It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Claire Baldry, author of Different Genes to Linda’s Book Bag today, not only to support Claire’s writing and Different Genes in particular, but because Claire does such a lot for charity that I feel she deserves recognition herself.
In today’s guest post, written especially for Linda’s Book Bag, Claire reflects on the how her own life experiences have helped her to create the characters and setting for her debut novel.
Published by Matador, Different Genes is available for purchase here.
Sixty-one year old Louise finally learns she is adopted after the death of her mother. She embarks on a quest to reveal the secrets of her past, helped by new companion and lover, Simon, whom she meets after joining an Internet dating site.
The reader is reminded of the changing values of the post-war years, while Simon and Louise visit places from Louise’s past and meet people who knew her mother and grandmother. Together, they begin to unlock the forgotten secrets of Louise’s past – but in the face of so much change and uncertainty, can Louise let her relationship flourish?
The story is set mainly in the author’s home county of East Sussex, but finishes in Kent, when Louise and Simon finally visit her birth mother’s grave at a convent in Chatham. This journey of discovery is a charming and bittersweet mixture of romance, sadness and genuine suspense.
People and Places
A Guest Post by Claire Baldry
Although the people in Different Genes are entirely fictional, I have used much of my own life experience in the writing of this novel. Both the main characters, Simon and Louise, are in their early sixties and have been married before. They meet on the internet and, as well as embarking on a quest to find out about Louise’s past, their relationship needs to come to terms with their previous experiences in order to thrive.
I am in my early sixties and met my second husband on the internet about fifteen years ago. I well remember the way we each had to adjust our own slightly entrenched values and routines when we finally moved in together. I also think that I have included some of my own character in both Louise and Simon’s personality. I am an ex-teacher, like Louise, with a lot of experience of supporting pupils with challenging behaviour. Without wishing to give too much of the plot away, this is a skill which Louise uses when building a relationship with Simon’s younger son, Oliver. I am also a bit of a control freak, like Simon. In fact, now the book is written I see a lot of myself in him.
As regards the setting, I have only used places which are familiar to me, as I found this helped me to focus my writing. I was born in Bishop’s Stortford, and went to the Herts and Essex School which is mentioned in the novel. I moved to East Sussex in my late twenties, living in Hastings, Bexhill and Brighton and have worked in or visited all of the locations mentioned in the book. I have changed many names of roads or businesses, but most local readers say they recognise the venues.
The secrets of Louise’s past, which cannot be disclosed here, or I will reveal too much of the plot, are not part of my own experience, so required far more research. However, having worked in education for well over thirty years, I have watched the way childhood experiences impact on people’s emotions and behaviour, and this understanding was invaluable in writing the novel. If, having read the book, anyone wants to know more, please feel free to contact me via my website www.clairebaldry.co.uk.
About Claire Baldry
In her hometown of Bexhill on Sea Claire Baldry is known as the local poet. She writes and performs lighthearted ‘Pam Ayres’ style poetry and donates the fees to charity. Her poems sometimes appear in the local paper or on local radio, and she is frequently invited to clubs, such as the WI, to read her work and talk about her writing. Earlier this year Claire and her husband Chris won the Diabetes UK South East Inspire Award for innovative ways of fundraising.
In 2016 Claire fulfilled a lifetime writing ambition and finally completed a novel. She describes it as an ‘easy read’ tale about love in later life, combined with a gripping mystery. The title of the book is Different Genes.
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