Tuesday 25 August 2020

 On To Novel Two

The edits are done, the cover has been revealed and my second novel, Her Sister's Secret is up for pre-order on Amazon. Publication day is just three weeks today! If I thought it was a nervous time when my debut novel was published back in April, it is nothing compared to how I feel now. I am passionate about the story and why I wanted to tell Rose and Jen's stories. I know my characters really well; I think of them as my friends so why am I feeling the way I do? The reassuring fact is that other writers have told me that they have felt the same with their second novels. 

I was unprepared for the wonderful response I received for Her Mother's Secret through so many reviews and messages. Thank you all. If you remember, I wasn't sure about posting scenes of the fictional Greek island with all the colour, sunshine and photos of a setting reminiscent of holidays when so many people were having to deal with the awful effects of COVID19. Very soon, it was obvious that the novel became an escapist read for people during lockdown. I hadn't written it with escapism in mind but I was more than happy if it helped people deal with the isolation. Naturally, I'm wondering whether my new novel will be viewed as well by readers and how I will deal with things if it's not. There is now a level of expectation that wasn't there for my debut.

It got me thinking about what my novels offer readers and what kind of books they are. I am about a third of the way through writing novel 3. Each one is different, of course, but do they have common elements that readers will come to expect as they get to know my writing? I remember having a conversation about this with an editor at an RNA Conference even though the novels may not fit into a definite genre. Here are some of my thoughts::

- all three books are dual narratives and tell a mother's story and a daughter's
- actions and decisions taken in the mother's story will have consequences for her daughter's story
- the novels deal with relationships in families, especially within three generations, and always explore the unbroken bond between mothers and daughters
- they are character-driven where I hope the reader experiences a whole gamut of emotions 
- there is always a family secret that comes to light as the stories unravel
- there will always be a romantic love interest; sometimes it's the character's first love, often it's a forbidden love because of cultural or social class differences
- all three novels take place in the past. Her Mother's Secret is set most recently in 1969 and 1991 whereas in Her Sister's Secret is set just after WW2 in 1946-7 and in 1965-6. Novel 3 is set in 1940 and 1959.
- all my novels have one section set in a foreign country - Greece, Sicily or Northern France. In the case of Her Mother's Secret, both Elin's and part of Alexandra's stories are set against the backdrop of Greece. Home for my characters is always rural mid-Wales where I was born and brought up but some of the characters travel to other countries to find answers once secrets are revealed. 

The RNA Learning Programme for 2020-21 has just been announced and I have registered for this course. I think it will be useful for me to identify my brand still further. People who've attended  Anna Craig's sessions before have said how good they are and I'm really looking forward to it.

If you do download Her Sister's Secret, (I'd love it if you do!) I hope you will enjoy firstly travelling back with Rose to the years just after the war and then spending time with Jen as she comes to terms with a family secret. Her life is put on hold when she spends the summer of 1966 in Sicily in search of answers.

How far would you travel to find the truth?
It's the 1960s and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city.
Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer's world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure of who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock'n'roll.
But Jennifer's experience with the excesses of sixties' culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she will have to travel further - first to Cardiff, then to Sicily - if she is to find out who she really is...

Thank you for reading. 
If you are a writer, how did you feel when your second novel was about to be published? 
If you are a reader, do you buy books on the strength of an author's previous book? 

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