Crime writer: Why I'm donating royalties to Dogs Trust

Victoria is donating pre-order royalties of her book Truly Darkly Deeply to Dogs Trust in memory of her beloved late spaniel

Victoria is donating pre-order royalties of her murder thriller Truly Darkly Deeply to Dogs Trust in memory of her beloved late spaniel Maggie - Credit: Courtesy of Victoria Selman

The advice for authors is always "write what you know", but what about "write where you know"?

My new novel, Truly Darkly Deeply (Quercus’ flagship thriller of 2022) explores a serial killer’s legacy through the eyes of his daughter, who twenty years after his incarceration, still can’t be sure whether he’s actually guilty.

The book opens with my protagonist, Sophie receiving a letter from prison saying the notorious, Matty Melgren is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free -- or bury her deeper?

It’s a story that taps into my fascination with true crime and the criminal psyche, although what intrigues me just as much as the mentality of evil is how serial killers are able to dupe those close to them. That it’s possible to share your life with one without ever suspecting it.

How would finding out that you had done so affect a person? How could you ever live with the guilt?

Victoria Slotover and am image of her crime girl podcast

West Hampstead author Victoria Selman - Credit: Archant

Written during Lockdown whilst home-schooling my two children at home in West Hampstead - multiple murder provided a welcome break from endless snack making and BBC Bitesize – the book is set in Hampstead where I’ve lived for most of my life. Some places are just too  special to leave.

In a novel, place can be as important as plot. It sets a mood, oftentimes reflecting a character’s psychology whilst also establishing the spirit of the story. Wuthering Heights set in Leeds just wouldn’t strike the same chord!

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In Truly Darkly Deeply, the charm of Hampstead is both a foil for the darkness of the crimes supposedly committed by Matty, and also a reflection of the charm that enables the killer to lure his victims.

When Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose move to London, Matty quickly becomes an integral part of their lives- and a murderer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose. Sophie starts school in Hampstead, goes for walks on Parliament Hill and enjoys afternoon tea with her mother and Matty at a café on Hampstead High Street:

"The marzipan cookies are to die for" he tells them.

While I was writing, Truly Darkly Deeply, my beloved spaniel, Maggie died. She was my constant companion, my heartbeat. I still miss her every day. Dogs Trust, which is the UK’s largest canine welfare charity, found her a plot in their pet cemetery. Having a place to visit was hugely comforting. The last time I went, a cherry tree was blossoming over her grave.

That’s why I’ve launched a campaign to support the charity, to thank them for shining a light when life turned dark. And in memory of, Maggie.

I am donating all pre-order royalties of Truly Darkly Deeply to Dogs Trust and have been thrilled by the response I’ve received so far.

Dog loving celebrities such as Lorraine Kelly and Dominic Dyer have helped spread the word about the campaign. While, literary giants like Patricia Cornwell have championed the novel saying it "moves at the pace of wildfire" and "you won’t put it down".

Truly Darkly Deeply is published on July 7 by Quadrant

Truly Darkly Deeply is published on July 7 by Quercus - Credit: Courtesy of the publisher

Truly Darkly Deeply is out in hardback on July 7. If you’d like to support the campaign, you can do so by pre-ordering Truly Darkly Deeply here: