distance to the heart of commerce, meant that I could easily have a character working in The City.

Farnham is surrounded by beautiful countryside, and Frankie’s family live over in Frensham, famous for its two ponds, Frensham Little Pond and Great Pond, which are run by the National Trust. Unfortunately Frankie’s family aren’t interested in the rare visiting bird breeds, or the rare native birds, which include the now endangered nightjar. If Talbot had heard the nightjar, which only flies at dusk and dawn, he would have thought the builders were out late with a jackhammer, because in the eerie forests around Frensham that’s what its call sounds like.

We’re very fortunate in Farnham because many of its old buildings have been preserved, so the town has a lovely old-world feel about it. Many buildings are Georgian and St Andrew's Church is among Surrey’s most important buildings, dating back to the 12th century. This delightfully old-fashioned backdrop, is ideal for Talbot and Frankie, who both have an avid interest in antiques, and for different personal reasons tend to yearn for the past. Visiting Lilly is a thoroughly modern story, with some extremely high-tech electronics at the heart of the mystery, so idyllic Farnham builds a strong contrast between location and the events that unfold.

Visiting Lilly
by Toni Allen



D.I. Jake Talbot is a burnt-out British detective given a second chance to believe in love, friendship and the transcendent essence of the human experience. When he investigates a seemingly innocent visitor to a residential care home for the elderly he uncovers a dangerous family hiding a forbidden romance that mysteriously crosses the boundaries of time. The deceitful family does all they can to prevent Talbot from discovering their secrets surrounding an unsolved murder, family betrayal; at the core of which is a keenly intelligent, though somewhat mentally challenged young man who is fixated on an elderly woman being held captive by her own grandson. Talbot sets out to right the many wrongs done to the blameless, and in turn, rediscovers his own humanity.

Read an excerpt:
Jake makes notes

Chapter 17

Notes, yes, he should make notes, before all of the mad ideas popping into his head were zapped off into outer space. Time machine, bloody hell, he’d be interviewing little green men next, and scanning the airways for flying saucers. Placing his notebook on the table he tapped his pen up and down. Just make marks on the paper, words, anything, don’t think, write.

1) Frankie Hayward did not have a time machine … did he? Okay, so check it out. How? Good bloody question.

He drew heavily on his cigarette and stared down the street at people hurrying about their business. A young woman nearly slipped on the snow and fell. Instinctively he stood, ready to assist. Haste. Now there was a good word to write down. He sat and scribbled.

2) Two people were in no hurry to do anything. Why didn’t Keith’s parents report him missing? Where were they in all of this before they cried ‘murder!’?

3) See if there are any early psychiatric reports on Frankie. Mother said there were, Weissman alluded to them. Perhaps they would come with the files Weissman had promised.

4) How long has Lilly got to live? Stupid question, can’t be answered. Not long.

On better days he would have phoned Yates to run it past him. Suddenly there was only him, no sounding board, no second brain to fit the puzzle together. Closing his eyes, he smiled. So that was Weissman’s game. Now the only confidante he would have was Frankie Hayward himself. Oh, how clever, single him out and throw them together. Shit, was Weissman expecting him to go the same way as Keith? Involuntarily he shivered and hugged his coat tighter around his chest. Images of the headline sprang before his eyes, 'Stressed copper on leave disappears, alien abduction suspected.’

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Toni Allen is a professional tarot reader, astrologer, author and photographer.

I’ve been a professional tarot reader for about 30 years, and an astrologer for about 25. Now, thanks to the internet, I have an International client database. My main website is creaking because I haven’t updated it for so long, but it’s still fully functional and full of lots of interesting information. . A new build is underway, with lots of modern bits and pieces so that you can connect with me via Facebook and easily keep up to date with events that I’m offering readings at.

Amazon author page:

BN Author page:


Toni will be awarding a free e-book of VISITING LILLY and a FREE TAROT CARD reading for one lucky commenter to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow along for more chances to win!

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