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Tale of kidnap revealed in Chichester graduate’s psychological thriller

KIDNAP, motherhood, and the obsessive and destructive madness of jealousy are uncovered in a new psychological thriller by a Chichester author.

The emotive Mother Island, which delves into an intricate family struggle revolving around child abduction, is the latest novel from Bethan Roberts, a graduate of the University’s MA in Creative Writing. The book, which is out now, follows Maggie Wichelo: a lonely young woman who works as a nanny for her glamorous employer, Nula, who also happens to be her cousin.

Dedicated and fiercely protective of two-year-old Samuel, Maggie considers herself an excellent minder, and Nula and her husband have had few complaints about her work. But, one morning, Maggie abducts the toddler, loads him into a hired car, and drives to a remote boathouse on the island where she spent her teenage years: Anglesey - known to the locals as Môn, Mam Cymru, or the Mother of Wales.

For Maggie, everything goes back to the island: a mysterious place where, aged 15, she spent the summer watching her parent’s relationship disintegrate, her own life fall apart, and where she will attempt, in her own way, to put it back together again. Mother Island is a novel which, according to Bethan, sprang from her own life.

“I think I am in most of my novels, one way or another,” she said, “I wanted to write about Anglesey which is where my father is from. When I was writing Mother Island, I had just given birth to my first - and only - child so I didn’t have much time to research, unlike my previous novels. I based the novel on some of my own experiences. Growing up in Abingdon, which is very much middle England, going on holiday to Anglesey felt like venturing to a foreign land.”

Bethan Roberts, MA Creative Writing graduateMother Island is the fourth novel of Bethan’s short-yet-illustrious career as a writer, and follows on from her successful book The Good Plain Cook, which was serialized on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. Her love of writing follows from a fascination with stories as a child.

Bethan added: “I grew up in a working class family, and I didn’t know anyone who wrote. I always wanted to be a writer, so studied for degree in English, however, I was a bit overwhelmed by the quality of the books I was reading and I lost all confidence.”

After stints as a television documentary researcher, writer, and assistant producer, Bethan turned her hand to a postgraduate degree in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester.

“The MA at Chichester was life-changing - I was surrounded by other writers and tutors, all of whom were professionals with plenty of experience,” she said. “I learnt so much from their feedback and, by the end of the MA, I was on my way to becoming a published writer, and had almost finished my first novel.

“It also gave me the confidence to turn my own experiences into words which, ultimately, led to Mother Island: the story of two women, joined by old family history and love for the same little boy.”

To find out more about Bethan and her latest novel Mother Island visit https://bethanrobertswriter.co.uk. Alternatively for more on the University of Chichester’s MA in Creative Writing go to www.chi.ac.uk/humanities.