Picture of a book and a teapot

How does your integrity measure up?

My latest book An Unwanted Inheritance  is published worldwide tomorrow.

The story is about the Frost family, close knit and loving, who discover a large quantity of money stashed under their father's bed when he dies unexpectedly. No one knows where the money has come from or why it is there but everyone knows exactly what they should do with it. The difficulty is that none of them agree about what that should be, and they all have secret motivations that they'd rather not share with their siblings.

So this is what the story is about - but what about the book?

Well, as the author I would say that the book is actually about honesty and integrity and what they look like to you.

When I wrote An Unwanted Inheritance, the UK was in the throes of restrictions on personal movement brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. There were varying degrees of restriction depending on where you lived and how severe the infection rate there was. I live in a small rural town, surrounded on all sides by green countryside. Infection levels were, in the main, manageable. However, the infection rates in the metropolitan area into which my town falls were very high and as a result we had a more severe level of lockdown imposed on us than many other places. Yet less than a mile up the road they had no such restrictions.

We were asked by the government to 'stay local' to prevent the spread of the virus but no parameters were set as to what this meant. And so I watched with interest as people interpreted the rules. Some thought local was where you could walk to. Others thought that a short car journey was acceptable. If your family lived twenty miles away was that still local? What about jumping borders into places with less onerous restrictions? In my case that was just up the road but was that still local if it broke the spirit of the lockdown?

I found this fascinating and I watched as people argued to justify their own interpretation of the rules even when no one had challenged them. Integrity, it seemed, did not mean the same to everyone. I was reminded of the parts of Othello which focus on reputation and the way Iago manipulates the truth to suit his own needs. And as I wrote the story of the Frost family, I realised that deciding upon the right thing to do is rarely black and white. Even when the answer appears simple.  everyone has something personal that makes that decision harder to make than you might imagine.

I hope you enjoy the book and it makes you think about where your integrity sits on a scale.  I'd also love to hear what you would have done if you had faced the same dilemma as the Frosts. Would you take the money or would you hand it in? I know what I'd have done.

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I look forward to seeing you.