Friday, June 10, 2016

"If it doesn’t exist, then go ahead and write it"– Interviewing Sue Barnard

Today I'm  very honored and thrilled to interview  Sue Barnard, the author of The Ghostly Father, Nice Girls Don't, and The Unkindest Cut of All. 
Sue and I met on twitter many years ago. We started our writing career almost at the same time, and it's been fun to watch our books being picked up and published!

Hi Sue, before we get down to the real author questions, tell us a bit about yourself. 

  • Where are you from? 
Originally from North Wales, but apart from three years at Durham University I’ve lived most of my life in and around Manchester, UK.

  • Cat or dog?
I’m fond of both, but don’t own either.

  • What’s your favorite dish? 
That varies according to the seasons.  At the moment, it’s fresh asparagus.

  • Your favorite subject at school?
I enjoyed most of them, apart from sport, which I was (and still am) rubbish at.   I didn’t like art very much either, but that could have been because we had a rubbish teacher – one who wasn’t interested in anyone who wasn’t already a budding artisic genius.  So out of a class of 29, at least 28 of us were doomed to mediocrity before we’d even picked up a pencil.   Even now, more than 40 years later, that particular sense of failure has never really left me.

I particularly enjoyed languages, and went on to read French at university.  When I try to speak French I’m often asked if I’m from Belgium, and I’m never sure whether to be flattered or offended.

  • Tea or coffee? 
Tea on waking (we have a teasmade by the bed!), tea with breakfast, coffee mid-morning, coffee after lunch, tea mid-afternoon, coffee after dinner (provided it isn’t too late – otherwise it would keep me awake at night).  

  • If you watch TV - What’s your favorite crime show?
Jonathan Creek, written by David Renwick.  It’s a perfect blend of quirkiness, ingenuity and humour.

  • The last movie you saw?
Florence Foster Jenkins, about the life of the great(?) singer.  Funny and moving by turns.  Highly recommended.

  • Last book you read? 
Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, by fellow-Crooked Cat author Jennifer C Wilson.  It’s a refreshing new take on the story of King Richard III and the Princes in the Tower.

Okay, now that we know more about you let’s talk about the author part.

  1. When did you write your first story, and what was it about? 

If you exclude all those compulsory Composition exercises at school, my first attempt was a short story in the whodunit style.  That was more than 30 years ago.  I found it recently, re-read it, and cringed.  Enough said.

    2. Your first published novel was The Ghostly Father. In it you give the Romeo and Juliet story a totally new twist. How did you come up with that idea? 

I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but hated the ending.  But a few years ago I came across one of those lists of Things You Should Do Before You Die, and the one which leapt off the page and grabbed me by the throat was Write The Book You Want To Read.  The book I’ve always wanted to read is the version of R&J in which they don’t fall victim to a maddeningly-preventable double-suicide.  

Why, I asked myself, should there not be such a book?  And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed?  And if it doesn’t exist, then go ahead and write it.

   3.What has changed for you since you’ve become a published author?

In terms of my day-to-day life, not very much.  But it has meant that I can now describe myself as a writer, and can give a positive answer to the inevitable question Have you had anything published?

   4.Has it lived up to your expectations?

If by that you mean “Have I Earned Millions?”, then the answer has to be No – but unless you’re one of the very lucky few, it’s very hard to make a fortune (or even a living) from writing.  Having said that, the rewards in other respects have been overwhelming.  It’s really satisfying when someone – especially a total stranger – tells me how much he or she has enjoyed what I’ve written! 

5.What advice would you give your younger self? Would you encourage a young Sue to become a writer?

Yes, I would – and I’d tell her not to leave it until she’s the wrong side of 50!

   6.Which authors influenced you most? 

Shakespeare (obviously), but also John Wyndham, Joanne Harris, and my dear friend and mentor Sally Quilford, who taught me everything I know about writing romance.

   7.How do you feel about giving away books (Kindle) for free as a marketing technique? Have you done it yet, and were you pleased with the outcome?

I haven’t given away any of my books for free; my publisher doesn’t do that.  But we have had promotions in which the Kindle versions of the books have been reduced in price for an introductory or limited period, and those have been reasonably successful in terms of increasing sales and raising the books‘ profiles.

I must confess I’m a bit wary of totally free promotions; I can’t help wondering if their overall effect is to undervalue the work of the author.  One writer once told me that someone had said to her, “I really want to read your books, but I’m waiting for them to become free before I download them!”  Shocking, I know – but apparently there are people out there who always want something for nothing, and there is a strong risk that free promotions will simply fuel that kind of greed.

   8. What are you working on right now?

I’ve just blown the dust off a long-running poetry project.  Don’t stay in specially waiting for it to be finished, though.

     9.Where can we buy your books?

The paperbacks are all available from Amazon.  The e-books are available from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks.  The links are here:

The Ghostly FatherAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks
Nice Girls Don’tAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks
The Unkindest Cut of AllAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks

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