If you include those compulsory “Composition” exercises at school, I suppose I’ve been dabbling with writing for as long as I can remember: short stories, poems, articles, and the occasional stroppy letter to The Times. But it was around ten years ago, following a life-changing event which could easily fill an entire book on its own, that I began to take my writing more seriously. That was when I set myself the challenge of writing a full-length novel.
The eventual result was The Ghostly Father – a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet, but with a few new twists and a whole new outcome. The novel is told from the point of view of the Friar, and is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale.
At the time, I never had any plans for publication. I was writing the book just for myself, to give the story the outcome I’ve always wanted. But a friend who read the first draft suggested that I ought to take it further. When I received an email from Crooked Cat Publishing offering me a contract, I had to print it out and read it four times before I could convince myself that I hadn’t imagined the whole thing.
Since then I’ve written three more novels, also published by Crooked Cat. Nice Girls Don’t is a romantic intrigue about a search for family secrets. The Unkindest Cut of All is a murder mystery set in a theatre. My latest book, Never on Saturday (due for publication in February 2017), is a time-slip romance novella based on an old French legend. Unfortunately I can’t say which legend, as that would give too much away!
The Ghostly Father was originally written in response to the prompt Write The Book You Want To Read. I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet, but hated the way it ended. The book I’ve always wanted to read is the alternative version of the story, in which Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers 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.
This is perhaps the most difficult question, because I don’t really know the answer.
I can sit and stare at a blank screen for ages and nothing happens. Ideas and inspirations often appear when I least expect them – usually when I’m away from my computer and doing totally unrelated tasks, such as sorting out the laundry or mowing the lawn. On one occasion, an entire stanza of a poem arrived, fully-formed, when I was sitting in a traffic jam.
Sometimes the characters themselves take over the process. When I was writing Nice Girls Don’t, I looked down at the screen to find that the hero had said something which I had no recollection of having written, but which went on to change the entire course of the story. It was frustrating at the time, but I realised afterwards that he was quite right. My original idea would never have worked.
Maybe the wonder is not how it happens, but that it happens at all…
Never on Saturday
Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present…
Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiously optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life.
She settles into her student accommodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one fascinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess.
Then she meets Ray – charming, down-to-earth and devastatingly handsome. Within days, Mel’s entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled. Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.
But Mel’s dreams of happiness are under constant threat. She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray – or indeed anybody else – must never ever discover…
Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.
Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. Since then she has produced three more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015) and Never on Saturday (2017).
Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.
The Ghostly Father: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, Apple iBooks, GooglePlay
Nice Girls Don’t: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, Apple iBooks
The Unkindest Cut of All: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook, Apple iBooks
Never on Saturday: now available for pre-order
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction, a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist, 2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist, 2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist, and Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.