Friday 19 January 2018

The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye #BlogTour @SarahMarieGraye @rararesources #TheSecondCup

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye's heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he's taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything - including why Jack's death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?

The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye was published last year and is perfect for fans of Maggie O'Farrell, Elizabeth Strout, Patrick McGrath and Nathan Filer. I am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour organised by Rachel from Rachel's Random Resources. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Sarah Marie Graye

I wasn’t a fan of reading as a child. I read the Peter and Jane books and thought “What a load of rubbish – my imagination is far better than that.” The only reason I continued reading was because we had lots of books in our house and strict TV rules. (BBC1 only, and the TV went off after John Craven’s Newsround unless it was Monday or Thursday and Blue Peter was on.)

My older sister was a huge fan of Enid Blyton, so her books shaped my childhood. Both my sister and I were bullied at school, but while she saw the Malory Towers series as escapism – daydreaming of going to boarding school and having lots of amazing friends – I found the books upsetting.

My heart ached for all the characters who weren’t in the inner clique; who were mocked and bullied and had no escape from school when the bell rang. When I mentioned this to my mum, she commented that she thought I was wired up differently. I secretly agreed. It came as no surprise to either of us when I was diagnosed with depression at nine years old.

I started to seek out books with lost or fragmented characters as a way to understand what was going on in my own head.

Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan blew me away. Here was a protagonist who was intelligent, but struggled socially; who was blossoming outside, but unsure of herself inside. As well as the complexity of the main character, the story – which focuses on adopted twins and astral projection – is clever and chilling. Although this is a YA novel, Duncan treats her readers like adults. I’d also recommend Duncan’s Locked In Time – both are engaging enough for adult readers as well as teenagers.

Two books that have stayed with me from this period in my life are The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. They were my first experiences of anti-heroes, and of authors writing about depravity and sharing characters who lived completely outside of social norms.

In The Wasp Factory, the main character is a psychopath brought up in a dysfunctional family who completes cruel rituals in order to predict the future. In The Cement Garden, we follow four siblings attempting to cope after encasing their mother’s corpse in cement in the cellar. Both books are brilliant. Neither is for the faint-hearted!

As I got older, I found myself reading more subtle versions of dissociated voices; those who were mentally on the periphery of life in some way. (Although Spider by Patrick McGrath and The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer are two notable exceptions.)

In Andrea Gillies’ The White Lie, the narrator is a bodiless voice, a character who doesn’t know whether or not he is dead. I refuse to write too much about the story here – not only do I not want to risk sharing spoilers, but this is the sort of book where you benefit from knowing as little as possible before you start reading.

After You'd Gone by Maggie O’Farrell is the first book to break my heart; I grieved for weeks. The story is told by Alice, who is in a coma after stepping out into traffic – and it’s not clear whether or not she meant to kill herself. She shares her life up until the point of the accident so you can make up your own mind.

Dorothy Koomson’s Goodnight, Beautiful introduced me to the idea of first-person multi-narration – which is the format I’ve used to write The Second Cup. Although I chose to put a name to each of my chapters, Koomson doesn’t – and I found myself thrown into a world I didn’t fully comprehend.

As I read each chapter, it became clear there were two distinct voices – and both of them were telling the same story from different perspectives. The idea that novels could expose so intimately how the actions of one character would, like a domino affect, influence another, made me realise multi-narration was the right vehicle for my own writing.

I’m also fascinated with the role time can play in novels. I was recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and people with the condition experience time differently. Although working against the clock has been a mainstay of thrillers since the genre began, I’m more interested in the mental aspect time can play. In The Second Cup, for example, Faye searches for her first love only to be 12 weeks too late.

Time is key to The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which is also written in multi-narrative first person. It exposes the recurring loss felt by Clare and Henry, who are sporadically and unpredictably wrenched apart by his medical condition, where his internal clock resets itself and he is pulled through time.

Next on my to-read list are two other books that play with time – How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman. If anyone reading this wants to recommend a time-bending novel (that isn’t sci-fi) please tweet to me @SarahMarieGraye.

Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie's childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing... until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It's a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor's scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel - about family, friendships and mental health. 

Find out more at

Twitter @SarahMarieGraye


  1. This sounds really intriguing:)

  2. I love The Time Traveler's Wife. I will also be sure to have a check in on the blog tour as it looks like an interesting one. x

    1. You can see all the stops on my blog tour here!

  3. I was recently given How To Stop Time for my birthday, and I am really looking forward to reading it. The Second Cup sounds like a fascinating read - another for the TBR pile I think. x

  4. Lois Duncan's books were my constant reads as a child. Stranger with my face was my all time favourite and I am still hunting for a protective charm like the one described in it. The Eyes of Karen Sanders was my second.
    Second Cup is on my list.

  5. I'm a big Malory Towers fan. Might check out some of these. though. The White Lie appeals :)

  6. This is a fantastic entry. I can see how all these influences come through in your writing. Thanks for sharing!