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Tuesday 25 February 2020


When I eventually came back down to earth after the publication of The Ghostly Father, it gradually dawned on me that if I wanted to be a serious writer, I'd need to get something else out there fairly soon.

For my next project, I resorted to the safe principle: Write About What You Know.  In my case, this was family history.  Little did I know where this would lead...

I'd been interested in the subject for most of my life - ever since the time when, as a teenager, I discovered a baffling puzzle about my surname.  Unlike most of my dad's side of the family (who all had a nice simple surname which was easy to spell and easy to pronounce), we were blighted with one which I hated so much that I'm not even prepared to tell you what it was.  This anomaly was strange enough on its own, but even more mysterious was the conspiracy of silence which surrounded it.  When I asked how it had arisen, the only reply was a single whispered hint of a possible illegitimacy in a previous generation - followed by the clear message that the subject must never be discussed again.

It took me more than thirty years to find out exactly what had happened.  And when I did eventually get to the bottom of it, it opened up not one but two cans of worms.

Once I'd got over the surprise of what I'd discovered, I realised that the story was too good to simply set aside - and in due course it found its way into the plot of my second novel, Nice Girls Don't.  This book is centred on the search for family secrets, and the discovery that old sins can cast long shadows.

After Nice Girls Don't was published (also by Crooked Cat), I realised that one loose end had been unintentionally left dangling.  Luckily it didn't affect the outcome of that story, but it did go on to provide the plot of the spin-off novel Finding Nina.  The latter is also about family secrets, and is (to date) the only one of my books which made me cry as I was writing it.  That must prove something, though I'm not quite sure what.

I once heard it said (I forget by whom) that once you've opened a can of worms, the only way you can put them back is by using a larger can.  I don't think I've necessarily achieved that, but I hope that capturing them in the pages of a book creates an acceptable alternative.

Please join me again tomorrow, when I'll be showing you something completely different.  In the meantime, don't forget that all my Kindle titles are just 99p each for this week only.  Click on the book covers on the right to find out more.

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