Tuesday 20 December 2016

Happy Christmas
I'd like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and thank you for reading my blog throughout 2016. It's been a pleasure to know how many have read the posts and I'm particularly grateful to those who've left comments. 

We shall be a full house this year with everyone coming down from Manchester. On Boxing Day, when my other son, daughter-in-law and their baby join us, there will be seven adults, three grandsons and two dogs! I'm really looking forward to having the whole family together.

I look forward to starting the blog again in the New Year when I shall be reflecting on the year that's just gone and looking forward to what 2017 may hold.

Sunday 4 December 2016

A Busy November
A few weeks ago, I announced with confidence to the world - well, to the readers of this blog, anyway! - that I'd been preparing for NaNoWriMo 2016 and was ready to write 50,000 of a brand new novel. Did I achieve my goal? I'm sorry to say that I fell way short. I wrote 15,352 words, in fact. In terms of word count, it could be considered as a big fail.

But was it? Isn't writing more than word count? I think so! November turned out to be a very busy month with meetings, visits and two weekends away. As a 'bottle-half full' girl, I decided to look back on the positives. Out of the thirty days in the month, I didn't write on eighteen days. Therefore, writing almost 15.5k words on the remaining twelve wasn't too bad, was it?

The month started well and the planning I'd done throughout October helped me start writing novel two with flying colours. I was enjoying getting to know my characters and I was transported to the sunny climes of Greece where the story was set. 

Then I received a much appreciated email with suggestions for edits and changes to my first novel, with the offer to read the final draft when I'd finished. The words of each new scene or re-write were added to my word count but much of the time I was substituting words or amending scenes which didn't add any more to the total. Even though my focus changed unexpectedly during NaNo, I still think it was a very valuable few weeks. Novel number one is hopefully much sharper and I shall return to my second novel in the new year.

Are you a NaNoWriMo 2016 winner? If so, huge congratulations! I can remember the feeling when I achieved my goal two years ago. If you didn't, what positives can you draw from participating? I'd love to read your comments. 

On the short story front, this week I was pleased to learn that my entry, 'The Bag Lady', was shortlisted in the Erewash Open Short Story Competition. 

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

Monday 21 November 2016

A Cache of Flashes
Published by Black Pear Press

It's that time of year again when Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe launches its annual flash fiction anthology. The anthology, A Cache of Flashes, contains a selection of flash fictions that were submitted to the competition earlier in the year. In the opinion of the judges, the best flashes have to invite one into another world, intrigue us, make us wonder...we want to understand the characters, learn about their lives and feel their emotions. They commented that every word must count, and what is not said is as important as what is.

This is the third year I've attended to read out my flashes and it was good to see familiar faces and meet new writers, too. As it did last year, the launch took place in Drummonds Bar in The Swan with Two Nicks pub. In this anthology, both my stories involve ghosts but the ghosts are very different. In The Empty Chair, the spirit of a much loved drinking partner is more of a reassuring presence rather than a frightening spectre. In The House Viewing, on the other hand, a young couple are completely spooked by a menacing crone who is haunting the house they go to view. 

I find that reading in front of fellow writers is always daunting but I'm sure I was not alone in appreciating the applause at the end of each reading. Hearing each story read aloud made them come alive in a different way from reading them on the page. Again, I was impressed with the wide range of subject matter and the variety of the writing styles of the authors. Whereas I try to intersperse writing short pieces in amongst longer stories and, currently, my novel, some writers told me that they write flash fiction exclusively. I thoroughly enjoyed my return visit to Worcester and I look forward to writing more flash fiction over the coming months. 

Do you write Flash Fiction? Do you need different skills from those you need to write a short story? A novel? How easy is it to transfer those skills? I'd love to hear what you think.

My short story I Want Gets Nothing was one of the new stories published on Alfie Dog Fiction yesterday. If you'd like to read it, you may download it HERE
Tracey lives in the shadow of her outgoing sister who can do no wrong in her mother;'s eyes. When Sharon buys a beautiful gold leather designer handbag on payday, Tracey becomes obsessed with owning one for herself. But how can she? She's just a school girl.

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

Monday 14 November 2016

Heroes, Heroines and Happy Endings
Last Thursday, along with my writing buddy, Helen, I attended a library event to celebrate the re-opening of Ystrad Mynach Library after recent refurbishment. It was presented by three Choc Lit authors, Chris Stovell, Evonne Wareham and Christina Courtenay who also writes her YA fiction as Pia Fenton. They introduced themselves and talked about their novels.

Chris writes contemporary fiction. She often sets her stories in sleepy villages, places on the edge of things. Her novels involve involve family secrets, exploring relationships and generally making sense of the world through fiction. 
Evonne writes romantic thrillers and romance with a darker edge. She noticed early on in her writing career that her stories always contained a crime. Not wanting to write police procedural novels, she enjoys mixing crime and romance where things are going to be alright in the end for both the hero and the heroine.
Pia writes historical romance and time slip (dual time) fiction, writing under her pseudonym of Christina Courtenay. Her novels have a trace of the Far East. She has always loved reading romantic stories and fairy stories where there was always a happy ending. Sometimes she likes to break away from all the research that historical writing involves and writes some contemporary YA stories. The New England series is the result. 

Interesting discussion was interspersed with questions and answers and covered various topics - irresistible Choc Lit heroes, what makes a good heroine and that vital ingredient in a Choc Lit novel, a satisfying and happy ending. We learned whether the writers were 'pantsters' or 'plotters'. As a lover of time-slip novels, I was particularly interested in the way Pia talked about colour-coding her characters' points of view. She was able to to check that she'd achieved the right balance and whether each story carried equal weight. 

All three authors talked about their research. Chris showed us how she had to dress for the weather whilst sailing and feeling decidedly sea-sick  - all good research for a novel.

Although Evonne couldn't bring props in the forms of weapons and guns to the talk (!!), she told us how she researches the crimes in her novels by visiting exhibitions, art galleries and museums to get her details right. She has also attended folk lore, forensic and crime courses.

Pia lived in Japan at one time and had brought along a selection of props for us to see. By knowing what it felt like to wear the beautiful red and gold silk wedding kimono and shoes, use the fan and parasol gave added credibility to the heroines in her Japanese trilogy. One of the librarians modelled the kimono and confirmed that it was very heavy.
Note the chocolate flavoured pencils, too!
We were given the opportunity to browse the wide range of the authors' books on display.

A big thank you to Chris, Evonne and Pia for giving up your time to share your tips and advice...and your chocolates! It was a very enjoyable afternoon. 

Thank you, too, to the library staff for making us all so welcome. 

Does your local library put on literary events like this? Perhaps you've given a talk on your books. I'd love it if you left a comment. 
Thank you for reading.
You may also follow me on @JanBayLit and on  Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Sunday 13 November 2016

A Story for Remembrance Day
This weekend has been one of poignant tales of sacrifice and remembering men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom. Many of those who survived still bear horrific scars both physically and mentally. Here is a short story I wrote a few years ago that was published on Cafe Lit. It's a tribute to all those who came back from World War II but had seen and experienced things that they'd never forget, about a young soldier coming home to the girl he left behind. 

Sunday 30 October 2016

Things That Go Bump In The Night
Hallowe'en is upon us and as writers many of us enjoy writing ghost stories. I'm not sure whether I believe in ghosts but I certainly believe that unexplained spooky things can happen to us. Perhaps you've heard noises in the night that you can't explain. Wales has its fair share of haunted places where you can book in for the night. Click HERE for the details about nine haunted hotels and inns. Would you book in to any of these and steel yourself to spend a whole night there?

Baskerville Hall is one of those listed. The building is set in 130 acres of Welsh countryside overlooking the Wye valley on the edge of the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountain National Park. It is reputed to have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his classic Sherlock Holmes story 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' and is known for its ghostly goings on. 

I have only written a few ghost stories. When I was challenged in writing group to write my first one, I found Kath McGurl's 'Ghost Stories and How to Write Them' an invaluable read. In it, she uses twelve of her ghost stories, most of which had been previously published in women's magazines, to form discussions about what makes a successful ghost story.  

Some of my ghost stories appear on Alfie Dog Fiction and if you would like to download them, please click HERE. They are 'The Journey Home', 'Unfinished Business' and 'Rock-a-Bye Baby'. 'Rock-a-Bye Baby' also appears in the Alfie Dog anthology, 'The Day Death Wore Books'.

Later this month, I shall be reading my flash fiction ghost story, 'The Empty Chair' at the launch of Worcester LitFest's anthology 'A Cache of Flashes'. The story is set in an old pub so it will be appropriate that the launch is in 'The Swan With Two Nicks', one of the oldest pubs in Worcester. My other story appearing in this year's anthology is entitled The House Viewing and is also a ghost story. 

Have you written ghost stories? If so, what was your inspiration? What makes you more afraid - sounds, places or feelings that things are not right? 
Thank you for reading my blog. It may be a bit quiet on here throughout November as I attempt to keep up with NaNo deadlines. Good luck to all of you who have registered, too. 

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

Saturday 22 October 2016

Ready. Set. Novel!
I know I said I wouldn't take part in NaNoWriMo again but...I am going to! I've decided it may be a good way to totally immerse myself in novel number two. Unless I give myself a deadline, I'm not very good at getting going. This time, though, I want to be better prepared, edit each days's writing before starting again the following day, be prepared to write scenes out of context rather than always follow the story consecutively and generally not get paranoid if I don't make the magic 50,000 word mark that I achieved in 2014. I know that may not be the true spirit of NaNo but at least I will have kick-started myself back into what I enjoy most - WRITING!

There are 9 days to go before November 1st. So, where am I now?
  • I have a story idea and it's another dual narrative.
  • I know my characters, their names, ages, personalities.
  • There are two places where the story will be set.
  • I'm exploring how the two stories will be presented, one through straightforward narrative and the other through diary entries.
  • There will be a number of family secrets that will unravel and these impact on the actions and decisions made by the two main characters.
  • And yes, there will be a love interest in both stories, too. 

How have I been planning?
  • large A1 sheets/spidergrams
  • coloured post-its and pens
  • coloured post cards for character studies
  • collecting photos of settings, artefacts, characters

One of my fellow 'critters', Catherine, introduced me to 'Ready. Set. Novel!' This is a writer's workbook written the organisers of NaNoWriMo and is designed to help writers through the plotting and planning of a novel prior to writing it. It is full of helpful lists, question and answers for character interviews, brainstorming through character setting and story development. I particularly like the 'what-if?' page. Thinking up scenarios and exploring the stories that may unfold from them has been a great help when thinking up interesting and intriguing hooks in my plot. I most likely won't use all of them but it has fired my imagination. The page on plotting problems has also proved useful. The journey to the climax in the novel, say the writers, will be filled with mini-conflicts. On this page of the journal, we have to list problems that the main character will need to solve before the major conflict or climax. 
I am enjoying plotting my new novel and am loving the exercises and activities in the work book. Some of these are well known and used in many writing classes whereas others give a fresh slant on planning. We all use whatever method works for us, don't we?. 

This week, I also downloadedNina Harrington 's How To Keep Your Pants On . She describes the free course as 'how to outline your romance novel when you are an intuitive writer'. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has to say because like many of you my writing often takes me away from what I had originally planned.

So, please wish me luck as I spent the last week of October planning for NaNoWriMo. I'm already feeling positive about novel number two. I think and hope I've learned a lot from my first and can't wait to get started. 

What about you? How do you plan a novel - or do you? Do you have any tips and advice to make NaNoWriMo easier for me? I'd love it if you shared your ideas. Thanks. :-)

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

Monday 10 October 2016

Diaries, Letters and Journals
I'm busy planning my second novel and surprise, surprise, it's another dual narrative. The stories are set thirty years apart and the mother's is going to be told through her diary entries at the time. I wanted to see how other authors have handled the diary entries, as part of their novels. Did the entries form whole chapters or did they start the main chapters? What was the language like? Were they written in whole sentences? Note form? Was the style conversational?

One of my favourite books is 'One Last Summer' by Catrin Collier. She was inspired to write it when she learned the truth about her maternal family's history through reading her mother's and grandmother's diaries. Although the novel is a work of fiction, it is based on those diaries and spans over sixty years, from the life of grandmother Charlotte to her granddaughter, Laura, who is a journalist. It is told in modern times with the past recounted when Charlotte re-reads her diary entries. Through these, we enter her world in East Prussia in 1939 and learn of her history. I'm re-reading the book but this time noting more about the structure and the way the author has used the diary entries. 

I asked on Twitter if anyone could recommend any dual narratives with diaries or letters forming one of the stories. Carol Bevitt kindly replied almost immediately recommending that I Googled 'epistolary fiction'. I have to admit I didn't know what that was but could work it out from its link with 'epistle'.
An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used.
Here is a List of Contemporary Epistolary Novels on Wikipedia. This was useful because I recognised a number of titles and it listed the format together with any comments about each title there. So, a big thank you, Carol! 

Another helpful reply came from Beatrice Charles. She recommended looking at '84 Charing Cross Road'The book is a true story of the love affair between Miss Helene Hanff of New York and Messrs. marks and Co. sellers of rare and secondhand books at 84, Charing Cross Road, London. It is told in a series of letters and then in diary form in the second part 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street'.

Susannah Bavin recommended 'The Italian House' by Teresa Crane. She explained that it wasn't exactly a dual narrative but it does contain diaries from previous generations. The heroine reads these and they feed into the heroine's own situation. She describes it as 'A superb book - full of atmosphere and a wonderful sense of place.'

How can I not be drawn to that? I've read more about it and love the atmospheric cover. Definitely on my To Read pile, I think. Thank you, Sue. 

Can you recommend any novels with diary entries included as part of the narrative? I'd love it if you commented and let me know. Thanks. :-)

Once I have my list, I shall spend an afternoon at my local library researching how the diary format was handled and which one suits my 1975 story best. 

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

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Tenby Book Fair - What the Publishers Have to Say

On Saturday, I went to one of my favourite towns for Tenby Book Fair. This year I was accompanied by my writing buddy, Helen. It was lovely to have company, not least for all the calories we consumed over the day! We got there early and had coffee and tea cakes before going in. We slipped out when there was a break in between the talks to have a delicious lunch and finally topped the day off with another coffee and more cakes before the journey home. :-)

Photo courtesy of Juliet Greenwood
When we got to the hall, it was good to see lots of people already browsing at the authors' tables and chatting about their books. Please click HERE for a full list of the authors who were present. It was good to meet up with authors I already knew and to meet new writers, too. 

Photo courtesy of Wendy White

Photo courtesy of Wendy 

I'd blogged about the fair a few weeks ago so I thought you may be interested in the talks Helen and I went to. We'd had to pre-book them and the two I found particularly interesting were the ones given by the editors of two Welsh publishers.

The first was given by Janet Thomas, editor at Firefly Press. Set up in 2013, Firefly is an independent children's and YA publisher based in Wales. It publishes quality fiction for 5-19 year olds. Janet advised on the submission process and gave us an insight into what writing she was looking for. She stressed how important it was that the sample sent in reflects the quality of the book. What is special about the story must be in that extract. Perhaps the story takes a new look at a subject that's already popular with the young readers. It's often the subject matter that makes a connection with the child. They may not know the author but they like what the book is about. Janet stressed the importance of keeping to the publishers' guidelines and making sure the synopsis includes the ending. She provided us with a very helpful pack of information about writing for children, including the specific requirements for each age group from Picture Books to Teen/Young Adult.
Photo courtesy of Juliet 
Here is Janet manning the Firefly table with two of her authors, Sharon Marie Jones and Eloise Williams.

Caroline Oakley, Commissioning Editor at Honno, opened her talk by giving us the background to the independent co-operative press based in Aberystwyth. Run by women, it is committed to publishing the best in Welsh women's writing. It was established in 1986 by four feminist women at a meeting in a flat in Cardiff. They wanted to increase the opportunities for Welsh women in publishing and bring Welsh women's writing to a wider public. They established a co-operative and sold shares in the company. Honno celebrated its 30th birthday at party In Aber on September 17th, the press having gone from strength to strength and becoming well established. It publishes a full range of genres and over the years both the press and its titles have won many awards.

Even though all the details for submission are found on the Honno website, Caroline gave some helpful pointers for submitting in general:

  • ensure you do your research, identifying your target audience, your novel's genre and other writers in that genre and who they are published by
  • find the name of the editor/literary agent
  • send the publisher/agent what s/he has asked for, keeping strictly to the guidelines
  • Honno asks for a 50 page sample
  • the covering letter needs to be short, simple and matter of fact with no life story, no saying you've written the next best seller
  • a brief description of why you've chosen to submit to that particular publisher
  • only relevant writing experience
  • synopsis - the plot and the role the characters play in it, where the story is going and what happens in the end. It should be clear what genre the novel belongs to from the synopsis which should be short and no longer than two sides. 
What is Caroline looking for?
  • readability, an interesting compelling voice
  • something new or new facets/twists on a theme
  • a gripping plot or narrative, intriguing characters
Photo courtesy of Juliet
One such book is Juliet Greenwood's third novel, 'The White Camellia', published recently by Honno on September 15th. The cover is stunning and from the pages I've read so far, it promises to be another excellent read from Juliet.
Helen and I returned from the fair enthused. It was an excellent day and huge thanks are due to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore whose hard work ensured it was such a success.

Thank you for reading. Have you been to an literary event where publishers gave advice on submissions and explained what they are currently looking for? If so, I'd love it if you could leave a comment and share what they had to say. Thanks. :-)

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

Monday 19 September 2016

Crete - the island
This week we returned from a wonderful two week holiday in Crete. It's the first time we've ever returned to the same resort, never mind the same hotel, and everything was just as good. When I was there two years ago, I was introduced to the writing of Victoria Hislop and read 'The Island' which she set in Crete and I mentioned it in my blog when I returned. The story is set both in the present day  and in the 1930s and is about the leper colony on the island of Spinalonga where all Greek lepers were housed until it closed in 1957. It's a tragic tale of four generations of Petrakis women whose lives are affected by leprosy. I can remember how the book came alive as I was actually on the island when I was reading it. The landscape, the food and drink in the tavernas and observing the local people all added to my experience when reading it.

This time, we visited Spinalonga and learned more about the leper community that lived there. The first view we had of the island with its Venetian fort was from the boat after leaving Elounda. Its pale stone walls stood in stark contrast to the vivid turquoise of the sea. 

What occurred to me was how close it seemed to the village of Plaka where the Petrakis family lived in Victoria Hislop's novel. As we walked up from the jetty, I was struck by the solemnity of the place as we entered the tunnel described in 'The Island'. 'Just about head height...it was a tiny opening in the pale expanse of stonework...the way into a long tunnel which curved away to block the view of what lay ahead at its far end.' 

The scene confronting us when we came out the other side was just how Hislop had described the now semi-derelict streets and buildings, once typical of any Cretan village. As we walked around Spinalonga, it was as if we were re-reading the pages of the novel. 

Our guide, Johanna, was very knowledgeable and gave us so much information about the island. She did mention the novel but almost dismissed it as 'just a romance', what ever that meant. But for me, the setting of the book is an essential part of the story and as I was listening to Johanna telling us the facts it was obvious that the author had done her research thoroughly before writing 'The Island'.

Another place we visited was the Chromonastiri Military Museum, up in the hills above Rethymnon. The interesting exhibits chart the whole range of the island's military history, especially the World War II Battle of Crete. I was struck by the sense of calm there and the way the horrors suffered by the brave Cretan people were depicted in a non-sensational manner. 

As I read about the strong resistance movement in Crete, I was reminded of Leah Fleming's excellent book, 'The Girl Under the Olive Tree'. Although a work of fiction, she has captured so well Crete in 1941, its landscape and why the Cretans fought for their land the way they did. We travelled to the museum through stunning scenery and I was conscious of how those hills hold so much history. The Cretan people would rather have hidden in freezing caves and risk death by cold and starvation than surrender. When Penelope, the main character, returns to the island for the sixtieth anniversary of the battle, she knows she will have to face her past and the extraordinary life she led on the island during that time.

The setting in both these books plays a very important part and visiting the places mentioned has added an extra dimension to my reading.

Have you enjoyed a book recently where the setting has played a vital role and enhanced your enjoyment? I'd love it if you left a comment and recommend some good reads. :-)

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

Monday 22 August 2016

Guest Interview With Sam Carrington
Today, I’m delighted to be chatting to my on-line friend and author, Sam Carrington. Sam’s debut novel, Saving Sophie', was published by Avon Books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers on Friday 12th August and I’m very pleased to welcome her onto the blog to talk about the book.

Welcome, Sam. We haven’t met in person but I feel I ‘know’ you from your support on Twitter, Facebook and, of course, this blog. I’ve followed your writing journey with interest and now it’s happened. Your debut novel is out there - huge congratulations! Perhaps you’d like to introduce yourself and tell us a little about your writing.

Hello, Jan – thanks for having me on your blog!
I was pretty late to the writing game really – I was 38 when I began writing short stories, and I had some success with a few of them being published in women’s magazines and anthologies. But it was always novels that I really wanted to write, so at the end of 2013 I’d made up my mind to start! I began my first novel (which is now ‘in a drawer’ as they say) in January 2014. By the end of that year, I was thinking about the next. The early version of this second novel was long listed in the 2015 CWA Debut Dagger award, and became 'Saving Sophie'.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write ‘Saving Sophie’?
Well, I had various ideas before settling on the topic and main themes for 'Saving Sophie' - having worked in a prison I’m not short of those, but everything was in note-form. Then inspiration came unexpectedly, from a source close to home! A particular ‘incident’ left me with many ‘what if?’ questions, and so I used these to form the basis of 'Saving Sophie’s plot. I believe, as a parent, some fears are universal and I wanted to explore the mother-daughter relationship when it’s put under pressure, as well as think about how teenagers can often hide an awful lot from their parents!

Before I read a word of the book, the cover drew me in. The image of a solitary girl behind the mesh of metal fencing set my mind racing with so many possibilities about her situation. How much say did you have in the cover design?
I was sent a few mock-ups of the cover by the publisher and asked my thoughts. It’s a very strange feeling to see how your story, the themes and characters are translated into pictures or art work. I was thrilled with the cover, although I had one reservation. This was discussed, and the picture tweaked. So I was involved a bit, which was lovely, and unexpected actually – I hadn’t thought I would have any say in the finished cover. I loved the colours – which again underwent a few changes – and I think the overall look they’ve gone with is very striking. The e-book and paperback editions are slightly different – the font colour for e-book is a bright pink, whereas the font on the paperback will be a hot coral pantone. I’m very excited to see how that looks.

‘Saving Sophie’ is both disturbing and gripping, staying with me long after I’d finished reading it. 
That’s lovely to hear, Jan! What more could an author ask for?

When the story opens with a murder and later when a body is found, did you know then how each of the characters would react or were they developed as you got further into the writing of the novel?
I had vague ideas of how I thought each character would respond to the devastation that unfolded. But, having said that, as I was writing – and particularly with the emotional scenes – I did kind of ‘go with the flow’ a number of times. I’m hoping that the reactions, the character’s inner turmoil and their interactions with each other, therefore, come across more naturally.

The reason I ask that is that you seem to get right inside the heads of your characters, especially Karen and her daughter, Sophie. How has your study of psychology and your work in prison enabled you to explore their inner thoughts and emotions?
Firstly, as a mum, I think that the worries, fears and reactions Karen experienced were easier to bring to life – after all, I share many of those fears! But I believe that through my work, firstly as a nurse, then as an offending behaviour programme facilitator in the prison, I have come across many emotional and challenging situations and I have been privy to a lot of people’s most vulnerable moments. So I have a wide range of experience dealing with the fallout of illness, death, crime and of managing the many emotions which surround these. All of this, I believe, supports my writing.

Because it’s a crime novel, the role of the police, DI Lindsay Wade and DS Mack, is there throughout the book, obviously, but it seems to be secondary to the relationship of Karen and Sophie who are the first to solve the crime. Is there a reason for this?
I didn’t ever want 'Saving Sophie' to be a police procedural novel, so the decision that they should take a back-seat was there from the outset. I felt it was important to have this ordinary-seeming family central to the story and have the police there as support characters, rather than main ones. I do use DI Lindsay Wade as one of the main viewpoints; she has some of her own chapters, but again, this is really to give a taste of who she is as the police investigation obviously plays an integral role in the overall story. The most important relationship I wanted to get across was the mother-daughter one.

I believe you’re writing a second novel, Sam. Can you tell us what it’s about? How much planning has it involved so far?
The next novel introduces forensic psychologist, Connie Summers. There is more from DI Wade and DS Mack in this novel, although again, the focus is more on Connie and her client, Steph, who is under the protected persons scheme. Old family secrets, guilt and revenge are the key themes in this novel. Ultimately, though, it’s about how one action or behaviour can have far reaching implications for others – like the butterfly effect, and about seeking justice for those who’ve been wronged.

Although I have a clear vision, detailed plans and have been working ‘behind-the-scenes’ on character biographies and sub-plots for some months, the actual writing of book two has slowed. The publishing of 'Saving Sophie' came much sooner than I’d anticipated, so it rather took a back seat! I’m looking forward to getting back into writing though, and am hoping to hit the deadline…!

Finally, what is the biggest compliment you could have for writing ‘Saving Sophie’?
The best compliment would be hearing that someone has read and enjoyed the novel and taken something away from it. And hopefully that it will be remembered!

Thank you so much for taking the time out to chat to me, Sam. I wish you loads of good luck with your book, both as an e-book and again when it’s published as a paperback in December. 

‘Saving Sophie’ is published by Avon/Harper Collins Publishers www.harpercollins.co.uk 

Here are the links to buying the book and finding out more about Sam:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Saving-Sophie-gripping-psychological-brilliant-ebook/dp/B01DT37C1O

Blog: http://samcarrington.blogspot.co.uk/

Sam Carrington Writer Facebook page: //www.facebook.com/samcarringtonauthor/

Rating: 5*
This novel had me gripped from the moment I read the disturbing prologue through to the shocking conclusion. I couldn’t put it down and kept thinking about it long after I’d finished it. A teenage girl arrives home drunk and is unable to remember anything about the evening out she’s just had with friends. We soon learn that another girl has gone missing and from then on, the twists and turns of the story make it compelling reading. Sam has a wonderful knack of delving deep into the psyche of the main characters and the relationship between Karen Finch, who has agoraphobia, and her daughter, Sophie, is particularly well done. By telling the story from both their viewpoints, more relationships and subplots are explored to keep the reader turning the pages to find out their secrets. The use of social media plays an integral part in the novel and its possibilities for both good and, most definitely, for evil are played out to perfection. ‘Saving Sophie’ is fast paced, well written with an excellent twist at the end and I can’t recommend it highly enough. An exciting debut!

Thank you for reading my interview with Sam. I couldn't put 'Saving Sophie' down. What makes you keep turning the pages? 

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

*** There will be no blog posts from me for a few weeks as I leave for two weeks in Crete next weekend. I'm trying to tell myself it's research for my next novel which is set in Greece. ;-)