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December Girl is inspired by two true stories. The first is an eviction that took place at Dowth in 1880 and was the subject of an academic thesis by Slane native Gareth Yore. Yore, published his essay of the newspaper coverage of the case in a journal of local stories and it was this journal that Nicola stumbled across, while researching ideas for a novel. Try as she might, she couldn’t shake the true story of a family evicted wrongfully at the hands of a jealous neighbour.

Nicola took this story and created a fictional family, based on the original Elcock family who lived at Dowth. She added in the Brabazons, a landed gentry family who own the land where the fictional Thomas family live. She used Townley Hall House and Dowth Hall, as inspiration for an imagined country mansion, home to the Brabazons.

In December Girl, Molly has her baby Oliver taken from a pram outside a shop. This story is also inspired by a true baby kidnapping in 1960s Dublin where a childless woman stole a baby as her own and brought her to Belfast to live. The child was eventually returned to her true parents, but the woman managed to keep up the deception for a number of years.

December Girl explores themes of family bond, love and revenge and touches on darker themes of homelessness, prostitution and exploitation. It will appeal to readers who like family sagas, upmarket fiction, historical fiction and TV dramas such as Downton Abbey.

Many thanks to Tony Campbell for his beautiful photograph of the Boyne River