I’m delighted to welcome author Penny Batchelor onto the blog today. Penny is going to tell us about her debut novel, My Perfect Sister, a domestic noir thriller that was longlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2020.
How can Annie live up to the memory of a missing sister she can barely remember?
When she returns to her childhood home age 30 she has to confront the dark secrets it holds, but will she ever find out what happened back in 1989 … and is it safe to try?
I stand in my childhood bedroom, though little remains of what it used to be. On the walls where in my teenage years I had blu-tacked Nirvana and Oasis posters there’s now pale blue wallpaper with a small, white, peony pattern. The old cider-stained taupe carpet has gone, replaced by a dark blue plush version. Instead of my vanity table placed against the side wall there’s a modern sewing machine on a stand, surrounded by neat, stacked plastic boxes containing threads and fabric. Lots of flowers and pink. Everything has a place and is rigidly in it.
The pencil marks on the door frame recording my height over the years have been emulshioned over. A white flat pack wardrobe stands where my old wooden one used to be. Inside are empty hangers, the kind bought in a multipack, not plastic ones taken from high street shops on a Saturday afternoon shopping trip. No cast-off underwear destined for the laundry lounges on the floor. The childhood books I left behind are long gone, as is the small bookcase. Only the single bed remains as a remnant from what the room once was to testify that I slept here. Even that, pushed up against the back wall instead of jutting out into the room, is covered in a patchwork quilt no doubt sewn by my mother to show her crafting skills off to guests.
If she ever has any.
This is not my room anymore; it’s the spare bedroom. In fact it’s as if I never was here, as if I didn’t exist.
On the contrary it is Gemma who probably doesn’t exist but you wouldn’t know it by looking in ‘her’ room. I shut the spare room door behind me and push open the brown door with a pottery, multi-coloured ‘Gemma’ sign still stuck on it. Behind that door is a lost world, a museum piece from a distant decade that should be covered Miss Haversham-style in dust and cobwebs but is as spic and span as if it were cleaned yesterday.
No doubt it was.
Presents lie on the floor next to the bed where her shoe collection use to be – one for each birthday and Christmas she has been gone. For goodness sake. Does mother think Gemma is going to come back from the dead and open them?
Her pop posters still line the walls, her lipsticks, mascara and eyeliner neatly sit on the dressing table below its mirror (I hate to think of the bacteria on them), and from the back of her dressing table chair hangs her mini-rucksack, the black one she took out with her when meeting her friends. Scruffy, the mangy fluffy dog mother said Gemma was given as a baby, guards her pillow. It’s the same bed linen, purple with white swirls that she once slept in, but freshly washed and ironed. This is a sanitised teenage girls’ bedroom, without the smell of perfume, freshly-washed hair, sweaty casts-off clothes or a cup of once warm coffee. Without breath. Without life.
It sounds intriguiging, doesn’t it? You can buy a copy here:
Amazon (ebook or paperback): https://amzn.to/3jpSgEx
Signed copies at Kenilworth Books: https://www.kenilworthbooks.co.uk/my-perfect-sister/
Penny Batchelor is an alumna of the Faber Academy online ‘Writing a Novel’ course.
She is a freelance journalist, a former BBC content producer and website editor for various educational institutions, and lives in Warwickshire with her husband.
Her journalism has appeared in numerous publications including The Knitter, Vintage Life, Mollie Makes, Travel Africa, The Simple Things and Pretty Nostalgic magazines; and BBC Ouch!, money magpie.com, welovethisbook.com and The University of Warwick’s Knowledge Centre websites.
My Perfect Sister is her first novel and she is currently writing a second.
Thanks for dropping by to talk to us about your book, Penny. 🙂
Out now! Available as an ebook, print and audio book. https://geni.us/B08GKRRPWHSocial