As a book reviewer I have made contact with authors from all across the globe and feel immensely privileged to be able to share some amazing work. However, there is always something rather special when a book comes to my attention which has been written by an author in my part of the North of England. So with this in mind I have great pleasure in featuring some of those authors who are literally close to my home. Over the next few Saturdays, and hopefully beyond, I will be sharing the work of a very talented bunch of Northern authors and discovering just what being a Northerner means to them both in terms of inspiration and also in their writing.
I am delighted to welcome Northern Author
Hi Barbara - a very warm welcome to Jaffareadstoo !
Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?
Hello, Josie, and thank you for inviting me onto your lovely blog!
I'm the author of psychological crime thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, which I self-published. Both have been Amazon best sellers. I recently signed with my amazing publisher, Bookouture, and my third novel, THE DARKEST LIES, is coming out soon. I’m very excited about it, and can’t wait to tell you more – but I’m not allowed quite yet!
Before becoming a novelist, I spent twenty-odd years' as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. I've interviewed the real victims of crime - and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with me, I know a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That's why my novels are gritty, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions. Ordinary people like you and me are always at the heart of my novels.
When I’m not plotting murder, I’m generally walking my dog, Scamp, or taking photographs of wildlife.
You grew up in Lincolnshire – how have the people and its landscape shaped your writing?
Funnily enough, the influence seems to grow stronger the more I write. My first novel, Invisible, didn’t have any aspects of the people or landscape. In Flowers For The Dead, my second novel, I decided to set a single scene there. But what a scene! A murder takes place on Skegness beach, in the middle of winter. People know all about the fair, the donkey rides, and so forth, but I wanted to evoke a different side to the famous resort. I wanted to show the stark beauty and atmosphere of a winter’s day there. I had such fun writing it, and it seemed to flick a switch in me – after that I was determined that my next novel be set in the county where I grew up.
My new psychological thriller is called The Darkest Lies. It’s action all takes place in a Lincolnshire village, and the landscape is so key that it is almost another character. I can’t imagine it being set anywhere else.
If you were pitching Lincolnshire as an ideal place to live, work and write – how would you sell it and what makes it so special?
The big skies in Lincolnshire are wonderful. There are hills in the county, and some wonderful rolling countryside; but I grew up near the coast, where it is completely and utterly flat. When away from it, I miss the wide, open spaces, and being able to see for miles in every direction – and up above me is the huge expanse of the heavens. It’s possible to see the weather fronts coming in for miles before they arrive.
The Lincolnshire coast is wonderfully unspoilt, too. People often make jokes about Skegness, but it boasts miles of golden sands, and right beside it is Gibraltar Point nature reserve, a site of international importance.
Writing is a solitary business - how do you interact with other authors?
You’re correct, writing is a very solitary business. But it is also full of the most supportive, friendly, and passionate people I have ever encountered. As well as ‘meeting’ fabulous bloggers and readers online, I also love to have a quick skive on Facebook and Twitter with other authors. Authors are always willing to give one another advice, or just have a chat on social media, and I’ve made some incredible friends this way. Which is funny, really, as, before I became an author, I didn’t even have a Facebook account – and used to think social media was a bit ‘sad’. That’s that lesson learned!
There are also occasional social gatherings, where we all get together in real life. Although that doesn’t happen often as we’re all always too busy writing.
What are the up and downs to being an author?
I’ll be honest, the money isn’t great. If I wanted to become a millionaire, I’ve chosen the wrong profession! But it’s a great feeling when I look at a sentence and think: ‘ooh, nice turn of phrase!’ Those are the moments it seems as though I haven’t written the words at all; they must surely have come from someone or somewhere else, appearing by magic through me. Far, far better than that, though, is when someone else thinks my writing is good. The second someone says something positive about my work, it makes all the hours of worry, insecurity, and agonizing worthwhile. I love being an author, so no matter what its ups and downs, I’ll never change what I do.
How supportive are local communities to your writing, and are there ever any opportunities for book shops, local reading groups, or libraries to be involved in promoting your work?
Although I no longer live in Lincolnshire, I will always consider it my home. The local newspapers always do me proud, covering my successes in the book world. It gives me a thrill to see myself in the Skegness Standard; particularly because that’s the newspaper I not only grew up reading, but that I started my journalism career on.
I’d be absolutely honoured to attend reading groups in Skegness. Fingers crossed someone will read this and invite me along.
What can you tell us about your latest writing project?
Oooh, I can’t say too much about what I’m writing at the moment. What I can say is that it is once again set in Lincolnshire. There is something unique to the area, a haunting beauty that pulls me back again and again. It is the perfect canvas on which to create murder, mystery, and suspicion…
You can find out more about Barbara and her books on her website by clicking here
Visit her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @BCopperthwait
Huge thanks to Barbara for sharing her love of Lincolnshire with us and for talking about her writing and the exciting plans for her next book.
I hope that you have enjoyed this Close to Home Feature
Coming next week : Gina Kirkham