The Stories She Tells is the third novel by L K Chapman, published in October 2017 and available in ebook and paperback. I’m delighted to welcome Louise to the blog with a guest post which is rather different. Not only an extract but also a interview between two of the book’s characters. But firstly here’s a little about the book
| About the Book |
When Michael decides to track down ex-girlfriend Rae who disappeared ten years ago while pregnant with his baby, he knows it could change his life forever. His search for her takes unexpected turns as he unearths multiple changes of identity and a childhood she tried to pretend never happened, but nothing could prepare him for what awaits when he finally finds her.
Appearing to be happily married with a brand new baby daughter, Rae is cagey about what happened to Michael’s child and starts to say alarming things- that her husband is trying to force her to give up her new baby for adoption, that he’s attempting to undermine the bond between her and her child, and deliberately making her doubt her own sanity.
As Michael is drawn in deeper to her disturbing claims he begins to doubt the truth of what she is saying. But is she really making it all up, or is there a shocking and heartbreaking secret at the root of the stories she tells?
The Stories She Tells character Sally Cornish talks about herself and her observations of mysterious main character “Rae” – who she knows as Tamsin.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name’s Sally, I’m fifty-nine and married with four grown-up sons. For the past seven or eight years I’ve worked as a housekeeper for Paul and Tamsin Quinnell – which is quite a job, let me tell you! No two days are ever the same.
What did you think when you first met Tamsin and Paul?
I remember thinking how young Tamsin seemed, and that Paul was quite protective of her. I must admit I did wonder about her motivations – being married to a man so much older than her, and a wealthy man at that – but once I started working for them it was clear they have very deep feelings for each other. When Paul goes away on business trips Tamsin becomes quite distraught – she seems very afraid of being abandoned.
Do you get along well with Tamsin and Paul?
On the whole, yes. Tamsin is very unusual, but there’s something about her that’s quite appealing too. Not long after I started working at their house Tamsin asked me if I had four sons because I kept trying for a daughter. It was such a blunt question but she asked it so innocently that it really made me laugh. She says a lot of things like that. Some people would probably hate it, but I’m not easily offended. It’s harder when she talks about personal things like intimate details of her and Paul’s relationship, and sometimes she gets upset about things for seemingly no reason, so I try to be careful around her.
You must have seen and heard all sorts of things during your time as Tamsin and Paul’s housekeeper.
Actually, they keep themselves very much to themselves. They have almost nothing to do with friends and relatives – pretty much no one visits the house, and they’re a very private couple on the whole. Of course I’ve heard them have the odd disagreement, but they never seem to have bad arguments. I get the impression that there was something bad about Tamsin’s childhood, and that Paul doesn’t ever want it brought up.
How did the arrival of a baby affect the family?
It’s made things more tense, that’s for sure. I try to help out as much as I can – I love babies and children and it’s a joy to come to work and see Tamsin and Paul’s little girl, but it seems as though the baby doesn’t make them very happy. I’m sure it’ll work itself out though – I tell Tamsin that it’s hard for any couple in the early days – a very big adjustment, especially when it’s just been the two of you for a long time. Tamsin does seem to find it a real struggle though – just keeping on top of the practical things to do with looking after a baby seems to be an uphill battle for her – it’s hard to watch sometimes.
Extract from The Stories She Tells
Sally went upstairs slowly. She wasn’t sure where Tamsin was, and she didn’t want to startle her by bursting in where she wasn’t welcome. She felt sorry for her, and for Paul, because it was obvious what a great strain the baby was putting on the family. Ever since Tamsin had been pregnant, it was like a kind of sickness had spread through the house. Sickness was an odd word for it, she knew, but it was the most accurate one she could think of. When she reached the top of the stairs, she found Tamsin sitting on the window seat on the landing, her legs crossed, staring straight ahead. Sally sat down next to her. ‘I’ve had four boys,’ Sally said, ‘so believe me, I know a little bit about what you’re going through.’
Tamsin turned to face her. ‘Did your boys scream when you came in the room?’ she asked. ‘Did people stare at you when you were out because the boys were crying but you never seemed to have brought with you what they need, and you think it’s a one-off but it happens over and over and over and all anyone can say is that it’s in your head?’
Sally took a deep breath. ‘Tamsin―’
‘They didn’t, did they Sally?’ Tamsin said, ‘because you were just… just able to do it. But I can’t.’
‘Well, you are. You’re doing it. And Madeline is a happy baby.’
‘Is she? Sometimes I feel she’d be better off without me. Sometimes… sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.’
Sally was silent for a moment as she considered how to respond. ‘Tamsin,’ she said gently, ‘have you thought of speaking to somebody about this? About how you feel?’
‘I talk to Paul.’
‘I mean someone other than Paul. Your GP, or your health visitor. Or… other mums, maybe?’
Tamsin ran her fingers through her hair, seeming calmer all of a sudden. ‘They’ll say I’m mad. People always do.’
Sally patted Tamsin’s hand. She didn’t know all the ins and outs of it, and she didn’t like to make assumptions, but she was fairly sure that even before the baby, all had not been well with Tamsin. It was as though there were many different Tamsins, and negotiating the unwritten laws of how to communicate with her in each of her moods was difficult, if not impossible.
| About the Author |
Louise Katherine Chapman was born in Somerset, UK, in 1986. She studied psychology at the University of Southampton and has worked as a psychologist creating personality questionnaires for a consultancy company. She has also spent some time volunteering for mental health charity Mind.
Chapman’s first novel, Networked, was a sci-fi thriller but now she’s turned her attention to writing psychological suspense. She lives in Hampshire with her husband and young family, and enjoys walks in the woods, video games, and spending time with family and friends.