‘The Shadows Behind Her Smile’, by Karen Millie-James
About a year ago I met Karen Millie-James, a writer whose work entranced me. Her engaging personality and good nature really shines through in her first novel, The Shadows Behind Her Smile. This is truly compelling reading. It’s one of those wondrous and sought-after works that grips the reader so tightly you live the characters. I loved this book! What’s more, it’s free this Sunday, 1st May, so grab it while you can. I guarantee you’ll quickly become a fan too.
A superb new writer has arrived, and her name is Karen Millie-James!
Karen, what made you want to write?
It was something that was forever in the back of my mind and all I had to do was create time away from my business. This I managed to do over the last three years and it has taken over my life, in the most positive of ways. My background is in literature and languages so that was the easy bit.
Why this book?
The book sort of wrote itself. The business side is what I know about, I drew on my childhood for experiences and the characterisation of my protagonist includes some of my own traits. I always thought it would be good when meeting people to understand their own background and agenda, which is why Cydney Granger uses her powers of mediumship.
How long did it take you to write, how often do you write and where?
It took three years including the editing process, which took six months. I tried to write at weekends and sometimes after work for a few hours. My best writing has been in Spain actually, where my house overlooks the mountains. I find this particularly grounding and peaceful.
Yes I do believe that we go to a better place. I try to write with honesty and integrity and always thinking of others.
Write then edit, or write and edit at the end?
I write, review a few chapters, then maybe move things around a bit. The main edit took place when I ‘thought’ I had actually finished the book. I have probably read it about 30 times since.
Which TV programmes, books and authors inspire you and why?
I love John Grisham and Wilbur Smith. I can be completely enthralled by their books. Everything they do comes from their own experiences, whether it’s the scene description, their plot lines and characters.
I really enjoy the period dramas, especially dramatization of Jane Austen novels. I studied them all at length. The classics are some of my particular favourites, as I was brought up reading them. This encompasses anything from Shakespeare to Dickens.
Do you have Beta readers – or who reads your books prior to publishing?
I have a couple of close friends who give me their opinion, and my husband is a very good sounding board.
Karen Millie-James grew up north-west London and now lives in the Buckinghamshire countryside with her husband, daughter and their three dogs. Karen founded her international business consultancy practice in 1993 and is widely recognised as an expert in the corporate field, sitting on many boards of directors around the globe in an advisory capacity.
Prologue – Four Years Earlier
Black storm clouds gathered ominously overhead as if to signal that the day was destined to be catastrophic, as if it was waiting for the hand of God to reach down and fire the wrath of Hades. That was exactly how Cydney felt as an incredible sense of premonition washed over her and the terrible vision that had repeatedly inhabited her dreams, which she had chosen to banish from her mind, came flooding back.
The crunch of tyres on the driveway shook Cydney from her daydream. This was it. This was the time. It had happened as she knew it would, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
She grabbed the sink in front of her with both hands as the blood drained from her head. Everything slowed down as if she was still in her dream and the world had stopped spinning. Cydney removed and folded her gloves and laid them carefully on the side of the sink, trying to delay the inevitable. Turning around, she pulled down the sleeves of her jumper, ran her hands through her hair and walked from the kitchen to the front of the house, her steps slow but sure.
Poised in the hallway, she waited for the doorbell to ring. She took one glance up the stairs towards the twins’ bedroom, relieved to know they weren’t there, and watched through the glass in the front door as a black saloon pulled up outside and two men in brown army s stepped out, one wearing captain’s insignia, which she easily recognised. The men straightened down their jackets, placed their caps, glanced at each other and walked towards the house, their steps hesitant. Opening the door, she said nothing. One held out a brown cardboard box towards her, willing her to take it and relieve him of his unwanted charge.
“Mrs Granger?” the other asked.
Cydney stood frozen to the spot. Her mouth wanted to work but if she spoke it would mean finality.
“I’m so sorry, ma’am…”
The words floated in the air as Cydney fell to the ground.
THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel. Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger, will be available worldwide later in 2016.
Find out more about Karen at: