I suppose how I feel about secrets can be summed up in two simple words: survival and shame. I realise of course there are times when keeping a secret is probably a good thing:

Louise Sharland, My Husband's Secrets

Louise Sharland, My Husband's Secrets

‘Does my bum look big in this?’

‘Oh course not babes, you look fab!’

But as the child of alcoholics the keeping of secrets was both essential to my survival and a cause of great shame. Hurriedly shutting the windows so the neighbours couldn’t hear a particularly violent row between my parents, or trying to explain away their drunken behaviour, became an almost daily occurrence, and one that had deep implications. It also, however, provided me with enormous insight into human behaviour. This is where I think my interest in writing psychological suspense and crime came from.

During a recent creative writing session with film students at Plymouth College of Art, I briefly mentioned my sometimes-difficult childhood, and the fact that because of it, I understand threat - implied, potential, and actual threat, all if which is reflected in my fiction writing. Along with an acute hypervigilance, I can often read people and situations to an almost forensic degree, anticipating triggers, danger, and risk. I often wonder if that’s why I write persuasively about it, and why my writing often explores the deeper emotional implications of secrets, as well as the damaging fallout they create.

In my current novel My Husband’s Secrets (released by Avon books on the 26th of May), everyone has a secret. They are definitely kept because of survival and shame, and the implications are catastrophic. Ali, the successful self-made businesswoman, keeps them from others, but most of all from herself, while her daughter Emma, best friend Liz, and Liz’s husband Dane, are so weighed down with them that they seemed either trapped in a self-defeating inertia or desperate hyper-activity. Most of all, it’s Matthew, Ali’s missing husband, whose secrets begin to unfold like the petals of Deadly Nightshade, that brings everything crashing down around them all.

I’m glad to say that my personal experiences of secrets have been resolved and that I have moved on, but for the characters in My Husband’s Secrets, it’s another story all together. When considering the plights of Ali, Emma, Liz, Dane, and especially Matthew, I can only think of this quote by James Joyce in his novel Ulysses, ‘Secrets, silent, stony, sit in the dark palaces in…our hearts.’