The Story Behind the Story – The Hen Party

Hi there!

Welcome to Readerly Ramblings for August

Each month in 2021, I'm talking about the story behind the story of one of my novels.  This month it's the turn of my new release, The Hen Party. I'll start with a quote taken at one of the vital moments of the novel.

Her scream is something I’ll never forget. She hurtles from the room and the others burst in. The wailing, yelling and weeping ricochets around the walls. I don’t know how long it goes on for. Oh my God, oh my God. I can’t take my eyes off her. I can’t wail, yell or weep. All I can do is stare at the shape of her stretched out form beneath the duvet.

The Hen Party (I won’t tell you which character this is, or else that will rule one possibility out!

Cover Credit: Darran Holmes

The Idea

The idea for The Hen Party started to percolate when I was enjoying my own hen party last year.  (Without the deadly consequences!)

I was able to take elements of the setting, and the ways we spent our time, though of course, the hens themselves are completely fictional.  That won’t stop the ladies who attended searching for themselves in this story though!

My own hen weekend was spent in Edinburgh, not Dublin, where this fictional party takes place. I observed how different everyone was, and how unique each individual relationship I have with them is.

Then there were the dynamics around how we gelled as a group. This was great inspiration and when I returned from Edinburgh, in my usual way, I began inventing some new hens and posing some what if’s.

Constructing a Page Turner!

As a person, I hope I look for the best in others, but as an author, I definitely find the worst traits of my characters.

These characters were no exception.  As the story unfolded, the undercurrents and tensions between them were revealed and it seemed that there would be no shortage of motive when it came to the murder.

The Hen Party was, at first, quite a ‘linear’ story but at second draft stage, I interjected the individual police interviews to provide backstory, and a deeper getting to know of each character - this included their feelings towards the deceased.

Then I surprised myself with the twist that didn’t come to me until I was close to the end of the second draft…

Reviews and Research

As the author of dark domestic thrillers, I’d be lost without my partner in crime, Google.  Without giving too much away, here are some examples of my searches:

Can police interview away from the police station?

How long does it take to smother someone to death?

What signs are there on a body that suffocation hasn’t been accidental?

Is facial recognition in use at all airports?

How long does it take a body to be removed from a crime scene?

There were many more, but I don’t want to spoil the story for you!  If I haven’t got you rushing to get your hands on a copy already, here’s the prologue…


It takes a moment for my eyes to grow accustomed to the darkness. My heart rate quickens and I hear the hiss of my breath in my ears. As I tiptoe to her side, she doesn’t stir.

I hold the pillow, my hands gripping either edge as I prepare to lower it.

She barely flinches to start with. I wonder if she will just drift into an eternal sleep without waking first.

Her body becomes rigid, but then, some fight kicks in, her arms and legs flail in all directions. Taken aback, I press down. Hard. I hear her gasps beneath the pillow. She doesn’t thrash for long before going limp. Then. Silence.

I hardly dare move the pillow for a moment. When I do, I know there’s no going back.

She’s gone.

To get your copy of The Hen Party, click below:

 Oh wow, what a read. This has to be one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read and I have read plenty. The plot was brilliant. And then there were nine. It is hard to believe that any of these seemingly normal, if bitchy women, out to enjoy themselves on a hen party, could have committed murder. But could they? Why would they? There is enough jealousy and simmering grudges floating around, but murder? Who knows what goes on in peoples’ minds and that’s what makes this such a brilliant read. We get to know the characters through their interaction with each other and the first person police interviews. No blood (well not much), no guts, no gore here, just a brilliantly finessed plot. And the end!! Never in a million years did I see that coming. A well deserved 5 stars for Maria Frankland.

Charlotte - Amazon Reviewer

Win a Reader Goodie Bag

I am also giving away a Yorkshire-themed goodie bag.  Click on this link to enter the draw. (No purchase necessary.)

What I am Reading:

The Paper Girls by Alex Smith – the domestic thrillers I normally read are standalones.  This one’s part of a series and is so far pulling me in!

What I am Writing:

A brand new novel - In His Shadow. I’m currently at the planning stage for the book that will come out next May.  This is one of the most exciting stages – getting to know the characters and plotting the plot.

I’m nearly at the point where I’ll begin writing 2000 words every day…

What I am Editing:

Drowned Voices.

I am now on draft five, the final stage before the manuscript goes to my first reader, (aka my husband Michael.) This is always a nerve wracking stage as he will pull no punches if there's anything not working in it!

I'm also doing the final proof read on Last Christmas before it goes to my Advance Reader Team at the end of August.

Quote of the Month:

It's one of my own quotes this month:

Thanks so much for your interest in my work and I’ll see you next month. Happy reading!

Bye for now,


PS: This blog post is also available in video format on YouTube. I post a new blog for my readers on the 18th of every month.


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If only you could choose your family…