Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Sue Shepherd
A moving and funny story about sisters, secrets and second chances.
Twin sisters Beth and Lisa do everything together, so what will happen now they both want a life of their own?
Beth has a secret she’s kept from everyone except her sister. But it’s time to get on with her life. Could a seductive Italian, a smooth-talking charmer or backpacking around Australia be the answer?
Lisa feels she’s always lived in her sister’s shadow. Maybe now it’s her turn for some fun, whatever the consequences. But will her drunken antics land Beth in trouble?
And when it comes to the crunch, will one sister have to give up what she wants so the other can have what she needs?
Guest Post – Inspiration:
‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ is the story of twin sisters, Beth and Lisa. Growing up, they’re very close and Beth is happy to share everything with her twin. When they’re ten, an accident at their birthday party disturbs Beth. But, as always, Lisa is there to comfort her and lull her off to sleep at bedtime. However, as Beth approaches adulthood, finding it more and more difficult to share everything with Lisa, she decides it’s time to start making a life for herself – alone.
Tired of living in her twin sister’s shadow, Lisa also makes a decision. It’s finally her turn to have some fun. She’s coming out into the spotlight, whatever the consequences.
What was the inspiration for the book?
When I began writing ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ I had no idea where the story would take me. Initially, I simply decided to include a couple of events from my own life. For example; for Beth and Lisa’s tenth birthday, their dad, Don, makes them a homemade paddling pool. Temperatures are soaring, and all around the neighbourhood the conversation revolves around the drought and the hosepipe ban. Don is too scared to fill the pool more than a few inches, knowing his neighbour ‘Grumpy Jack’ would think nothing of dobbing him in. This part of the story was based on my own tenth birthday. Being born in the summer of 1966, it means, of course, that my tenth birthday took place during what became known as ‘the long hot summer of ’76’. I have such strong memories of my sister and I jumping in and out of that small homemade pool. Our dad was also a nervous wreck, and, like Don, he turned the tap off after just five minutes.
The other part of the story that’s based on my own memories is the backpacking trip to Australia. After a harrowing experience at the age of seventeen, the twins decide to take a trip to Australia with their friend, Michelle. Some of the things that happen in Australia are based on the experiences of either myself or people that I met whilst there. Reading through my Aussie diaries conjured up many memories.
I knew that I wanted to write about sisters. Being one of two sisters myself, it’s a relationship I felt confident to write about. But I’ve always been rather interested in twins. Usually we spend the first part of our lives alone in the womb, and I find it fascinating that twins share those very important nine months.
Who is Michelle?
Michelle is Beth’s best friend. They meet when they are Primary School age. They are kindred spirits. Beth has her troublesome twin, Lisa, to contend with and Michelle has her overbearing mother. When, at the age of ten, the girls take a bit of fun slightly too far, Beth is forced to summons up all her courage, and risks a slap when standing up to Michelle’s mum. Eventually, freeing herself from the situation, she calls on her nanna to put Michelle’s mum firmly in her place. Throughout the book Beth and Michelle’s friendship goes through highs and lows. But, there are moments of great tenderness and devotion between them. It’s a friendship to be proud of.
What genre does the book fall into?
It’s a romcom. It centres around the tempestuous connection between the twins. But, with a seductive Italian and a charming backpacker up for grabs, it also includes a little bit of naughtiness. It touches on some difficult and relevant topics, with sensitivity and humour. As well as this, the story includes all the usual shenanigans and dramas associated with a busy, loving family. Ultimately, ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ has, at its heart, a touching romance. Hopefully my readers will laugh, cry and urge the characters on to achieve the things they deserve.
Is there a twist?
I’ve always enjoyed that slight ‘other world’ feel to a story. One of my favourite films is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, which of course includes a look at how life would’ve been if George Bailey had never been born.
My first novel was a tongue in cheek look at guardian angels. Sometimes written from the point of view of the overworked angels, who have the unenviable task of watching over us. I enjoyed creating a world that was not just inhabited by humans.
My second, told the tale of a decision and its two alternative outcomes. Two possibilities intertwined, kind of like the movie ‘Sliding Doors’. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that there could be more than one world, running simultaneously, where a seemingly inconsequential choice can change the future of those closest to us.
So, as you can see, I enjoy writing novels where things are not quite as they first appear, and ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head,’ is no different.
What is the twist?
Well, now … that would be telling!
Beth was getting out of her car when she heard a familiar voice behind her. ‘Beth Campbell, are you stalking me?’
She spun round, a smile already on her face. ‘Charlie Morris, you wally!’ He held his arms open and she ran to him. ‘When did you get back?’
‘Just over a week ago. Thought I’d come and see you, and, um … and … catch up with Michelle.’
‘You were away for ages.’
‘Yeah. I’ve been gone so long my face ought to be on milk cartons.’ He grinned, then added, ‘Don’t say it …’
‘That my face ought to be on bog rolls!’
‘I would never say such a thing.’ Beth gave his chin a stroke. ‘Your bum fluff hasn’t improved much.’
‘Nonsense. This is a brilliant beard,’ Charlie snorted.
She’d missed his laugh. ‘Michelle doesn’t live in Tennison Avenue any more. She moved out of her mum’s house.’
‘No one can blame her for that.’ He shuddered. ‘Bloody hell. Her mother. Meddling cow!’
‘Absolutely. Michelle’s not far though. She rents a flat with Ricky.’
‘Do you want to go for a drink or something? You know, to catch up.’
He gave a casual shrug. ‘Yeah, sure.’
‘I’ll just need to pop in and tell them I’m going out, they were expecting me for dinner.’ Beth gestured towards her parents’ house. ‘Fancy coming in, to see them?’
Again, he was casual. ‘Uh huh.’
She opened the front door and called out, ‘Look who I found loitering outside the house.’
Pat and Don appeared at the kitchen doorway. Don blanched and dropped the tea towel he’d been holding. ‘Oh, Christ.’
‘Is that little Charlie Morris?’ Pat had a closer look.
‘Yep, it’s me. All grown up.’
‘You’re not wrong. How are you?’ She was staring up at him, amazed at his size.
‘I’m good, thanks. Just back from Singapore for a while.’ Charlie held out his hand to Don. ‘Hello.’ With a slightly nervous cough, he added, ‘I’m OK, honest I am.’
Realising he’d been staring, with his mouth open, Don apologised and shook the hand he’d been offered. ‘Sorry, son, it’s just, you know. I can’t help remembering …’
At this point, Nanna came down the stairs. ‘Who’s this, then?’ Examining Charlie’s face, she grabbed the bull by the horns and said, ‘It’s the boy who nearly died. Blimey, you didn’t get like that eating salad, did you?’ Turning to Pat she remarked, ‘You’d never be able to pick him up out of that paddling pool now, would you?’
Charlie grinned. ‘Hello, Nanna. It’s good to see you again.’
‘We’re going to pop out for a drink to catch up. Don’t worry about me for dinner, Mum, I’ll get something whilst we’re out.’ Beth grabbed her handbag and made her way over to the hall mirror. Applying an extra coat of mascara and some fresh lipstick, she then set about adding some cover up to the scars on her chin, a constant reminder not to listen to Lisa’s advice.
‘OK. Just the two of you, is it?’ Pat asked.
Beth looked at Charlie. ‘Um … Charlie wants to catch up with Michelle too.’
‘Well, we don’t have to … I just …’
‘He had no intention of catching up with her, you idiot. Can’t you tell when someone wants to be alone with you?’ Lisa asked.
‘He mentioned her first. I’m just going along with his plan.’
Beth gave Nanna a hug. ‘See you later.’
‘Have fun with the big fella.’
‘You know something, Nanna?’ Charlie said. ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’
Nanna tilted her head. ‘Nonsense, I’ve aged like a sausage in the sun, but thank you anyway.’
Born in Harrow, Sue went on to spend several years living in Hertfordshire before selling up and taking a leap of faith across The Solent. She now resides on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the seaside and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Happiest when hunched over her laptop with a cup of tea on the go, Sue loves to create stories with plenty of heart and laughs, but she makes sure to include a bit of naughtiness too. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!
***My review to follow this month, but check out the other fabulous bloggers on the blog tour***
Also by Sue Shepherd:
For more details, see the authors website. Happy Monday reading!