IT is another family affair for author Kate Long whose latest novel explores the sensitive subject of mental illness.

And once again, her mantra of research, research, research came into play to develop the character Helen — the heroine's sister — who is struggling to move on from her damaged past.

Kate has a string of books to her name, including the bestselling Bad Mother's Handbook — and her latest release, entitled Something We Know, follows the family dynamic of two sisters and their over-protective mother.

Mum-of-two Kate is "always busy" and juggles her time between writing and researching, working as a teaching assistant in Whitchurch, Shropshire.

But she has not easily forgotten her northern roots and is delighted when she returns to her hometown of Blackrod so she can hear her favourite dialect once again.

She said: "I still visit home a lot. To me the voices in Lancashire, the rhythms of the dialect, are so inspiring. There's nothing like it, I miss it very much.

"If you live in Bolton or that area you've been given a gift to be able to write a story with that voice in your mind. I think that's why Bad Mother's Handbook did so well — it brought my characters to life."

Her more recent visits have been tainted with grief after her beloved mum Margaret Green died aged 81 following a 20 year battle with Parkinson's disease.

Kate, aged 50, said: "Returning to Blackrod for her funeral was bittersweet. We had it at a working men's club and it amazed me how easily I slipped back into life there. I was chatting to people I have not seen for 30 years like we hadn't been apart. It's like I never left.

"The support from people in Bolton has been wonderful — they are a breed apart from everyone else. It was like being welcomed back in a big hug. There's nowhere like the North West for friendliness.

"Everything I do from now on, mum's voice will be in my head giving me encouragement. It's a shame she can't do it in real life any more. She was always cheering me on along the way."

Her novels often tackle a sensitive subject — and her latest is no exception.

Kate said: "This story follows two sisters who are grown up but still live at home. The heroine, Jen, is a trainee journalist at a local paper and can't afford to move out. Her older sister Helen can't move out because she's had a mental illness and their mother is really overprotective . Helen lets Jen in on a dangerous secret and it's about what Jen does to protect her. So is another story of a family dynamic."

Research is key for Kate, who often has to dig deeply into an issue she may not have first hand experience of.

She said: "You have to keep your eyes and ears open and read about anything related to the topic; also watch adverts and really good drama programmes on TV. For example I do not have a sister, and I had to write about sisters in Something We Know, as well as mental illness. If you don't get things like that right, people will pick up on it."

Will there be another follow up to her bestseller?

Kate said: "I wrote Bad Mothers' Handbook because I felt that no one was writing about women in that way. I followed that up with bad Mothers United and who knows? I may do another in the future. It would be good to delve into the next generation in the family to see how Charlotte is getting on as a daughter and mother to a toddler.

"You'll have to wait and see."

To find out more about Kate's books, visit To order her latest book, which is out on August 13, visit