Saturday 17 March 2018

#Saturday Shorts – with #Sue Barnard

It's #Saturday Shorts time! 

Today, we get a brief glimpse of Sue Barnard, a fellow Crooked Cat author. We've now been virtual friends for about five years, but I'm delighted to say I've also met Sue in person. Always willing to share her knowledge, Sue is also a brilliant writer, editor and general helper in all things writerly!

Good morning, Sue, and welcome again to my blog. Slip onto that comfy chair and let's get some updates on you and your writing...

Describe yourself in a couple of sentences

I’m a British novelist, poet and editor, and the mother of two grown-up sons. I live in Cheshire with my extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

When is your best time to write?
Afternoons.  Mornings are usually spent catching up on other tasks, and by evening my brain has gone on strike.  But I always keep a pen and paper handy, just in case I get a light-bulb moment when I’m away from my computer.

 Nancy says: That sounds so organised! (* wink, wink- and what every author ought to do! But do I remember?)

Which social media platforms do you find most comfortable to use?
Facebook and (to a lesser extent) Instagram.  I’m gradually getting better with Twitter, but I still find it a struggle.  Some writers swear by it, but I usually end up swearing at it.
Sue Barnard

Nancy: I've not yet joined Instagram but don't count out any social media options. Twitter and I don't get anything at all! 

Please tell us what your latest book is about and its genre.
Heathcliff (due out later in 2018) is a Wuthering Heights spin-off novella which speculates what might have happened to literature’s favourite anti-hero during the three years when he disappears from the original story.  I’ve no idea what genre it falls into (if any!). 

Nancy: That definitely sounds like one I'll love reading. 

Did anything in particular influence you to write it?
It all began with a chance remark from a former school friend:

“Sue, I love the way you’ve based your book on what we did at school.  What are you going to do next?”

We were chatting just after the release of my third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All, which features a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  This was the play we’d studied for English Literature O-Level (as it then was, back in the dark ages before GCSEs).  The novel set for the same exam was Wuthering Heights.

“Well,” I chuckled, “there’s always Heathcliff…”

At the time, it was just a passing joke between two friends who recalled crying on each other’s shoulders as we’d struggled to make sense of the vagaries of the plot, tried (and mostly failed) to decipher Joseph’s incomprehensible dialect, and attempted to understand the book’s complicated inter-personal relationships.  The latter was not made any easier by the characters’ confusing similarity of names.  Emily Brontë had clearly never read the rule-book about this.  Three of the characters have names beginning with the same initial, one of them has a first name which is the same as the surname of another, and two others have the same name entirely!

But somehow, the idea just wouldn’t go away.  I recalled how our teacher explained how “… by having the story narrated by Nelly Dean, Emily Brontë avoids having to tell us exactly what happened to Heathcliff during those missing three years…”

So – what might have happened to him?  Could I try to get into his mind, and write a story which attempts to answer that question?

 Nancy: That's a fabulous reason. 

Did it require any specialised research?
Yes, very much so.  The whole thing proved to be quite a challenge, as the dates in Wuthering Heights are very precise.  Heathcliff disappears from 1780 to 1783.  My first idea was that he could have spent his missing years as a pirate (which would certainly be in keeping with his character!), but I quickly discovered when I started my research that the golden age of piracy was several decades too early.  Then I wondered if perhaps he could have made his fortune in the American or Australian goldrush, but the goldrush years were not until the mid-1800s.  Eventually I did find something which fitted with the correct dates, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what that was!

 Nancy: That's such a tease but I will! 

Who is your main character?
Heathcliff.  Yes, that is THE Heathcliff.

What’s your Heathcliff's greatest weakness?
An inability to forgive those who have hurt him.

What’s your Heathcliff’s greatest strength/s?
I think he has an amazing capacity for love.  It is tragic that this is never fulfilled.

You're an editor for other authors, but do you enjoy editing your own work?

What’s your favourite occupation? (apart from writing!)
I love reading.  As a book editor I’m never short of stuff to read!

Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?
I love the Isle of Anglesey, and go there as often as time permits.  In fact my fourth novel (Never on Saturday) is set partly on the island.

Favourite food and drink?
Where do I start?  It would be much easier and quicker to list what I don’t like!  But if I have to nominate just one of each, then the food would have to be fish, and the drink would be beer.  And it must be a pint.  Halves are for wimps.

Nancy: Spoken like a beer aficionado! I'm drinking an occasional beer since my son-in-law set up Fierce Beer Co with a fellow beer enthusiast. They're too busy creating it to be drinking themselves but I'm enjoying their brilliant combinations of Craft beers.  

Links for Sue's work 
I don’t have a link for Heathcliff yet.  Other books can be found on my Amazon page (see below).

Contact Sue here: 

Blog   Facebook   G+   Twitter   Instagram   Amazon  Goodreads  

Thank you for popping in today, Sue. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Heathcliff. Best wishes for all of your writing projects.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Nancy.

    Update: Heathcliff will be published on 30 July 2018 - the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë.


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