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The Influencer

UK Publisher: Piatkus Books (Little, Brown)

Gina Hart is a social media queen. She has over half a million followers on Instagram and Twitter, as well as thirty thousand fans tuning in each month to listen to her podcast: ‘How to live a creative life.’
Her social media fame has become the family business, her husband is her full-time secretary, and she regularly photographs her fifteen-year-old daughter to display their ‘perfect life’, often taking her out of school and paying her to pose.

But keeping up this social media presence is exhausting, and at thirty-five, Gina isn’t getting any younger. What she needs is something to help her break out of the online world and achieve fame in mainstream media.
The opportunity presents itself when the once famous actress, Danielle Byrne attends one of her workshops. Danielle is best known for the disappearance of her ten-year-old daughter, Samantha, thirteen years ago. Danielle believes Samantha is alive and feels that social media is the best way to find her. She asks for Gina’s help, and thinking this is the high-profile break she’s been waiting for, Gina agrees.

The campaign becomes a worldwide sensation and Gina is catapulted into a kind of fame she didn’t bargain for. Unlike social media, she can’t control any of it, and opinions and judgements are made, and the trolls come out in force. They accuse her of cashing in on Danielle’s grief and death threats start to arrive.

When her daughter’s life is threatened, Gina tries to pull away, but it’s too late. As her past is exposed, she goes viral, and she can’t escape the spotlight. But it’s only when her own daughter goes missing that Gina realises exactly how much trouble she’s in. The campaign turns from trying to find Danielle’s daughter, to trying to find her own daughter, and as her life and career begin to unravel around her, Gina realises something far worse than anything she imagined is at play.

Zoe Lea lives in the Lake District with her husband, who is a Falconer, and their children. Zoe's chilling debut novel, The...