Saint X: Is Emily AKA Claire Thomas Inspired by a Real Person?

Hulu’s murder mystery drama ‘Saint X’ follows the story of Claire Thomas, whose life is upturned after her sister, Alison, dies on the last day of their week-long vacation at the eponymous resort. One part of the story follows the events on the island, showing us different sides of Alison, while the other part takes place around two decades later, where a grown-up Claire becomes the center of the story.

She becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to Alison after a chance encounter with Clive. He was one of the suspects during the murder investigation, but his guilt was never proven. Claire’s obsession leads her down a dangerous path as she insinuates herself in Clive’s life to get the truth out of him. If you are wondering whether there is any truth to the story and if Claire is based on an actual person, then here’s what you should know.

Emily AKA Claire Thomas is a Fictional Character

Claire Thomas is not based on a real person. She is a fictional character created by Alexis Schaitkin for the novel on which the Hulu series is based. While the story begins with Alison’s death, the author was more interested in following the aftermath of the murder rather than the crime and its investigation. Citing the case of JonBenét Ramsey’s death and the media coverage that followed it, Schaitkin revealed that she wanted to explore the impact that such an event would have on a person and their family and where it would lead them decades after their loss.

“I had to be about 11 years old when it [Ramsey’s case] happened. I remember being completely mesmerized. As I grew up, I was really interested in the public’s fascination/obsession with the [tragic] deaths of young women. And, I was always interested in what it would be like to be that person’s sister or someone else really close to them; what that experience would be like — to have a very personal loss be this media sensation,” the author said.

Another case that influenced Schaitkin while writing the story was the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. There are a few similarities between her and Alison’s case. However, the author maintains that she didn’t base the fictional case on the real-life one. She was aware of the parallels, so she decided not to delve into any research surrounding it. However, there was one thing about the case that she was interested in. “The one article I did read was an interview with some of Natalee’s friends about how her death continued to impact their lives years later. That’s certainly a theme with which Saint X is deeply engaged,” she said.

Due to the highly publicized nature of these cases and others like them, Schaitkin wanted to explore the meaning of grief for people close to the victims. “For Claire, her grief and processing of her sister’s death have a second layer, a very public component. The moment people discover who [Claire’s] sister is that she’s part of this famous story, everything is about her and her sister. It makes you think, what does normal grief look like? How do people, who are part of a famous story, grieve?” she said.

Schaitkin looked at Claire’s grief from the lens of obsession. “Obsession is an enduring fascination for me. That sense that we’re all living our lives on this incredibly thin surface, below which are all the things with the potential to consume us and pull us under. I don’t think of myself as an especially obsessive person, but, then again, neither does Claire before one brief encounter sends her into a spiral,” the author said. In the end, ‘Saint X’ becomes more about Claire’s endless pursuit and discovering the truth rather than the truth itself. With this in mind, we can say that Claire is not based on a real person, but the author has made as realistic and relatable by putting the audience in her shoes and making them wonder what they’d have done.

Read More: Who Killed Alison Thomas in Saint X? Theories