Monday, 27 June 2016

Sssh! Do You Want To Know A Secret?
Recently, I watched the aptly titled drama, The Secret, on ITV. Set amid a devout Baptist community in Northern Ireland in the early Nineties, the story is based on a true story about an adulterous affair that went horribly wrong. Rather than reveal the outcomes in case some of you want to watch the series, HERE is a link to find out more. 

My first novel centres around one big family secret. Everyone has managed to keep it from my main character, Clara, for eighteen years until she overhears her aunt spilling the beans to someone at her nephew's christening. Her reaction to what she has found out takes her to another decade in history and to a foreign country. There are other secrets of forbidden love and Black Market in the story, too. 

I'm now planning novel number two and there's a secret at the heart of my new story. It's got me thinking about what kinds of secrets lie deeply buried in families.Some can be small and insignificant whilst others can have heartbreaking results when they are divulged. Most families have secrets but it's the kind and importance of those secrets that vary. Some of the best novels I've read centre around deeply held secrets. The secret can relate to issues such as infidelity, mental illness, crime, abuse, premarital pregnancy, sexuality, alcoholism...the list goes on. It seems that the darker the secret the deeper it's hidden. Any topic that a family member thinks may cause anxiety may become a family secret. Secrets that were shocking in one era may be perfectly acceptable in another. 

At a recent meeting of my critique group, I took along the mind-map/plan of novel number 2 which is another dual narrative and partly set in Greece. I presented the initial plot and asked for suggestions for other possible family secrets that would be unravelled by the main character, Lexi, in her quest for the truth about her birth father. Here are some of the what if?s my writing buddies came up with:
  • What if her real father 'accidentally' killed her grandfather and so was not in a position to marry her mother, Elin?
  • What if Costas is her father but Elin is not her real mother but a woman who gave birth to a still-born baby and stole Lexi?
  • What if Costas is not Lexi's father but his brother had a secret affair with Elin and Lexi was the result?
  • What if the mother of the two Greek brothers has a dark secret of her own and Costas is not her son?
It was interesting to see how people came up with different scenarios and by relating their 'stories', it gave me plenty to think about. I won't tell you what I've decided or even if I'll use any of their's a secret! 

What secrets do you find the most fascinating or compelling to read about? What book that has a dark secret at its heart would you recommend?

Look out for The Unravelling by Thorne Moore which is due to be published on July 21st by Honno. Isn't that a brilliant title? I can't wait to read it.
'Middle-aged Karen is suddenly reminded of an incident from her childhood and just as suddenly finding Serena Whinn becomes an obsession. As she tracks down her playmates from Marsh Green Junior School. Karen finds herself on a journey into a land of secrets and lies.'  

Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.


  1. Secrets are a great topic for stories.

    1. I agree, Patsy, and so many families have them, don't they? Thanks for commenting.

  2. Your book sounds fab, Jan! And on to book 2! Well done :) I love a good secret, and yes - families seem to be a great source for them. I have just read the new novel, Never Alone, by Elizabeth Haynes which has secrets at its heart. A brilliant page-turner - it's out at the end of this month.

    1. Thanks, Sam. I shall look out for 'Never Alone'. You've certainly whetted my appetite so thanks for the recommendation. I appreciate you popping by to leave a comment. :-)

  3. A secret can add so much to a book. I read somewhere that our brains are geared to seek answers to questions - hence the enduring popularity of the detective novel. Having a secret central to your plot will help create a page-turner. Hope you are enjoying working on your second novel, Jan. See you very soon!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sue. We have now met up in person at the conference and it was just as if I'd known you for ages. :-)