I’m delighted to welcome fellow Corvus Books author, Holly Seddon, to my website for a Q&A with me. She’s the author of Try not to Breathe and Don’t Close Your Eyes, and has asked me some wonderful questions. Over to Holly:
HS: Firstly, I have to say upfront that I loved this book. I had been a little nervous
going into it. I used to work for an adoption charity and I’m always very sensitive to how adoption is portrayed. It was a huge relief that I could see straight away how sensitively you had handled the subject, and also how rigorous your research must havebeen.
I also loved your depiction of the constant small battles that make up a day with small children, it was pitch perfect. The drip-drip-drip felt so real I nearly cried!
HS: The Stolen Child takes place largely in Ilkey, Yorkshire. The wild moors were the perfect backdrop – and witness – to the drama that unfolds. I know you’re a fan of Emily Bronte but do you have other links with Yorkshire as well?
SK: Thank you for your kind words, Holly! I loved your second thriller, Don’t Close Your Eyes, (which is out now, people!). I love the Brontës, especially Wuthering Heights. From the age of eight I lived on either side of Ilkley Moor, where The Stolen Child is set. I spent my childhood rambling across the moor, often by myself, so I grew to know it pretty well. Now every time I go back to Ilkley, I have to run across the moor, and then I really feel like I’m back home!
HS: You’d obviously researched the realties of modern adoption very thoroughly, how much did your findings surprise you?
SK: As well as reading about adoption, I spoke to one of my friends who’s just adopted a little girl, and I also interviewed an adoption lawyer, who very kindly did some considerable fact-finding on my behalf. What I was most surprised about is that thankfully fewer children are given up for adoption now than in the past, because because there’s less of a stigma against having a baby without being married. Unfortunately, it means that many of the children who are adopted in this country could have been damaged in some way because of addiction or abuse in their biological family.
HS:. Zoe’s challenge to switch between artist and mum, to cram creativity into boxes of time really resonated. Did that come from personal experience?
SK: I think most parents can empathise with trying to balance life, work and being responsible for little people! It’s like – they’re at school/nursery/with Granny/the childminder – GO!!! But I interviewed an artist, Elaine Jones, who has two small children, to find out how she manages to be a mum and a successful painter. I still don’t understand how she does it!
HS:. Do you paint? The references to products and equipment can be researched of course but the understanding of the process of drawing and painting, the sense for the colours and movement, was so authentic I decided you must be a master painter!
SK:That’s so kind of you to say so. I used to paint when I was young, but I don’t have time now (see the life/work/parent problem!). I take photographs, as it’s quicker and you can do it on the go, and I go to art galleries when I can. I interviewed Elaine Jones, an artist who’s work I love (and I’m fortunate enough to own two of her fantastic pictures) to try and get a tiny insight into what it’s like to be a painter.
HS: Without giving anything away, the ending pulled the rug from under me! Did you know the ‘twist’ before you started writing?
SK: That’s good! I hope it surprises other readers too. I did always know what the twist was going to be, but right at the start, when my idea could have fitted on a postcard, I had a brilliant brainstorming session with Sarah Hilary, author of the Detective Marnie Rome series. She gave me the confidence to think of some other twists along the way too.
HS: Bone by Bone and The Stolen Child are set in Bristol and Ilkley, very different places but you show the wildness of both. Is wildlife and especially the countryside important to you?
SK: I’m obsessed with wildlife and nature! I studied zoology at university and I’m fascinated by animal behaviour and evolution. I try and go hiking as often as I can in proper wild places (well, wild but with a pub at the end of the walk!). In fact, my next novel, My Mother’s Secret, is partly set in the Lake District near Scafell Pike. It’s being printed as we speak!
HS: Is there anywhere in the world that you’d love to set a novel?
SK: I’d love to set a novel in New Orleans. It seems like such a vibrant mixture of Gothic voodoo, African history, blues music, urban grittiness and swampy bayou, old school charm and grim brutality. I love films like Angel Heart and the first True Detective series, and, of course, New Orleans has an eclectic literary heritage, from James Lee Burke, Anne Rice, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin to Poppy Zee Brite. Okay, maybe I’d better call the US tourist board?!
Thank you, Holly, lovely talking to you!