My influences for Secrets in the Shadows
Family: I can’t do storytelling without bringing in families, because families leak into so much of who we are. When I was writing Secrets in the Shadows, I loved presenting different generations of daughters, and a set of twins, whose actions and experiences were foreshadowed and echoed by one another.
Maggie O’Farrell’s books are, without doubt, my favourite reflections on the complexities of family relationships. I love reading about families and will always write about them: their secrets, their luck, their tangled pasts.
Magic: I think the connection between now and the past is quite magical, in the loose sense of the word. But I wanted to take the idea of magic and gifts slightly further. I like a hint of enchantment in books: the whole point of reading and writing is to enter another world. But for me, there’s a fine line: plots and characters still have to be relatable and believable.
Magic realism has always appealed to me: books by Isabelle Allende, Audrey Niffenegger, Cecelia Ahern and Kate Atkinson’s early stuff, all make me think, what if that happened to me?
Blackpool: My hometown is a place that has a bad reputation, but there’s still a soul there that speaks of a much grander past. Whilst I was researching Blackpool’s history, I found out that a fire devastated North Pier in September 1921. I wanted to use the fire - to explain it with my own characters and link them to the real history of the town. When I’ve finished a novel and then read a note at the end about how the whole story was sparked from a real person or event, it makes the book stay with me for even longer.
The Two Men: I think there are, amongst others, two types of men in the world: the Eliots and the Noels. Noel is subtle; Eliot is expressive. Eliot is a bit of a show-off; Noel is quietly confident. They are both attractive in their own ways and neither is flawless or a simple villain. I’m not going to give anything away on who I would choose, or who my characters choose. But I will be very interested to see which one readers are drawn towards the most.
There are other things that are important to me as a writer, of course, and they’re the same things that are important to me as a person: friendships, motherhood, homes, the pull of the past and the future. Oh, and eyeliner…
I studied English at the University of Chester, and have written stories for as long as I can remember. I love writing about how fragile the present is and how so much of it depends on chance events that took place years ago. The most important things in my life are my family, my friends, books, baking on a Saturday afternoon, getting glammed up to go out for champagne and dinner and having cosy weekends away. I live in Blackpool with my husband and our little girl.
In 1920s Blackpool, eleven year old Rose wanders away from her parents and has a unique gift bestowed upon her. This gift will leave a haunting legacy, seeping down through the generations…
Decades later, Louisa has a vision of her mother walking into the sea. This isn’t the first time it happens and it won’t be the last, but what she sees isn’t always what she wants. The rest of her life is spent trying to change the future that haunts her.
In present day Blackpool, Grace is going to be married someday. She knows this because she’s seen it; a vision of a white dress, daisies embroidered on the sleeves, the groom by her side, vowing to love her forever. Except the man in her premonition doesn’t belong to her- he belongs to her twin sister, Elsie.
Haunted by what they know and what they are afraid to find out, all three women must make a choice: in the face of certain destiny should you chase the outcome that’s “meant to be”, or throw away fate and choose your own future?