First of all, Happy Pub Day Heidi! And welcome as this is your first visit to the blog.
What’s your book about?
Beneath The Surface is about a family who are pulled apart when 17 year old Abi comes home from school to find her mother and two younger sisters have disappeared. Fourteen years later the book unravels the stories of three characters – Abi; her mother, Kathryn and one of the young girls, Hannah, who is now sixteen. There are many lies and dark secrets that have been kept within the family and it appears only one person might know the full extent of what happened that day.
Who is the central character and what problem are they trying to solve?
Even though the book is told by three women we are drawn to Abi as the central character as it is predominantly her active search for the truth that drives the story. Fourteen years after her mother disappeared from her life Abi needs to find out what happened to her family. She has had her reasons for leaving it this long but now something in her life has made her confront that awful day and realise she has to understand the truth to be able to move on.
What inspired the storyline to your novel?
The inspiration came from a thought I used to have as a child – what if suddenly things weren’t as I thought or expected them to be? What if my mum takes off a mask and I realise it isn’t her? It sounds crazy now but it was this that gave me the idea for the story and I began to think about what situation could be unimaginable for a child to walk into. Out of this the disappearance of Abi’s family was born!
How long did it take you to write?
I wrote the first draft in about four months. Then I rewrote it, sent it out to friends to read and rewrote it again a couple more times. By the point I was ready to send it to agents the whole process probably took about 8 months.
Which do you prefer to do first and why, Character or Plot?
Ooh, that’s an interesting question! Probably plot for me. I think on the whole I tend to start with the idea for a story and then work out the characters later. That’s certainly what I did with Beneath The Surface.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I genuinely love the whole process but I think the thing I like most is starting a fresh chapter and not really knowing where it’s going to take me. Sometimes I start off with one idea then go off on a completely different tangent. I remember thinking it was like reading a book I really enjoyed only I got to figure out the ending.
What did you research the most while writing this book?
Women who had been left by their mothers when they were children. I wanted to understand how they coped with such a horrible ordeal once they were adults themselves, because I needed to make sure I got Abi’s reactions and decisions as close to being real as I could.
For those who have not discovered your this novel, how would you describe it to them to get them interested?
It is a story about all the layers of lies and secrets in one family and how big an impact our mothers have on us. Abi’s search is to find out what happened to her family when they disappeared fourteen years ago but it is also about what will happen if she ever finds them again. I hope that by telling the story through three different women in the same family I have managed to weave through the mystery and depth of darkness that is held within it.
What’s a typical writing day like for you?
On a typical day when I am in the midst of writing a book I will drop the children at school and then come home and write pretty much flat out until I pick them up again. (Although I will sometimes come home via the shops or meet a friend for coffee first!) My youngest has only just started school so this has been an opportunity for me to write more and I have been making the most of it, before that I was finding the time to do it when the children were in nursery or asleep.
Who’s your favourite character arc of all time?
I love her enthusiasm and determination and if people get in her way she just gets them back!
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yes, I am in the middle of my next book, which is a psychological thriller about a four-year-old girl who goes missing. (Again with the missing theme I know, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.) This time I have worked out the whole story at the outset, and knew how I wanted it to end. The ending has driven me with my next book, whilst it was the beginning that drove Beneath The Surface.
What is the theme or take home message of your book?
I think one of the major themes that drives the story is the impact mothers have on our lives. Interestingly I was on a course the other day and we were asked to think about beliefs we have carried through that have shaped our lives. It was probably unsurprising to see how many of these beliefs were all from our mothers. For Abi and all the women in her family, their mothers have shaped their lives dramatically.
Another theme that struck me as I was writing the story is that of confronting your problems, although I never set out to make it so prominent. Two of my key characters have suffered from shying away from very major things that have affected them and it wasn’t until I had written their conclusions did I see how much they needed to face to be able to move on. I didn’t set out with a theme or take home message but this is one that came out and surprised me.
Thank you for your time.
It is currently not up there but hopefully will be soon…