New Release: Baby Up the Chimney by Claire Ladds

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I would like to extend my thanks to Emma for hosting me on her blog. I’ve popped in to talk about my latest novel, Baby up the Chimney, which is released today!

The novel crosses over genres: it is set on one day in 1971, but the backstories of the characters span fifty years before that; it is an incredibly emotive book of mother-daughter relationships, love and loss; it’s also a book of moral dilemma and secret, unbearable crimes. It took me down a lot of research rabbit holes – from feminist activism and the Women’s Liberation march, to the process of taxidermy, to Hitler’s eugenics program, and a whole lot of other stuff in between!

One day. That’s all it takes for four lives to be changed forever.

London, 6th March 1971. Women pour into London to take to the streets in solidarity for equal pay and equal rights. But while public spectacle and a friendly call to arms pervades the day, in private, one family is about to find that everything they thought was the truth about their loved ones has the potential to blow their world apart. And one man, back from the dead, has unfinished business with them… A novel of dark secrets, lies, betrayal and vengeance, in which the shadows of history, haunting memories and the truths they dare not tell come back to try and destroy them.

When the truth is not what you thought it was, do you ignore it? Do you try to rewrite history to protect those you love? Or do you seek revenge?

You might get an inkling from the blurb that I love stories that centre around secrets and crimes. I’ve always loved crime fiction since I was a young girl, and I often write stories which explore the darker side of humanity, especially motivations and emotions. In this book, I wanted to explore how crimes and the secrets we keep impact our lives and our relationships long into the future. Just what it would take to push my characters to their own personal limits?

This book began as a short story a decade ago. One of the characters obsessed over a man she never got over, and I found myself doing the same with the character and her family! Each person in the story must have their own tale to tell, their own version of the truth. This is what I set out to tell, because no one knows our own ‘truth’ in the way we do.

‘Life and fiction are entwined. One models itself on the other. Which is real, then?’

What if your ‘truth’ was based on fiction? What if all you wanted was to live out the story you have read and your real life becomes a ghastly re-enactment of a twisted obsession with a book? Or worse – of someone else’s twisted obsession to finish the story? This idea intrigued me, particularly as I have a particular obsession of my own with the Brontës. So I decided to pay homage to the two books that were the most influential on my teenage life, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, as I create a living hell for the people living out their lives in my fiction.

In a review for a previous book, I was dubbed, ‘Mistress of Melancholy’. Yep, that sounds spot-on for the undertone of my work, and it certainly fits well with the questions I asked myself when I began Baby up the Chimney, and which stayed with me throughout: How far would you go to protect the one you love? When you discover the truth isn’t what you thought it was, what exactly do you do about it? And do all people in a story get the ending they deserve? Everyone in the book wants the ending that’s important to them, whether it’s a love story from fiction, the revival of a relationship, complete protection of their loved ones, or revenge and utter annihilation of their enemy. Deciding whether they get the endings I wanted them to have has caused me trouble for ten years!

I’ll leave you with the words of two of my characters, Julia and Alex. They get to the heart of the book better than I ever could:

‘…isn’t a happy ending what people want? No matter what happens before, it’s the ending they’re after. Something enduring. Because…’ Her eyes glazed with tears. ‘…Because there has to be more to life than just misery, pain and suffering.’

‘Life isn’t always so simple, though. You must know that.’

Book Details

Baby Up the Chimney by Claire LaddsTitle: Baby up the Chimney
Author: Claire Ladds
Publication Date: 21st August 2020
Synopsis:

One day. That’s all it takes for four lives to be changed forever.

London, 6th March 1971. Women pour into London to take to the streets in solidarity for equal pay and equal rights. But while public spectacle and a friendly call to arms pervades the day, in private, one family is about to find that everything they thought was the truth about their loved ones has the potential to blow their world apart. And one man, back from the dead, has unfinished business with them…

A novel of dark secrets, lies, betrayal and vengeance, in which the shadows of history, haunting memories and the truths they dare not tell come back to try and destroy them.

When the truth is not what you thought it was, do you ignore it? Do you try to rewrite history to protect those you love? Or do you seek revenge?

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