Kerry has spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candis magazine reviewing other people's but it wasn't until she took some online courses with the UCLA (University of California) that the dream started to morph into reality, culminating in the publishing of The Class Ceiling. The Avon imprint of HarperCollins picked it up and retitled it The School Gate Survival Guide, published summer 2014. Her second book, The Island Escape, came out in May 2015. It won first prize at the York Festival of Writing for the opening line: 'I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell'. After The Lie, is the story of how small lies become more toxic as they pass down the generations.
Her latest book The Silent Wife asks if you would risk everything for the man you loved? Even if you knew he'd done something terrible?
'A heart-wrenching and gripping tale. I was hooked from the very first page.' Write Escape
Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything he has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.
Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. Then one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?
For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.
A heart-wrenching, emotionally gripping read for fans of Amanda Prowse, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.
We'd like to thank Kerry for taking part in A Conversation and wish her much success with her future writing and all her books.
Tell us of your journey as a writer
I wrote three books over five years with lots of ‘nearly but not quite’ rejections from agents. After the third book I didn’t have the energy to write another book with an uncertain future so I self-published. I was extremely lucky that I managed to prove there was an audience for the books I wanted to write and my debut was picked up by HarperCollins. It was republished as The School Gate Survival Guide, followed by The Island Escape a year later. I’m now just finishing my fifth novel, published by Bookouture.
How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?
I see my role primarily as entertaining people, though I’ve dealt with some themes – domestic abuse in The Silent Wife and keeping a secret from your family in After The Lie – that seem to have really resonated with some readers. I’ve had some incredibly touching letters and I feel very privileged that anything I write might help someone see their situation differently.
Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?
I didn’t like Dorothy in After The Lie. She was so critical of her daughter, Lydia, but in the end, I felt sorry for her. Everything she’d done to try and put the family life back on track after her daughter made a terrible mistake came from a place of love. Her actions were misguided but her intentions were good – she wanted her daughter to be able to move on in life and be happy.
What has been your experience of writing about diverse characters?
I love the diversity that writing affords me. It allows me to explore what it would be like to be really outspoken, to not care what people think, to laugh in the face of disapproval, like the affluent hippy, Clover, in The School Gate Survival Guide. I’ve also enjoyed writing completely buttoned-up characters like Lydia in After The Lie. She’s so busy keeping her secret, she can’t let herself relax or confide in anyone, not even her husband. The absolute antithesis of me – I don’t think I have a single secret someone doesn’t know!
If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?
I wish I could come up with something really exotic but the truth is, I love wild British seaside. I’ve just returned from Pembrokeshire and fantasised about renting a place on the cliffs, overlooking a raging sea, where I could tuck myself away in the winter months and walk among the foxgloves and butterflies in the spring. I found that my brain relaxed amidst the gorgeousness of nature and that’s one of the hardest things when I am writing a book, feeling as though my mind is ‘on’ all the time and never resting.
What is the one book you wish you had written?
I love books that help me see the world differently. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was brilliant because it dealt with racism through the vehicle of humour without trivialising it; in fact, I thought it underlined the message.
What advice do you have for would be novelists/writers?
Where do I start? Probably the most important piece is that you’ll have to believe in yourself long before anyone else does. Keep persevering, keep reading, keep learning. Accept that feedback is part of the process – that it doesn’t stop even once you get published (editors and copy editors), so it’s best get into the mindset of being prepared to listen and weigh up whether there are valid points being made. I see feedback from my editors as something that will improve the final book rather than a criticism. And all comments will prepare you for the reality of Amazon reviews…my favourite one star: ‘I wish I’d saved my money and bought a Twix’.
What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?
I’m working my fifth novel about a woman who gives a baby up for adoption and how that impacts on her relationship with her husband and subsequent children. It’s a story of family secrets, lies and how life can turn on a sixpence with one wrong decision.
Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why?
I loved George in the Famous Five series. She was strong, daring and adventurous (or at least that’s how she appeared to me then). I’ve translated that into a postcard above my desk that says: ‘The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who’s going to stop me.’
The Silent Wife is published by Bookouture
You can follow Kerry on Twitter: @KerryFSwayne