Inside a prison with C.S. Green, author of THE WHISPER HOUSE

C.S. Green is a bestselling author of psychological thrillers and an award-winning writer of fiction for young people under the name Caroline Green. Written under the name Cass Green, her first novel for adults, The Woman Next Door, was a No.1 ebook bestseller, while the follow-up, In a Cottage in a Wood, was a USA Today bestseller and a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. She is the writer in residence at East Barnet School and teaches courses for City University and Writers and Artists. She lives in London with her family. The Whisper House is the second volume in a new series featuring the UCIT.

When I was offered the chance to do a creative writing workshop in a men’s prison, I felt a mixture of emotions. First and foremost, there was a strong element of curiosity about what it would be like in there. As a crime writer, I had practical motivations – I knew at some point I might need to write a scene set in a prison. I like to research these things properly, and while we see prison life all the time on-screen or in books, it’s not the same as actually going there. Now, I wasn’t quite prepared to get banged up myself in the name of research, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

But there was an element of fear, too, once I got my head around it all.

At first, it hadn’t sounded too bad. I was going to a ‘Category B’ prison, after all. My logic went like this: ‘Category A is where all the murderers and rapists are kept.  The next one down was reserved for… more benign criminals. A little bit of white-collar fraud perhaps?’

That’s not, as it transpires, what category B means at all. Many men there are on remand and may walk free after their trials, but the prison also contains lifers convicted of very serious crimes, including murder and sexual violence. Once I realised this, I got quite anxious about it all. I pictured lockdowns and breakouts, vicious fights with makeshift weapons erupting in front of me and generally feeling unsafe as a woman in such a tense and claustrophobic male environment.

All I can say is: how wrong I was.

In fact, after my first visit – to Thameside Prison in South London – I had the biggest smile on my face all the way home. I enjoyed every minute of my time and found it to be a deeply rewarding experience.

I’ve now done several workshops at Thameside and Pentonville Prisons. The inmates I’ve met have been unfailingly respectful and polite, but also a lot of fun to work with. The bottom line is that it’s very boring being in prison and when someone comes along to break up the long hours, they’re usually received with real gratitude. Even the more taciturn inmates were willing to have a go and take part in the activities.

The fact that I was there at all was down to the brilliant librarians, who work so hard with a limited budget and with lots of bureaucratic constraints, to make the library a real haven for the men serving their time under that roof.

As some of these men shared their stories with me, I realised that often we are not talking about ‘bad people’ but people who have made bad choices at times in their lives. And I think that’s worth remembering not only in my job as a crime writer, but as a human being too.

A house with a history. A boy with a grudge. And a detective who will stop at nothing to get to the truth.

Gregory knows something is wrong with his house. His parents don’t believe him, but he can feel it – and he’s frightened.

DC Rose Gifford is called out after neighbours report a series of disturbances at the property, and she can feel it too. She knows Gregory and his family are in danger, and she knows that it will be down to her specialist supernatural crimes team to uncover the truth.

Something terrible happened at number 42 Wyndham Terrace. And it’s Rose’s job to find out what.

A twisty, clever read for fans of Ben Aaranovitch and Jane Casey.

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