Almost thirty years ago, while I was full-time teaching and my artist husband in Higher Education, we decided to find a bolthole in France where I could focus on my writing and he on his painting. We were travelling south towards the Eastern Pyrenees when we stopped at a Service Station near Cahors. The main car park was full so we went further on towards an overflow area next to a children’s play park. Here was a swing still swinging with no sign of its young occupant. Although a windless, sunny day, the woods just beyond this were dense and dark, with the nearest foliage trampled and broken. All very mysterious, and as we drove on, that scene stayed in my mind.
We reached the Aude region in time to view several properties – all cheap, all needing renovation – and it was during these visits that the theme of Prey Silence became clear. Innocents abroad. The first hovel boasted an enormous marble cruxifixion in all its gory outside the one front window. Another, an abandoned ‘fermette’ was overrun with aggressive chickens, and the third contained a bottomless Roman well in the middle of the kitchen, plus a body-sized opening.
So, who would want to move their young family to live permanently in something so different? So unknown? Well, Tom Wardle-Smith from leafy, ‘civilised’ Surrey, for a start.
Where this chiller begins…
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