Fresh Blood

Name: Sharon Bairden

Title of Book: The Sins of the Father

'With her debut, Bairden has come out with all guns blazing.'

Lucas Findlay thinks he has struck gold when he marries Rebecca, but she married him for one reason only – to destroy him.

TRAUMA RUNS DEEP: When her past comes back to haunt her, Rebecca begins to disconnect from herself and the world around her. As secrets are unearthed, she begins to fear for her sanity… and her life.

TRUTH WILL OUT: With her world unravelling around her, Rebecca clings to her determination to make Lucas pay, whatever the cost.

FORGIVE HIS SINS: But someone must pay for the sins of the father…

With her debut, Bairden has come out with all guns blazing. There is no stone she is afraid to unturn, nor is she reticent to delve the depths of the mental fragility of some, whilst not shying away from exposing the depravity of others.

‘Sins of the Father’ is not a comfortable read, but it is also one you cannot resist. Instead of simply saying Rebecca has voices in her head, Bairden takes us on a trip through Rebecca’s tortured mind, showing us the reason why she has been made this way. With detail, Bairden paints a picture, not with broad strokes, but with a fine eye for detail. I felt as though Rebecca’s head had been cracked open and we were looking inside to see she how she ticked. It isn’t a pretty journey, but one that is absorbing and terrifying in equal measure.

Rebecca is one of the abused, but also an abuser. However, Bairden does not make Rebecca someone you dislike, she has this remarkable way of making you feel some empathy towards her. Many of the cast have been subjected to some abuse by the adults they should have been able to trust, but sadly they were either rotten to the core or misguided, easily led by others.

Despite the synopsis above, this isn’t just a simple novel of revenge. This is about how people cope with crippling mental health on a daily basis. How they lead ‘normal’ lives whilst feeling the rage inside them, their true feelings beating against the bars of the cage they have constructed inside themselves. Bairden shows how that cage can become fragile and those other people, voices or feelings can finally escape and bring the whole façade crashing down. That is the fight on the hands of all those who have to deal with the fragility of mental health.

For a debut this is an astonishing piece of work that will pull at your heart strings and create tension as this cast of characters seem to be on a juggernaut speeding towards a cliff. Bairden winds up her story until the tension is taut, when you know something has to snap. When it does it is explosive and breath-taking. This dark read comes fully-formed and assured. I can’t wait to see what else comes from the dark mind of Sharon Bairden.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) Rebecca has been the victim of child abuse. This is a very tough subject to tackle in your first novel. Did you have some knowledge of abuse from your day job, or did you need to seek advice from experts?
Throughout life I have met and known people who have been victims of trauma or abuse as a child. I’ve also done my own research into the area in the past and I drew on this experience and knowledge as I wrote Rebecca’s story. However, I also wanted to highlight, the issues of adverse system experiences, that is where systems and processes set up to support and help, can leave people feeling abandoned or unsupported.
2) Rebecca has different voices, the dominant one being Samantha. You explain she has these voices to disconnect her from the abuse. Due to these voices she has spent time in hospital. Despite her violent tendencies via Samantha, you also make Rebecca quite vulnerable. Was this deliberate on your part or is that how Rebecca emerged as the story progressed?
Rebecca is a complex character and at times, particularly as an adult, she can come across as quite unlikeable, especially when Samantha takes over. However, I also wanted to show her vulnerability both as a child and an adult and done this deliberately. I want readers to come away feeling some empathy for her and some understanding of what lies behind her behaviour. Usually when people display behaviour that others may label as challenging, if you dig deep enough you can usually find some form of trauma lies behind this.
3) Your book isn’t exactly populated with the fluffiest of characters. Everyone seems to have a hidden agenda. However, having said that, you still managed to keep me reading to find out what happened to them all. Do you think everyone is capable of a crime?
Oh, definitely no fluffy characters for me! Have you seen inside my head! I believe that everyone has a dark side to them and I think we all have that big red button somewhere in our psyche that could drive us to commit a crime but most of us are able to stop ourselves just before the button gets pushed!
4) At your launch you said how you had the nucleus of an idea when at Crime and Publishment in Carlisle. Would you like to expand on that and how C&P helped you on the road to being a writer?
As soon as I’d booked up to go to C&P, I knew I had to go with something to focus on. I could have gone along with a blank piece of paper and hoped for the best. But I really wanted to come away with a goal. So I had played around with my characters and my storyline in my head before putting pen to paper and starting draft one. The workshops over the weekend really helped me think about the structure of the story and how to develop my characters. But also, the chance to talk and connect with other people at different points in their writing journey helped me too. I think I came away feeling much more confident and focused in where I was heading!
5) What can we expect next from Sharon Bairden?
Further dark and twisted thoughts from inside my head! Current work in progress features a note tucked inside the pages of a book which leaves the finder chilled to the bone when they realise someone knows their secret!
6) What bit of advice would you give to anyone starting out writing their debut?
Sit down on your behind and write! You can’t edit a blank page is probably the best ever advice given to me! Don’t get too hung up on competing with others in terms of how many words you write, or hours you write per day. The joy of writing a debut is that you are writing to your own timescale, so enjoy that luxury! Connect with other writers, join groups online (in person when they start up again) and soak up all the information you can. But most of all, enjoy it!
7) Are you a fan of crime fiction? If so, which three crime novels would you like with you if stranded on a desert island?
I am a huge fan of crime fiction and you are so cruel making me choose just three!

The Laidlaw Trilogy: William McIlvanney

The Photographer – Craig Robertson

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I’ve never read it and I guess if I was going to be stranded on a desert island, that would be the best time to start!)