Cambridgeshire

Louise Doughty says Peterborough station research 'alarmed' staff

Platform 7, Peterborough station Image copyright Geograph/Richard Sutcliffe
Image caption Platform seven at Peterborough station is the setting for Louise Doughty's new novel

An author whose new novel is set entirely at Peterborough station said she worried rail staff as she researched the book.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty centres on the station, as her main character, a ghost named Lisa, attempts to solve the riddle of her own death.

She joked curious station staff would ask about the book "and then back away from me, a bit alarmed".

"I think I'm the first novelist to set a whole novel there," she said.

Image caption Louise Doughty spent many years travelling through Peterborough station

The book explores themes of coercive control and psychological abuse as Lisa tries to piece together the mystery of how she died.

Ms Doughty, whose best-known novel Apple Tree Yard was adapted for television in 2016, spent many days at the station while researching the book, even accompanying British Transport Police on night shifts.

"People are so generous. I never get over this as a novelist - the number of people with real jobs who are really happy to indulge me," she said.

Image copyright BBC/Kudos/Nick Briggs
Image caption Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin starred in the BBC adaptation of Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard

The station was already familiar to Ms Doughty, 56, as it was where she changed trains to get back to her home town of Oakham in Rutland while studying in Leeds and, later, Norwich and London.

Given how much time she has spent there, the inspiration for her novel may have come from close to home.

"I used to have a standing joke and say if I'd been really bad and went to purgatory when I died, I'd find myself trapped in Peterborough railway station on a cold winter's night, with the cold wind blowing across the Fens," she said.

Ms Doughty has written eight previous novels, including Whatever You Love, which was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award in 2010.

She also presented the BBC Radio 4 programme A Good Read between 1998 and 2001.

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