I am delighted to welcome Sue Barnard to Me, My Books and I today.
Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
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. This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t. Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.
Find out more:
How did you come up with the title for The Unkindest Cut of All?
The title is based on a quotation from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The book is set in a theatre during an am-dram production of the play, and the quotation is taken from Mark Antony’s crowd-turning funeral speech after Caesar is murdered. The exact words are “This was the most unkindest cut of all”, but it was generally agreed that this sounded a little clumsy – especially for a book by a writer who is a self-confessed stickler for correct grammar!
Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?
The cover was designed by my publisher, Crooked Cat Publishing. Although the action of the story takes place in the present day, we decided on a design which would link with Ancient Rome, in keeping with the setting of the play.
Who was your favourite character to write and why?
Oh, that’s a tricky one, but I think on reflection it would have to be Brian. As the story is a mystery I can’t say too much about him without giving away the plot, but suffice it to say there is much more to him than first meets the eye!
Is any part of The Unkindest Cut of All based on your own personal experiences?
I’ve done quite a bit of backstage work with my local am-dram, so Sarah’s backstage tasks are based fairly heavily on my own experience. But all the characters – and the plot – are pure invention.
How long did it take you to write The Unkindest Cut of All?
It started out as my NaNo novel for 2012. By the end of November I had a very rough first draft, which I then left untouched whilst I worked on other projects. When I came back to it, it took about three months to edit and revise it before I felt it was ready to submit.
Where is your favourite place to write?
In the summer months I write in my conservatory, which has a lovely view of the back garden – or sometimes in the garden itself. In the winter I move into a room at the front of the house, which has a view of the front garden and the street outside. I know I should shut myself off and find somewhere with no distractions, but I think I’d find that very difficult!
Do you have any writing quirks?
If I get stuck, I find it helps to leave my desk for a little while. Quite often the answer comes to me, quite out of the blue, when I’m in the middle of doing something else. I’ve had some of my best ideas when I’ve been mowing the lawn, and on one occasion a complete stanza of a poem arrived, fully-formed, when I was stuck in a traffic jam. My brain works in very strange ways!
If you could live in any time period, what would it be?
I’ve got too used to the wonders of modern technology to be able to survive without them, so I wouldn’t want to go back to a time without computers, microwave ovens, mobile phones or the Internet! But if I could time-travel, I’d love to meet up with two of my all-time heroes: Mozart and Shakespeare.
Laptop, desktop or tablet?
A peculiar combination of all three. I make notes on my tablet, I write on my laptop, and I print from the desktop.
Good answer! I do exactly the same. Sweet or savoury?
Savoury, every time. If I’m offered the choice of a good cheeseboard or a pile of goodness-knows-what topped with a dollop of shaving cream, there’s just no contest!
Any last words for your readers?
Thank you for buying my books!
Thank you so much for answering my questions Sue, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about your favourite place to write!
Now check out the book:
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Publication Date: 9 June 2015
“Beware the Ides of March…
Brian Wilmer is God’s gift to amateur dramatics – and he knows it. So when the Castlemarsh Players take the ambitious decision to stage Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there is only one man who can play the title role – even though Brian’s posturing ‘prima donna’ attitude has, over the years, won him few friends and many foes.
Rehearsals progress apace, and the production draws ever closer. But when another member of the cast has to drop out due to illness, local journalist Sarah Carmichael (a stalwart of the Players’ backstage crew) suddenly finds herself called upon to step into the breach at the eleventh hour.
Not surprisingly, Sarah finds that Brian is in his egotistical element playing the mighty Caesar. The fact that the final performance of the play takes place on the infamous Ides of March – the day when, according to tradition, Caesar was fatally stabbed – only adds to the excitement.
But tragedy is waiting in the wings. And when it strikes, it falls to Sarah – with the help of Brian’s personable, and fascinating, nephew Martin Burns – to uncover the incredible truth about what really happened…”