This really is my month for catching up on old friends, virtual and real. Finally today, someone who has been to the Bingergread Cottage in real life. Please welcome, Sue Barnard (massive applause from us two, the orphans hooting and whistling plus barking from Lily).
Welcome home, Sue. So, grab a glass and tell us what you have been up to.
Thanks Ailsa. [Pauses to refill glass] A ta santé! (Yach’mat – Breton, reply)
Since I saw you last June, Crooked Cat published my second novel, Nice Girls Don’t. It’s a romantic intrigue set in 1982, and the story centres around a quest to uncover family secrets. My third novel, a murder mystery set during an am-dram production of Julius Caesar, is due out some time this summer – watch this space for more details.
I’m currently working (very slowly!) on a time-slip novel based on an old French legend.
Thank you! I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet, but hated the way it ended. I fumed about it for decades, then a few years ago I came across one of those lists of Things You Should Do Before You Die. The one which leapt out 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 Romeo & Juliet in which the 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.
I wrote the book originally for myself, because it was the ending I wanted – but judging by the number of people who have been kind enough to say they enjoyed it, it seems that I’m not alone in preferring the alternative outcome. One friend said to me recently, “I can now go to Verona and not feel sad.”
You are not only a fellow-author at Crooked Cat but an editor also. How do you find time to fit this in? Which do you prefer doing, if that isn’t an “apples or pears” question?
It is an “apples or pears” question. I love my writing, but when I first thought about becoming an editor, I had two aims in mind. One was an overwhelming desire to channel the interminable rantings of my Inner Pedant into a force for good. The other was that if I couldn’t make it as a writer myself, then perhaps I might be of some small use to those who can. That is what makes editing so worthwhile. And being an editor means I’m never short of good stuff to read! When I’m doing editing work my own writing has to take a back seat for the duration, but I try to add a little to my own WIP each day, even if it’s only a paragraph or two.
How do I find time to fit it all in? W-el-l-l… [Pauses to refill glass again] Can I come back to you on that, when I know the answer?
All that on top of having a home in Anglesey too. How do you divide your time between the two?
The house in Anglesey is about two hours’ drive away from our main home, and we aim to get there every 2-3 weeks – usually from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon. It helps that we both work from home, which means that we’re less constrained than we’d be if we were totally desk-bound.
If we lived nearer to the Channel ports we’d be sorely tempted to have a home in France, but a four- or five-hour drive before we even get off British soil means it just isn’t practical. Tant pis.
What else haven’t I asked you that you’d like to share, Sue? Yes, Lily can have crisps, it’s the cake she hates.
All the more for us, then. [Takes another slice]
To be serious for a moment (yes, I am capable of it occasionally), we have already seen it in Britain and it was Mothering Sunday in the USA last week . Please may I take this opportunity to ask everyone – but especially politicians – to stop referring to full-time mothers as “non-working mothers”? ALL mothers work – and to say otherwise is a downright insult.
[Gets down off soapbox and refills glass again]
Couldn’t agre more! Finally – I assume you’ll be staying the night so we’ll open another bottle, give my friends your links and bio before we stumble off into the back garden to chat privately. I do so enjoy your visits!
Thank you for inviting me. It’s been lovely to chat again. And I’m glad I don’t have to drive home tonight!
Don’t forget your NEW book!!! The Unkindest cut of All
After graduating from Durham University with a degree in French, she returned to Manchester (where she had spent her formative years) and got married, then had a variety of office jobs before leaving the world of paid employment to become a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.
Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first two novels (The Ghostly Father– a new telling of the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet – and the romantic intrigue Nice Girls Don’t) were published by Crooked Cat in 2014. She also writes poetry, and her work has been published in several anthologies of verse.
Sue’s mind is sufficiently warped that she has also worked as a question-setter for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz– a phase of her life which caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” She lives in Cheshire and Anglesey with her husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.