A shocking story about a fifteen-year-old girl and the man who took advantage of her
“You might as well know from the start, I’m not going to tell on him and I don’t care how much trouble I get in. It’s not like it could get any worse than it already is.
I can’t. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t.”
When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart.
Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything.
As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.
1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I must admit, I’ve never really considered the possibility of collaborating, but working on a joint project is a tempting idea. I think I’d want to try something different and because my books tend to be emotional reads, perhaps I’d venture into comedy. I’d definitely want to work with someone I could have a laugh with, so I think I’d pick Dawn French. I’ve heard she writes everything longhand, so maybe my job would be limited to typing up her notes and doing my best to absorb some of her talent.
2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
The simple answer is that I don’t know what a typical writing day is anymore because I’ve only just started writing full time. I’ve worked in ‘waste,’ for the last thirty one years and spent the last five fitting in my writing around the day job. I do have a pretty good idea, however, of what my writing day should look like. I’ll get up early and spend the first hour writing on my treadmill. I know that must sound strange, but I was conscious of how sedentary my life could become so I’ve had a small desk fitted to my treadmill so I can write and walk at the same time. After breakfast, I’ll move to my study upstairs and if I can, I’ll aim to have most of my writing done by early afternoon, which gives me the rest of the day to mull over what I’ve written and come up with ideas about what should happen next.
3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Up until recently, it was finding the time (see answer above!) Next on the list is finding the ideas as I’m now publishing two books a year – in fact because of the early release of The Affair as an ebook, I’ve managed to have three novels published in 2016. It means I’m constantly on the lookout for new ideas and it can be frustrating at times because inspiration can’t be forced. I’ve become adept at watching the world around me and constantly wondering ‘What if…’ Occasionally it pays off.
4. When and why did you first start writing?
I wasn’t someone who always wanted to be a writer, in fact I was in my late thirties before I took any real interest in writing and it was at a time when I was dealing with a nightmare rather than pursuing a dream. My son Nathan was twenty one months old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2004, and I found writing poetry and keeping a journal helped me remain strong for both my son and his older sister Jessica. When he died in 2006, writing was a way for me to process my grief. At first I wrote about my son, but once all of those precious memories were committed to paper, I found I wanted to carry on writing. Yesterday’s Sun was my first attempt at women’s fiction and was inspired by my experiences of motherhood. The story not only secured my first book deal, but was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2012. I’m slightly stunned to be publishing what will be my seventh novel, with another two in production, and all because of one little boy who has left such an amazing legacy.
5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
With some of my books, I have a very clear memory of where I was when I had that first flash of inspiration but the idea for The Affair was one that developed slowly, then morphed into something completely different. I can remember visualising an opening scene where a young teacher walks out on her class and her career, leaving her students stunned. She was meant to be my main character but that all changed following some long and interesting chats with my editor. The Affair is almost unrecognisable from the synopsis I pitched originally, in fact the only element that has remained is the schoolgirl I had imagined watching her teacher’s life fall apart. That schoolgirl was Scarlett.
6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I think it’s incredibly important to read if you’re a writer, although I don’t consider it a chore and hopefully now that I’m giving up the day job, I’ll have more time to read. I’m currently reading Finding Martha by Caroline Wallace, partly because she’s another local author and partly because it’s a fabulous and quirky story set in 1970’s Liverpool. I’ve lived in Liverpool all my life and many of my books are based here because I know the place so well. I should quickly add that The Affair is based in a fictional town called Sedgefield, mainly because I didn’t want to scandalise a real school.
7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
My advice to any aspiring writer would be that it’s never too late to start. If anything, age and experience can be a distinct advantage. That being said, if you do think you want to tackle a novel, make sure the story is something that you absolutely want to write. Don’t write because you want a book published but because you’re desperate to read this fantastic book that you’ve started to create in your mind. That way, when you’re ready to create your masterpiece, it will be a page turner for you too even though you’re the one putting in those long hours to fill the pages.