Bad Blood Blog Tour: Guest Post from Julie Shaw

Tuesday 19 July 2016
Today I am very excited to be sharing a guest post from Julie Shaw as part of her first ever blog tour for her latest book, Bad Blood! I loved reading the post as I found it very interesting and so hopefully you will too! I can confirm that Bad Blood is an excellent read and my review for it will be following very soon. Until then, please enjoy the post and check out the book if you haven't already.

I often get asked if I base my characters on real people I know and usually, the answer is yes, they are almost always based on someone I know or knew or have heard about. In my latest book Bad Blood however I did not personally know Lizzie, Christine and Nicky; it is their complex relationship which compelled me to write about them.

Lizzie is a complicated character. As a struggling single mother of two children, her life was all about finding a man to make her life easier. Never a father figure for her children – that didn’t occur to her, but more someone who would make her life look ‘normal’ in other people’s eyes. In her mind, if she had a man, any man, she would be seen as respectable. She comes off as gullible, as the man she has set her sights on is a drug dealer and a womaniser, but this suits Lizzie down to the ground. As long as he has money to give her now and again, and comes round now and again, that’s fine by her, and she chooses to ignore any of the downsides of their relationship.

Christine and Nicky have suffered all of their lives due to their mother’s choices and have always had to take a back seat. Unlike other mums that they knew, who were concerned about making packed lunches for school and ensuring they had clean uniforms, their mother was more bothered about how she looked herself. They learned at an early age to accept things as they were and became accustomed to watching Lizzie buy all the best make up and the latest fashion for herself, so she looked young for whatever boyfriend was on the scene.

Nicky left the home as soon as he was able, but he and Christine had a bond that was born of watching out for each other from being very young. This bond is what would eventually be Nicky’s undoing and present Christine with an opportunity to change her life. It also gave Christine the tools to be able to love her own baby, Joey, like she did. The love was always there, despite the ability to properly parent being lacking. She didn’t have a role model to show her how to be a mum – only a brother to make her understand the strength of blood ties.

Growing up on some poverty stricken estates in Bradford, I saw relationships like this all around me. I and my siblings even experienced something similar in that our parents both had to work and as they ran pubs and clubs it meant we were left to our own devices a lot. We learned very quickly that we had to organise ourselves into some kind of pecking order, and take on certain roles depending on our age and skills. I was the oldest, so my jobs were looking out for the younger ones – which often involved fighting on the streets to stick up for them, washing and ironing our clothes, and I could cook a family meal by the time I was ten years old. My little sister had to learn how to keep the house clean and make up beds, and my brother had to see to our dogs and garden.

Our friends envied us. We were the kids who could stay out to play later than anyone else, and were allowed into town on the bus by ourselves to buy meat and vegetables from the market. They had no clue that we envied them. Especially when we heard their dads shouting them in on school nights for supper and to be put to bed. I would often sit with my brother and sister and sing them a song before sleep, just so they felt a bit more like their friends must feel.

We loved our mum and dad and still do, and we know they worked to provide for us, and the pub life was the only life they knew, and actually it gave us skills and a resilience that has stayed with us for life and has been reflected in the way we have brought our own children up. To be tough, tolerant and to be there to help anyone less fortunate.

You’ll see all of these values in any of my books. My characters have all had it tough in one way or another, but they also have that extra something. That ability to accept their past and learn from it. Some of them carry it with them, just as in real life, while others turn their back on it and change things.

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