- Women’s Fiction
- Coming of Age
I know who you are.
I’ve come to pay you back.
Nobody in Barbara Marsden’s family knows about her past, least of all her daughter Helen. But someone wants the truth to come out.
When Helen discovers a sinister note at Barbara’s house, she can’t understand who would want to threaten her mother. She’s determined to find out who sent it, but soon realises her search might hurt her own family and put Barbara at risk…
| Author Info |
Joanne Sefton lives in Bath with her husband and two children; she is very short and moderately Scottish.
Joanne always wanted to be an author, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Instead, she studied law at Cambridge and enjoyed a prestigious career as an employment law barrister in London before taking time out to move west and complete her MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
As well as gaining a distinction in her MA, Joanne has been long-listed twice for the Bath Novel Award and was once a runner-up in a short story competition which earned her a biro with ‘West Lothian Young Writer’ embossed on it in gold letters.
Alongside her writing, she continues to practice law on a part-time basis and also holds a role as an advisory board member for a social mobility charity. In her spare time she often thinks about going running or gardening and ends up reading books instead (sometimes ones about gardening, so that counts). She has a weakness for fancy-schmancy dining and impractical shoes.
You can follow Joanne on Twitter @Joanne_Sefton or on Facebook @JoanneSeftonAuthor
| Character Spotlight |
- How do your characters begin in your writing process? Do you have an incline for a name or you know how you want them to look?
I tend to have a ‘sense’ of a character. It’s not so specific as a name or a physical description, but more about their personality, attitude and sense of self. As I write more, the idea becomes more physical and I start to get a firmer conviction about what they look like, the sound of their voice and so on.
- How do you choose your names?
With difficulty! Sometimes I get the right name the first time, but often I’ll use a placeholder name until quite late in the drafting process. For some reason, I find it much harder to name male characters than female ones. We seem to have a lot more female names to choose from.
- Which character is your favourite to write?
In this book writing, Barbara was a joy. She is such a complex character, very flawed, but definitely a strong woman.
- Which character is the hardest to write?
I do find writing young children difficult and the voices of the children, particularly Barney, are critical in If They Knew. Readers have very strong opinions on what children would or wouldn’t say or think at a particular age, so you get less leeway!
- Are any of your characters based on a real-life person?
Not at all. I’m very involved in the inner lives of my characters and the only real person whose inner life we can ever know is our own. In that sense, I believe that all fictional characters are reflections of their author, although I’d never act in the way that some of my characters do!
- Lastly, if you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would you pick and why?
I’d definitely pick Barbara. Although her daughter, Helen, is the main character of the book, Barbara is its dramatic focus. There may be fireworks over dinner! There is also a more minor male character who appears later – I can’t really explain his role without giving spoilers – but he was injured in the second world war and has seen most of what life can throw at people, and what people can throw at each other. He’s a little pompous and complacent, but his heart is in the right place. I’d like to hear his stories over port and cheese.
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