The Secret Baby Room – most vivid summer read 2015
‘DD JOHNSTON, one of this country’s most principled socialist novelists, is also one of the most versatile and talented around.’ The Morning Star
D.D. writes a beautiful piece about the genesis of the novel in Northern Soul. That takes us through some of the supposedly mean streets of Manchester – meanwhile the sedate streets of Cheltenham held real menace for the writer: read how a writer overcomes the worst in this Gloucestershire Echo interview.
What is ‘the secret baby room’? If there was just one answer, you wouldn’t have a novel. D.D. Johnston‘s psychological thriller starts off with Claire looking out from the window of her new home on a Manchester estate. Up on the 8th floor of a derelict tower block she spots a woman feeding a baby. Surely she does? Page my page she goes in search of her answer, and uncovers layer after layer of the city. And all that the secret baby room can mean.
Crime fiction expert Lee Horsley, author of The Noir Thriller, writes :‘D. D. Johnston’s The Secret Baby Room is a tense and compelling psychological thriller. Claire Wilson’s investigation leads her not only towards the dark knowledge of past crimes but towards an understanding of the damaged lives of those around her. Johnston offers us a wonderfully gripping read, but also a compassionate and moving story of people struggling to survive at the margins of a rapidly changing city.’
This is Scottish writer D.D.’s third novel, and his second with Barbican Press after his The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub (a Morning Star radical book of the year, longlisted for The Goldmiths Prize). The Secret Baby Room set itself in his head and heart when he was working at Manchester bus station. It’s one of those ideas that stick. It took years, and those first two novels, till he felt he all the writing skills in place and duly sharpened.
‘Johnston is too adept a storyteller to fall into agitprop-style prose and he almost incidentally reveals a fragmenting society dominated by despair and exploitation yet also the resourcefulness and courage of working-class citizens who survive where others would surely crack.’ – Paul Simon, The Morning Star