Hiding Behind The Couch is a multi-part series of stories surrounding a single group of nine friends that takes place over the course of many years.
While storylines are intermingling, the focus of the story and the point of view frequently change.
It is best thought of as a literary soap opera, with seasons and special episodes – some are 'character specials', some are 'festive specials'.
All stories conclude, but there will be overarching plots that continue from one instalment to the next.
The inspiration for the characters, events and settings is the real world, but all characters, events and locations are entirely fictional.
The Gray Fisher trilogy is a stand-alone spin-off featuring two secondary characters from the main series, with some cameo appearances from Josh (the pivotal character in Hiding Behind The Couch).
Front of House
Front of House is an offshoot of the main series featuring the next generation of characters - Krissi (Shaunna's daughter), Jay and their peer group.
The series is primarily set in a fictional semi-rural town in the north-west of England – essentially an amalgamation of the real towns of Southport and Ormskirk – located on the coast and surrounded by agricultural land, with a number of outlying villages of varying sizes.
The Gray Fisher trilogy is set in and around (a fictional representation of) London.
Within the town, there are areas of older Victorian houses, newer council housing and new-build exclusive housing, as well as the traditional mix of post-war semi-detached houses and apartment buildings. On the outskirts of the town, there are a number of vast Victorian / Edwardian detached properties with extensive grounds.
Retail and Leisure
The retail area of the town centre has a shopping mall and traditional department store, as well as a number of restaurants, including fast-food outlets with 24-hour drive-thru facilities. The Pizza Place – a (fictional) national chain of pizza restaurants with HQ in Birmingham – has a restaurant in the town.
There is the usual mix of traditional and new pubs in the town, as well as a low-key bar with permanent 'open mic' for live jazz music.
There is an old cinema in the town and several parks, as well as nearby woodlands and outlying smaller villages. The town is within commuting distance of Manchester and a large out-of-town shopping centre; a theme park is a trainride away.
The town has a hospice and hospital, and a number of larger businesses are based there. For many years, Campion Holdings PLC was the most prominent local business, located in a large multistorey office block on the outskirts of the town centre.
There are two primary schools (Parkside County Primary School and St. Mark's C of E Primary School) and a high school (Moorcroft High School) in the area of the town where the characters of the series grew up. The town also has a college of further education and a university.
This interactive map shows some of the real-world locations that inspired the location in the series (I like to think of them as the places where our reality converges with the reality of The Circle).
You can access the map using this link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zCeM6Pw9_JLA.kza83xNxnbqg&usp=sharing
Or (hopefully) the map in the iframe below works – click the little square frame top-right to go full-screen.
Note: some of these characters, by virtue of their listing here, may spoil stories if you are still reading earlier in the series.
The central characters of the series are The Circle, who come together as a close-knit friendship group during the latter years of their high school education.
Joshua Sandison (Josh)
Eleanor Davenport (Ellie)
Daniel Jeffries (Dan)
Andrew Jeffries (Andy)
Jessica Lambert (Jess)
Kristian Johansson (Kris)
Adrian Simmons (Ade)
Charlotte Davenport (Charlie)
As children, the friends attended different primary schools, but all ended up at the same local high school.
Josh, George, Dan, Andy, Shaunna and Adele were all pupils at St. Mark's C of E Primary School; Jess and Eleanor both attended Parkside Primary School; Kris attended Harwood, a private prep school. Whilst they all end up in the same school year eventually, Josh is a year younger than the others, and Andy is a year older. Josh is moved up a year right at the start of his education, as he is a 'gifted child'. Andy fails his A Levels in sixth form and drops back a year to join the others.
Other Significant Characters:
(in no particular order)
Little Shaunna (Shu) Jeffries
Dylan Robert Spyris-Tierney
Carl Watkinson (Wotto)
Iris Morley (George's mum)
Pauline (Iris's friend)
Henry Hartley (Aitch)
Michael Jeffries (Mike)
Barbara Evans (Andy, Dan and Mike's mum)
Saorla Tierney (Sean's mum)
Aileen Cullen (Sean's 'Aunty Aileen')
Finn Tierney (Sean's brother)
Siobhan Hennessy (Shaunna's mum)
Jim Hennessy (Shaunna's dad)
Lee (Jono) Johnson
Michelle (Adele's mum)
Sally-Anne Reeves (Adele's stepmum)
Stu Drake (Jay's colleague)
Marie and Paddy (Mum and Dad)
Their children (in age order) + spouses -> granchildren:
Eleanor + James -> Oliver, Toby
Ben + Jo -> Louise, Amy
Luke + Kaz -> Kamesh, Kali, Kohl
Tilly + Craig -> Ashleigh, Benjamin
Gray Fisher Series Characters:
Naomi Silvestri/Aaron Tanner
Brian Macintyre (Tie)
Front of House Characters:
Carl (Wotto) Watkinson
Bridget McBride (Kaz's wife)
Laura, Priya, Niall and Erin (Milky's staff)
Genres (in progress)
The series as a whole is contemporary, realist fiction and features diverse characters (including LGBT+). As such, the characters and the situations they encounter are the everyday, real-life situations we all deal with - births, deaths, marriages, sickness, romance, crime, family feuds, and so on. Thus, the series crosses genres; an indication of the genres of each instalment is given below.
- Beginnings - Adult Fiction / Childhood Trauma
- Ruminations - Romance / Coming of Age
- Class-A - Romance / Coming of Age
- Hiding Behind The Couch (season one) - Family and Relationships
- No Time Like The Present (season two) - Murder Mystery
- The Harder They Fall (season three) - Family and Relationships
- Chain of Secrets - Romance
- Crying in the Rain - Romance
- First Christmas - Christmas Romance
- In The Stars Part I (season four) - Family and Relationships / Romance
- Breaking Waves - Honeymoon Romance
- In The Stars Part II (season five) - Family and Relationships / Romance
- A Midnight Clear - Christmas / Family and Relationships
- Red Hot Christmas - Christmas Romance
- Two By Two (season six) - Crime Mystery / Family and Relationships
- Hiding Out - Romance
- Breakfast at Cordelia's Aquarium - Flash Fiction / Fourth Wall
- Those Jeffries Boys - Romance / Family and Relationships
- The Wag and The Scoundrel (Gray Fisher #1) - Crime Mystery / Romance
- Reunions (season seven) - Crime Mystery
- What A Scorcher! (friendship) - Flash Fiction / Friendship
- To Be Sure (love/friendship) - Family and Relationships / Romance / Friendship
- Goth of Christmas Past - New Adult / Family and Relationships
- Tabula Rasa (Gray Fisher #2) - Crime Mystery / Romance
- Not My Coach - (in progress) Romance
- The Lost Mitten - Children's fiction (illustrated)
- The Advent of Reason - Murder Mystery (Cosy) / Holidays (Christmas)
- Highlights - Friendship / Slice of Life
- Not My Christmas - Romance / Holidays (Christmas)
- Distractions (Gray Fisher #3) - Crime Mystery / Romance
- Alumni (season eight) - (in progress) Family and Relationships / Supernatural