#blogtour – Secrets We Keep by Faith Hogan @GerHogan @BrookCottageBks #QandA #extract #giveaway

I’m delighted today to be part of the blog tour for Secrets We Keep by Faith Hogan. Thank you to JB Johnston from Brook Cottage Books for the spot on the tour.

This is one of those books I would love to have got round to before now but sadly time didn’t permit it. In the meantime I have a packed post to share with you with a Q&A with the author, an extract and a giveaway!

First of all, here’s what Secrets We Keep is about.

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: February  2017

Publisher: Aria Fiction – Head of Zeus

Two distant relatives, drawn together in companionship are forced to confront their pasts and learn that some people are good at keeping secrets and some secrets are never meant to be kept..

A bittersweet story of love, loss and life. Perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan, Adele Parks and Rosamunde Pilcher.

The beautiful old Bath House in Ballytokeep has lain empty and abandoned for decades. For devoted pensioners Archie and Iris, it holds too many conflicting memories of their adolescent dalliances and tragic consequences – sometimes it’s better to leave the past where it belongs.

For highflying, top London divorce lawyer Kate Hunt, it’s a fresh start – maybe even her future. On a winter visit to see her estranged Aunt Iris she falls in love with the Bath House. Inspired, she moves to Ballytokeep leaving her past heartache 600 miles away – but can you ever escape your past or your destiny?


‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Kate said. It was her first thought as they turned down the cove and saw the bathhouse snuggled into the cliff face. It was a turreted, stocky grown-ups sandcastle. ‘It could have been emptied from a child’s bucket,’ was her first reaction. It had been painted, white with a light blue trim once, then the waves and the spray had all but washed that away. It still sat proudly, if shabbily, on a huge flat rock, that upturned in a lip over the sea. It was a plate, large enough for any giant.

‘Genesis Rock – it’s a metamorphic rock, probably over a thousand million years old,’ Rita said. ‘Sorry, did I mention I taught geography and home economics, once upon a time.’

‘No, but I probably should have guessed.’

‘I don’t remember the bathhouse even being open. I could imagine that I’d have spent all my days here if I had.’ Rita looked at the washed white walls that reached high into the cliff face.

‘Well, Archie said they ran it for a few years, but he didn’t say when it shut.’ This place probably held sadness for Archie, if his brother died here. Kate couldn’t feel it. Instead, it made her feel energized, as though the sea was spraying something like an invitation deep into her lungs. It made her heart pound with an expectation she hadn’t felt in years. Even the deserted castle keep that loomed up in grey stone at the tip of the headland seemed to carry a hopeful secret in its towers.

‘It must have been lovely once. Even now, you can see.’ Rita rested her hands on the thick window ledge, her nose pressed firmly to the cold glass of the windows. ‘It looks like they just closed up one evening and never came back.’

Kate walked to the back of the bathhouse; it dug into the cliff face, as though the construction of one depended on the other. Alongside the building, a small narrow road clung to the cliff for a couple of hundred yards before it feathered off onto what counted as a main road in these parts. Far below, the waves lapped serenely against the stone. It was low tide now; Kate wondered how close the water actually came to the rock. ‘I’d love to get a look inside.’ Rita followed her round to the front of the bathhouse. They peered through a sea sprayed window for a few minutes. Inside, Kate could see there were tables and chairs, a small stove and an old-fashioned counter where once someone had taken orders for afternoon tea. ‘It’s a little café, wouldn’t it be lovely if it was open for coffee?’ Kate mused, it was so much more than just a bathhouse.


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1. Where did your inspiration for Secrets We Keep come from?

I live in the westest corner of Ireland where the Atlantic Ocean whips up salty fresh air to our doorstep. Just a few miles down the road, there’s a little town called Enniscrone, with a mile of sandy beach, and perched within long smoothed rocks, an abandoned Bath House – to my mind, it was crying out for a story of its own!

2. I have to say I love a family tree at the beginning of a book. Is it important for the reader to understand the family line in Secrets We Keep or do you just love a family tree too?

I adore family trees – the bigger and more convoluted the better! Each line conveys so much more than just date and name, it’s a life lived. When I wrote Secrets We Keep I hadn’t added in a family tree – way too many arty skills there for me to tackle! It took a lovely girl called Yasemin in the publishing house who worked her magic and I was thrilled with the results! I think it adds to the story – full of promise and intrigue at the outset, you can refer back to it as everyone becomes familiar, a little like a map!

3. Secrets We Keep is set in a fictional town called Ballytokeep which I understand bears a resemblance to the town where you live. How important is a sense of place in your work?

I love where I live. I suppose, I’m lucky, I’ve chosen to live here, so I’m here by design rather than accident. It’s an inspiring part of the world, I’ve worked and lived in Yeats’ country, Goldsmith County and of course, spent a number of years in Dublin – that famous city of Ulysses. That said, Secrets We Keep is the only book I’ve written so far that is actually based here the others are based in Dublin, but I am just beginning a new book, so who knows….

4. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Like a lot of writers, I’m always thinking about what’s coming next. Generally, I’ll have a few ideas and it’s about whittling them down more than anything else. The planning stage is important, as much to clear the mind of the old as it is to fill it with something new. Most often, my planning is done in a comfy chair with a fat notebook and a pencil, then there’s a period of checking off things like dates and possibilities. This summer has been a strange one for me, I’ve probably written less in the last few months than I have in years, but that was a combination of things outside my control and now, I’m just itching to get back into the middle of something new!

5. And related to that, do you plot your book meticulously before you start or wing it and see how it comes together?

I’m a sit in one seat and tap out key after key sort of writer. I’ll have a good idea of the structure before I start, but usually, the end product will bear little resemblance to those first giddy plans! There is normally a redraft, a lot of cutting and then finally, a lot polishing – honestly, it could go on like that for years if there wasn’t some kind of deadline 😉

6. You’ve had some interesting jobs. Can you tell me more about them? Have any of them influenced you as a writer?

I think everything influences the writing. That’s not just the jobs, but the places you’ve been, the people you’ve known and of course, other books you’ve read. We’re constantly absorbing, whether we realise it or not. I think the job of a happy person, is to put yourself in a place that you’re absorbing the good stuff!

True, I’ve had what seems like a wide variety of jobs, but it’s funny, when I was moving jobs, each one felt like a progression. I studied marketing when I left school and spent some time in retail management – fashion. That tied in with the modelling. Later, returning to Mayo, I became involved in a local Arts Festival, but I had returned to college at that stage to gain my degree in English and Psychology. Arts Administration is by its nature hardly the most secure employment area – it was then at least, very much a contract to contract arrangement. Hence my crossover into Mental Health and Disability Services. I suppose the constant throughout was a love of books – and ta dah! Here we are today – writer!

7. And following on from that, if you weren’t writing now what do you think you would be doing?

A couple of years ago, I had this conversation with myself. If I couldn’t write, what would I do? People around me were talking about going back to college to study worthy pursuits like counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy. Me? I’d like to go back one day and take my PhD in English Lit – but actually get employment in that area – well, that would be a whole other thing, I hadn’t thought quite that far ahead!

On another note, I’ve always quite fancied myself as a bit of a farmer – so you know, a decent pair of wellies and who knows!

8. Tell me about your writing day. Where do you write and do you have a daily routine?

My writing routine has always been early mornings, but that’s harder these days with other commitments. I do get up earlier than most people, but I get to write a day a week also, so that’s a bit of a treat.

9. Do you have time to read yourself and if so what kind of books do you enjoy?

Oh, not reading would be like cutting off the air supply! I’ve always got a book or three on the go. Currently I’m reading a debut Aria author, whose book is due out next month, Lisa Hobman and I’m enjoying that very much. My reading tastes are fairly eclectic, but perhaps pretty mainstream at the same time. This last year, favourite books have included Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and The Muse by Jessie Burton.

10. What are you planning to write next?

I’ve just started into my fourth book for Aria Fiction. I’m hoping to write three interconnected books, that will tie character and place together and I’m really excited about it, but it’s very early days!

Thanks so much for such interesting answers, Faith.


Already an international best seller, Faith Hogan is an original voice in women’s fiction, she has been hailed as a Maeve Binchey for a new generation. Her stories are warm and rooted in a contemporary Irish landscape which has lost none of its wit or emotion thanks to its modern vibe.

Faith Hogan was born in Ireland.  She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.  She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

‘Secrets We Keep,’ is her second novel published with Aria Fiction. Her first, My Husbands Wives has been a top ten best seller and is currently available in paperback.

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