A UNIVERSITY of Winchester graduate has secured a publishing deal with her debut crime novel, which focuses on a protagonist who suspects her husband of being Jack the Ripper.

Clare Riley Whitfield's book, entitled People of Abandoned Character, has been picked up by publishing house, Head of Zeus and will be released in October 2020.

The inspiration for Clare’s book came from an adult creative writing workshop which she attended at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College.

She said: “It came from an exercise where we had to draft a piece based on a news article (Jack the Ripper) and write about it from the perspective of a person, not a victim and not a policeman! So I wrote about it from the perspective of a woman who thought she might be married to the Ripper. It was an idea that wouldn't leave me alone.”

The book focuses on the character of Susannah Chapman who rushes into marriage with wealthy surgeon Thomas Lancaster, and believes her future is set. But after the honeymoon things start to turn sour at home, and as Susannah follows the newspaper reports of the terrifying killer stalking the streets of Whitechapel, her suspicions over where her errant husband has been spending his time take the darkest route possible.”

People of Abandoned Character will be the first book in a two-book deal for Clare, who lives in Southampton.

And the mum-of-one has advice for anyone aspiring to write, saying: “I would say in terms of writing, there is nothing stopping anyone from learning what they can from reading and writing themselves and submitting to online journals or sharing in workshops, as long as they are ready to recognise when criticism chimes with an inner instinct and face into it.”

Clare suggests that persistence is key when trying to circulate new work. She described the process of writing as a slow but consistent one: “You have to crack on, inch by inch. I learned to loosen up a bit. I might have a plan when I start out, but it can change along the way - it’s messy and that's fine.”