Sunday morning was sunny and bright, and a perfect day for relaxing in deckchairs in the small Arcadia tent, to listen to Paul Blezard chat to Susanna Beard about her debut novel Dare To Remember. After a career in PR, promoting everything from wifi to wine, Susanna wanted to pursue her dream of writing a novel, and while doing so enrolled on one of the Faber courses, through which such a lot of authors have come to notice.
She wasn't setting out to write a crime novel as such, but just wrote a story and ignored which genre it might fall into. In the end, Dare to Remember is a mix of crime, thriller and psychological drama, not easily falling into one single category, and is the story of a woman recovering from a violent attack. Following it, Lisa cuts herself off from friends and family, and leaves town for the quiet of the country, but even there she can't escape what happened. Trauma has wiped her memory of the awful events, yet glimpses insist on coming back to her, and the only way forward for her seems to be to re-encounter the past.
While plotting and writing, Susanna found she needed to do research - into trauma, PTSD, victim support and the restorative Justice Council. Even though a lot of the details didn't actually find their way into the book, she felt they were needed for her to understand the emotions and process Lisa was undergoing. Susanna read a short section of Lisa having a 'panic attack' in her local village store after seeing the butcher carrying a knife, and she really seems to have caught the horror that overwhelms Lisa at that point.
A question often asked of debut authors is What next? Well, Susanna is ahead of the game, and her second novel, this time set in Lithuania, is already with her publishers.