Author August: Laurel Remington – ‘Keep out’ – NO grown-ups allowed!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

Have parents forgotten the password?

Secret Cooking Club JacketAs an only child growing up in an isolated part of California, I didn’t always have other children around. I did, however, have a forest near the house to build dens and treehouses, sometimes with my dad, sometimes with my dolls, and often with imaginary friends I created in my mind. Before long, those dens had doors and were hidden away from grown-ups. To enter, you had to know the password, follow the rules, and most importantly, be able to keep a secret.

Writing The Secret Cooking Club made me think a lot about children and their love of secrets – whispered behind hands, written down in locked diaries, and shared with giggles just out of earshot of the grown-ups. My daughters aged five and seven already inhabit a rich and imaginative world with secret chants and claps, lists of rules, and hide-outs. Right now, I’m still an insider – but I know the day is coming when I’ll be cast out of the club, and their secrets will be theirs alone.

A lot of us parents are a little afraid of our children having secrets – only natural when we see in the media all the dangers out there for our children. We worry – and quite rightly so – about the minefield that is social media. How can we protect our Little Red Riding Hoods when they’re navigating a dark forest of chatrooms and forums and teach them to spot the wolf in granny’s clothing?

I don’t know the answer to that question, and I’m dreading the day when my kids really are old enough for their first computer or mobile. But for now, I think that the secret clubs they create are an important part of their social development. Secret clubs are like miniature societies – with their own rules (and consequences for breaking them), insiders, outsiders, rewards and hierarchy. What better way is there for children to become good members of society than for them to create their own?

And as for the day when I’m no longer an ‘insider’, I’m hoping that I will be able to respect their ‘secrets’ and teach them that it’s okay not to have mum micromanaging their lives. What’s not okay is for them to keep ‘bad’ things from me. In other words, secrets are secrets; bad things are bad things. Secrets can be a bit of fun, but if you encounter something bad or harmful, you have to tell a grown-up.

Laurel Remington (JoJo Cooper Photography)The girls in
The Secret Cooking Club are on the cusp of their teenage years. The main character, Scarlett, feels that her mum has betrayed her trust by writing a blog that reveals the embarrassing details of Scarlett’s life. When she decides to teach herself to cook using her neighbour’s special cookbook and kitchen, it’s natural that she keeps it a secret from her mum. Eventually, she is discovered by her friends, and they form a secret club. When her elderly neighbor returns, she is accepted as part of the club. Perhaps it’s because she too is an ‘outsider’ – an adult who is struggling to maintain her autonomy and stay in her own home. Scarlett’s mum learns about the secret club only once she has redeemed herself in Scarlett’s eyes.

The Secret Cooking Club is intended to be a celebration of friendship, coming of age, and good food. I hope it will help young teens to feel good about themselves, and send a positive message that ‘it’s cool to be ‘nice’’! And for us parents, there’s room in the club too, as long as we respect our children, provide a safe environment for them to become their own people, and always remember the secret password: independence!

The Secret Cooking Club by Laurel Remington out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

For more information go to

Follow @chickenhsebooks and @LaurelRemington

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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