“That one would live in one of your ears and rent the other one out in flats.”
Did you ever hear that phrase? Did you ever have someone in your life who it aptly applied to? You know, a real user. The kind of person who although they seem perfectly charming and benign on the surface, can’t help but suck the life blood out of anyone they come in contact with. Well, that’s what Our Little Secret is about.
I’m often asked, ‘where did you get all your ideas from?’ And the idea for this book came from, of all things, the old Bette Davis movie All About Eve. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time and was a huge touchstone of mine when I was writing the book.
So I thought of a character, Kate, who’s all heart, sometimes to her own detriment. She sets out to do a good turn for a younger woman called Lauren, thinking that this is the right and proper thing to do. After all, goes her reasoning, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other, isn’t there? Kate is a senior partner at a legal firm and has spent years grafting and working fourteen-hour days just to get to where she is.
Lauren on the other hand, is a newly qualified solicitor who’s finding it impossible to get work – and has absolutely no difficulty giving Kate her whole sob-story. So Kate does what any kind, considerate person would do: she goes out of her way to get her new young protégée a job at the firm, albeit a low-grade one.
As the story unravels and the women become closer and closer, we see Kate gradually opening up her heart and home to her new pal – after all, Lauren is bright, helpful and charming to a fault. The kind of person who’s probably the deadliest of all; one who seems outwardly lovely so it’s easy to fall into a warm, open friendship with her. Or at least, so Kate thinks, little realising that she’s being manipulated every step of the way.
It quickly becomes apparent that the consequences of this will be devastating. Over time, Kate ends up losing everything: the love and trust of her teenage daughter; even her ex-husband seems to be totally and utterly under Lauren’s spell.
So what intrigued me was – what then? If that ever happened to you, how would you set about reclaiming your life? When you were guilty of nothing more than trying to give a young one a leg up in life?
It’s a sad thing to admit, but I think we’ve all met a user somewhere along the way in this life – the sort of person who just keeps taking and taking from you until you wake up one morning and realise that actually, you’re being walked on. It was almost like a recurring theme for me when I was researching the book. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who told me that it took them in many cases years before they eventually copped on to the fact that a once-trusted pal was actually little more than a user out for what they could siphon.
If you ask me, you can pretty much divide people into two different categories: those who give and, sadly, those who take whenever and whenever they can. Having said that, I’d guess that 90% of people, and particularly Irish people, are givers. We like to almost smother with hospitality; we can’t do enough for others. Remember the famous scene in Father Ted, where we see Mrs. Doyle and her pal ending up in prison, because their fight over who got to pay the bill descended into fisticuffs? That’s most Irish people’s ultimate aspiration. No one, repeat, no one wants to be thought of as the Big Meanie at the table, who runs to the loo when the bill appears, then acts like they’ve paid their way. We’ve all had the experience of being stung financially and it’s a lesson you absorb fairly quickly.
But what happens, I wondered; if you have someone who’s out to suck you dry emotionally as well? Someone who sees your life and who inveigles there way in slowly but surely, bit by bit, until it dawns on you that they’re actually living it for you? What happens if it all just goes that bit too far? How would you even begin to start reclaiming that life back again?
And this is what Our Little Secret is all about.
I had a ball writing the book, and I really hope you’ll enjoy reading it too. And, as ever, my humble and most heartfelt thanks to booksellers, book bloggers and of course to readers everywhere. There are no words to say how much your kindness and support means – there really aren’t.
Huge Hugs and Happy Reading, from Claudia xxxxxxx
(c) Claudia Carroll
About Our Little Secret:
A sparkling story about what happens when you let someone into your life… but they turn out to want more than you’d bargained for!
Sarah Dee has the perfect life. A high-flying job in a law firm, a beautiful daughter and a house to die for. So how does she find herself looking in through the kitchen window while another woman enjoys it all?
When Sarah takes pity on a struggling young graduate who can’t get a job, she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She’s being kind, generous and helpful to others, as she always is. But as Sarah allows the younger woman into her home, her law firm and even her family, is there more to this pretty youngster than meets the eye? And could this be a good deed that goes further than expected?
Claudia Carroll does it again with a sparkling new novel about what happens when your life becomes up for grabs…
Order your copy online here.