A gritty tale of prejudice and murder: Burnley author releases debut novel USED

A Burnley-born author has released her debut novel USED, which follows the story of a 14-year-old Burnley girl who becomes the victim of entrapment at the hands of an older man.

Helen Chaffer
Helen Chaffer

Former Towneley and St. Theodore's sixth form pupil Helen Chaffer's self-published debut is a gritty tale of grooming, abuse, prejudice, and murder. Drawing on the author's knowledge of her hometown to provide the story with a vivid backdrop in East Lancashire, the story-line follows protagonist Courtney Miller into a world of sexual exploitation, drug addiction, and mental manipulation.

Born in the North West but now living in Gosport on the south coast where her home overlooks the 'calming' sea, Helen said that she has always enjoyed writing and that her novel's themes were inspired by the safeguarding training she received during her time working in education.

"For a number of years, I've worked in both primary and secondary education, where the subject of child exploitation and grooming has formed part of safeguarding training," said Helen, 52. "When I lived in Burnley, I became aware of victims locally [and] I decided to base the story in Burnley as I am very familiar with the town and its streets and people.

"Being born and bred in Burnley myself, I am aware we are a straight-talking, resilient, humble breed of folk and these are the qualities needed to be a survivor," added Helen, who said that she has suffered from chronic depression for most of her life and that writing has proved therapeutic. "Although the characters in the book are entirely fictional, I have tried to make them as true to life as possible by researching and reading.

"I also wanted to explore the reasons behind the crimes of abusers and prejudices in general," she continued. "USED contains characters with prejudices against different football teams, misogynist prejudice, and racism, but is balanced by characters who build bridges and embrace difference.

"It's a moral tale of the damage that prejudice causes and the joy that comes from true equality and care."

USED is available on Amazon.