Introducing Jan Baynham, Author of Her Mother’s Secret and a worthy Romantic Novelists’ Association contender for the Joan Hessayon Award. #WritersLife #WriterWednesday

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I am so pleased to be talking with Jan Baynham on my blog today. Having known Jan for some years and seen her writing going from strength to strength I was thrilled to hear that she is one of the contenders for the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) 2020 prestigious Joan Hessayon Award for new writers, the award for all the authors whose debut novels have been accepted for publication after passing through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.Before I knew this I’d read, loved, and reviewed her book. This is my review: Her Mother’s Secret.

Her Mother's Secret: The Summer of '69 by [Jan Baynham]

I began by asking Jan what was the inspiration behind Her Mother’s Secret. This is her reply:

I have always been intrigued by family secrets and the fact that these sometimes do not come to light until after a person has died. I read of someone who was sorting through her mother’s things after her death and found a diary. In there, the young woman learned about a part of her mother’s life she knew nothing about. The ‘what ifs?’ started in my head. At the time, I’d been reading a novel where the rustling in the trees sounded like whispers and inanimate statues took on the form of ghosts of the people they represented. Perhaps the whispering could show the presence of a past family member. Always fascinated by the bond between mothers and daughters, this was basis for Her Mother’s Secret. Very often, the close relationship between mothers and daughters means that they would know things about each other no one else would. I wanted to explore how my character, Alexandra, would feel when she found out about her mother, Elin’s secret life. How could her mother have kept this from her? How would she feel? I needed Elin to have been able to keep her secret from everyone, even her own mother, until she died. Did Elin have a conscience when she left her diary to Alexandra?

I decided that Elin would be an artist, having just finished art college. She travels to Greece to further her painting skills and while there, something happens that she never mentions again. I chose a setting where the colours would be more vibrant and intense perhaps than in her home country of Wales. Having visited many times and being struck by the wonderful palette of colours seen in every landscape, Greece was my obvious inspiration. Elin’s daughter, Alexandra, arrives on Péfka, a small island off the Peloponnese in Southern Greece, to follow in her mother’s footsteps to find out what happened there twenty-two years earlier. Péfka is purely fictional and is not based on one particular place; it’s an amalgam of areas I’ve visited – a beach or street here, a taverna or workshop there where I’ve met characters when getting out into Greek villages. Every holiday has inspired me with contributions to create characters and settings that are hopefully authentic showing the climate, the vivid colours of the sea and the flowers as well as the warmth of its people.

Her Mother’s Secret was published in April this year by Ruby Fiction. I’m grateful to the Romantic Novelists’ Association for the role its New Writers’ Scheme played in helping me realise my dream of becoming a published author. The novel was critiqued on two occasions by experienced scheme readers. The first time, I’d submitted a partially written manuscript that was followed by the full manuscript the next year. The helpful and incredibly positive advice I received on both occasions was invaluable and gave me the motivation to submit my novel to publishers. Having ‘graduated’ from being unpublished to published via the scheme, I am eligible to be a proud contender for the 2020 Joan Hessayon Award along with twenty other debut novelists.

Blurb for Her Mother’s Secret:: A secret left behind in the summer of ’69

It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …

Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.

About the author:

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and short listed in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in more depth and delve further into their stories. She writes about family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters. Set in the last year of the ‘60s, Her Mother’s Secret takes you to sun-drenched Greece, her favourite holiday destination.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. She values the friendship and support from other RNA members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of Cariad, her local RNA Chapter.

‘Her Mother’s Secret’ is available on from Amazon:

You may find out more about Jan here:

Twitter: @JanBaynham

Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer


And more exciting news: Well, two pieces of exciting news, really…

Jan is on the Not the Booker long list


Jan’s second book,Her Sister’s Secret: The Summer of ’66, is now available to pre-order:   

  Another wonderful sixties saga from the author of Her Mother’s Secret.

How far would you travel to find the truth?
It’s the 1960s and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city.
Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll.
But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is …

20 thoughts on “Introducing Jan Baynham, Author of Her Mother’s Secret and a worthy Romantic Novelists’ Association contender for the Joan Hessayon Award. #WritersLife #WriterWednesday

  1. Pingback: Introducing Jan Baynham, Author of Her Mother’s Secret and a worthy Romantic Novelists’ Association contender for the Joan Hessayon Award. #WritersLife #WriterWednesday — Judith Barrow – Thorne Moore

  2. Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog, Judith. Thank you, too, for all your support along this journey to publication. I’ve always appreciated our little talks and the valuable advice you’ve given me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Judith, for introducing Jan and her story and inspiration behind writing this book Her Mother’s Secret. It’s true that we often time only learned about a certain person’s secret after the death. It was true to me on the passing of two family members.
    Thank you for your review of Jan’s book and congratulations on Jan of ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ being a contender for the Joan Hessayon award.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And thank you, Miriam, for dropping by. I’m sure Jan will appreciate your lovely comments, as much as I do. family secrets are grist to the mill for us all as authors. I’m keeping fingers crossed for Jana as a contender for the Joan Hessayon award. x

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are,Miriam. Where would we be without those family secrets. And thank you, I’m sure Jan will visit here tomorrow. The only reason I’m here at two fifteen in the morning is because I’m on an editing roll. lol x

        Liked by 1 person

      • The book is called The Heart Stone, Miriam. I’ve gone back to my usual historical family saga (set around WW1 and afterwords). Honno are due to publish it in February 2021. It’s got a lovely cover, different again from the trilogy and prequel. Thanks for asking. I am quite excited. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is good news, Judith. I did a quick check. Honno only publishes for Welsh women. I like this idea of promoting local women. I’ll keep in touch.


      • It is a lovely idea that Honno has, but the remit is quite broad ( which, for me is a good thing – I originate from Yorkshire in the North of England, and, even after forty years in Pembrokeshire in Wales, I haven’t lost the accent – which is quite funny when I’m invited to Lit Fests to talk and people hear me as – a “woman from Wales”) No, this is what Honno say – so, if you have any Welsh ancestry, however vague, you’re in: “Honno’s mission is to publish Welsh women writers – for the purposes of submission to Honno this means that you must be a woman born in Wales or resident in Wales at the time of submission. Honno also publishes titles of exceptional interest to women within Wales from writers who may not meet the first two criteria i.e. that they are female and that they are of Welsh birth or residence.” o, there we go!! It’s a lovely independent press and the authors are a great group of supportive women. I wrote this blog for Honno – every week, each author had their own interview. My great friend Thorne Moore has a book coming out this month – her writing is superb. Now, must go – more editing! jxx


    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Miriam. Finding out about those secrets can have quite startling consequences for the people left behind, can’t they?
      The New Writers’ Scheme has helped so many of us on our way to publication and the award is the RNA’s way of celebrating that.


      • Exactly, Jan. I wish to have known a few family members before they passed so I could find out more. But it wouldn’t happen in “secrets.” Good to have met you.


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