Monday 29 March 2021

 Guest Post with Claire Sheldon

Today, I’m delighted to be chatting to fellow Ruby Fiction author, Claire Sheldon. Claire’s debut crime novel, Perfect Lie, came out in June 2020 and her second book, A Silent Childwas published on March 23rd.

Welcome, Claire. We haven’t met in person but I feel I ‘know’ you from being part of the same publishing family and your support on Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps you’d like to introduce yourself and tell us a little about your writing journey. 

My writing journey started in 2016 when my work hours were cut due to my failing health and I joined an adult education creative writing course. After a lot of highs and lows, my debut novel was published four years later! I like to say by day I work in insolvency insurance and by night I’m an author.

Your books are part of a series, The Lisa Carter Files. Can you explain the link between the books?

My publisher wanted to call the series something so people would easily know that A Silent Child is in the same series as Perfect Lie and any future books will also be linked that way. For example, Angela Marson’s books are all known for being part of the detective Kim Stone series. My books are all being linked by Lisa Carter who is my main character Jen Garner’s alter ego.   

 What inspired you to write A Silent Child?

A Silent Child follows on from the revelations in Perfect Lie about Jen’s past and her alter ego,
Lisa Carter. 
It was born out of the question of what would happen if a child was found wandering the street asking for someone but no one knows who this person is and they can’t be traced. In A Silent Child, there is one person who knows who Lisa Carter is but what does DI Jackson do? Go to Jen and ask for help or deny all knowledge? Then there’s Jen's dilemma. She almost lost her family in Perfect Lie, can she risk it all again? Can either character live with themselves if they did nothing? But nothing is ever straightforward…

Before I read a word of the A Silent Child, the cover drew me in. What were your thoughts when you saw the cover for the first time? 

Mikel is a very central part of the story so it was important that he appeared on the front cover in some form. My brilliant book cover artist tried various scenes of a child alone on the street as that is what Mikel is at the start of the novel and this one was chosen by the fantastic stars.

Perfect Lie has received well-deserved, excellent reviews. Have those had an impact on your feelings pre-publication of a second novel?

To be honest, I really don’t know how I feel. There were so many highs and lows getting Perfect Lie out into the world and A Silent Child has been pretty much plain sailing. I think I am more scared that my readers are suddenly going to realise that I’m not as good as they think I am and Perfect Lie was a one-hit-wonder. So if I don’t get as excited and do as much bouncing off walls if it all falls through it won’t be the end of the world and the low won’t be as bad. What is it that Will Young sings in that song “If I lose the highs, at least I’ll accept the lows”?

They won't think that, Claire, but I can remember having similar thoughts about readers' expectations of novel two. 

How much planning do you do for your novels?

I am fast discovering that planning is a good idea. Perfect Lie was written flying by the seat of my pants and a lot of work was done to it before it reached Choc Lit. A Silent Child wasn’t so when it came to the edits, I had a lot of work to do on it and a lot of re-shaping of the storyline. Also, a lot of the inspiration for both books came from being at work. I used to be renewing “bonds” and get ideas and inspiration. With spending the past year at home, things haven’t been coming to be as easy!

Are any of your characters based on real people?

A lot of the names in the book come from people I know Nikki Hayward exists in real life, George Curtis comes from another former work colleague, Christine Curtis. I also work with an Adam, James and Tim which was really funny when I heard the audio for the first time. The first line Adam says is “What the f___” which I found really funny seeing as Adam is my boss in real life. One of the teaching assistants at my child’s school is called Mrs. Littlefair, so I had to speak to her about using her surname as I didn’t want her to pick up the book and see I’ve used her surname and Hannah Littlefair is a bit of a minx. This means I am now starting to struggle with names, having almost used everyone's names that I know. 

Is there going to be a Lisa Carter Files Book 3 and if so, when will it be out?

Yes, it’s in progress, or not as it seems. I had big dreams of getting a book out every six months. But I think it's going to be more like yearly so all being well 2022 if not before…

Finally, what is the biggest compliment you could have for writing ‘A Silent Child’?

It's as good if not better than Perfect Lie.

Thank you, Claire. I wish you good luck with your new novel and hope the sales will soar for you.


Claire lives in Nottingham with her family, a cat called Whiskers and a dog called Podrick. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and as a result of the disease had to reduce her hours working in insurance for an Insolvency Insurer. This spare time enabled her to study a creative writing course which inspired her to write her debut, Perfect Lie.
When Claire isn't working she enjoys reading crime novels and listening to music - the band Jimmy Eat World is her biggest muse! Claire is also an avid reader and book blogger. The inspiration for her novels comes from the hours spent watching The Bill with her grandparents and auntie; then later, Spooks and other detective programmes like Morse, A Touch of Frost and Midsummer Murders.


To buy the book -

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Thank you for reading. As a writer, do you relate to Claire's concerns about how your next book will be received by readers? What are the advantages (or otherwise) of writing a series with a central character? As a reader, what are your thoughts on reading a series?

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

Monday 1 March 2021

 St David's Day - Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus

As the patron saint of Wales, St David's
 Day is celebrated every year in Wales on March 1st in commemoration of the day he died in 589 AD.  Daffodils and leeks are worn, pans of lamb cawl prepared and Welsh cakes are made; the famous red dragon flag is flown. In Wales, foundation phase children (three to seven-year-olds) returned to school last Monday after being in lockdown since before Christmas but as they are the only ones to have returned, celebrations in schools will be a bit different this year. Usually, the day is a day of parades, concerts and eisteddfodau. These are festivals of music, language and culture. Pupils attend school in national costume. My little grandson is in Reception. Today, he wore his red Welsh jersey and had dragon wings. He was going to be making Welsh cakes in class with his teacher.

My novels are always set in Wales. You will find references to the Welsh food and the landscape as well as a smattering of Welsh words used in everyday life. 

In Her Mother's Secret, there is a scene where Alexandra visits her nan, Sadie, when she is making Welsh cakes.

'I watched Nan grease the griddle and once it was hot enough, she turned the heat down, placing a creamy white circle down carefully. It took me back to the times when she'd let Claire and me cook them, telling us to wait for the sugar to turn transparent as the sign we should turn them over with the flat palette knife... She piled the cooked Welsh cakes onto the rack and filled the griddle with more to cook.'

In Her Sister's Secret, as well as references to Welsh cakes, Violet Howells cooks cawl for her family.

'Your mam makes a tasty cawl, cariad. Uses up plenty of my ol' leeks even if we can only get scrag end of lamb from Sid the Meat these days. Any more going, Violet?' 

Music plays an important place in the family, too. 

"Here, give her to me," said her mother. She began singing Suo Gan and cwtched the baby back to sleep. Rose remembered her mother singing the very same Welsh lullaby to Harri. "It always works." Her mother smiled.

Suo Gan - boy soprano, Cai Thomas, accompanied by the harp

In novel three, when Clara returns home from her university placement in Normandy, she reflects on the mid-Wales landscape she missed so much. 

'Driving back from Glaswen, I was struck by the beauty of the Radnorshire countryside. Hedges were becoming greener as new growth appeared on the stems and fields appeared like a patchwork quilt of every hue of green. Lush and verdant, the landscape glowed in the afternoon sunshine.'

Although in all three novels my characters spend time in Greece, Sicily and Northern France respectively, it is Wales they call home. Being born and brought up in mid-Wales like me, they are Welsh through and through. They would be celebrating their Saint David's day today wherever they were in the world, I'm sure.

Thank you for reading. Writers, is the area where you were born reflected in your novels? Readers, do you like to read novels set in the area where you're from? 

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