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Former divorce lawyer turned bestselling kindle author, Caroline England, talks to Deborah Grace about the inspiration for her new novel Betray Her.

What is your earliest memory?

I can't remember much before I was eight.That's when I went to boarding school, which defined my childhood.I vividly remember being homesick and dreadfully missing my parents.Having fun too, but eight is quite young to be sent away.I was the youngest of five and the others had gone before me.Mum and Dad, who was a solicitor, came from working class backgrounds and they thought they were doing the best thing for us all.Although Betray Her is entirely fictional, my boarding school feelings and experiences, friendships and fears, came very much to the fore again.

How long have you lived in South Manchester?

Ever since I came to Manchester University, as a law student, more than 20 years ago!I'm originally from Sheffield.I lived in student digs in Stretford and Northern Moor.I bought my first house, a tiny little terrace, in Levenshulme.I moved to West Didsbury and finally to Didsbury, where I've lived ever since.

How long have you been writing?

Approximately 15 years.With three young daughters, I took the decision to give up working as a solicitor and have time with the girls.At first I was dabbling and it's only fairly recently that I've taken writing more seriously and treated it as a job. Over the years I had short stories and poems published in various literary publications, but my first novel, Beneath the Skin (also known as The Wife's Secret in eBook), was published by HarperCollins in 2017.My Husband's Lies, which became a kindle top-ten bestseller, followed in 2018.My latest novel, Betray Her (Little, Brown Book Group), is currently available as an eBook.The paperback will be out later this year.HHH

Tell me about your latest novel.

Betray Her is a psychological thriller.Jo and Kate, poles apart in their early upbringing, are drawn together at boarding school to form an unlikely friendship that endures into adulthood. The novel examines this friendship, going back to school, forward into their future and on to the present, gradually revealing that the friendship is not all it seems.Dark secrets are just under the surface, demanding to be finally let out …

How has your legal career influenced your writing?

As a trainee solicitor I worked mainly in criminal law.After that I practised divorce and matrimonial work, then went on to do professional indemnity, representing professionals such as solicitors, accountants and architects, who'd made a mistake - or not - as the case might be.I'm interested in people and the human condition; about how we put on a brave face, but there's all sorts happening in our heads that we don't talk about.Like my legal work, my writing is all to do with issues, frailties and being flawed human beings.

Any literary influences?

I've always loved Roald Dahl's short story collections; books like Kiss Kiss and Switch Bitch, which were turned into Tales of the Unexpected for TV.Spiteful little stories with a real sting in the tail!They were quite racy, too.My copy of Switch Bitch was confiscated at school!I have two short story collections – Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses and Hanged By The Neck – available to buy as a paper copy or eBook on Amazon.They have been described as 'sweetly twisted tales' and they are most certainly influenced by Roald.

Any more novels in the pipeline?

I have a two-book deal with my current publisher Little, Brown, so I'm hoping the second will be published next year.I would also like to see some of my other novels published under a pseudonym.Two of them, waiting patiently on my laptop, are about a feisty, feminist solicitor called Natalie Bach, who happens to work in a fictional Didsbury office …

Any tips for aspiring writers?

Just do it!There are so many setbacks, so many rejections and so much criticism.It feels really personal, but you just have to carry on!And the more you write, hopefully the better you'll become.

Caroline England will be in conversation with Deborah Grace on Saturday 29 June (2.50 pm) at Withington Baths. More information here

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Monday, 24 June 2019