I’m very excited today to welcome my friend, editor and fellow Darkstroke author, Sue Barnard to my blog. I met Sue at my first ever writing workshop, and we’ve been friends ever since!
Why do I write?
Sometimes I find myself asking the same question. Being a writer has sometimes been compared to having homework every night for the rest of your life. The difference, I suppose, is that (for the most part, at any rate) as a writer you can choose what you write about, and you aren’t forced to deal with subjects which you find difficult or uninteresting. I’m happy to say I gave up on that years ago. Life is too short.
I never actually set out to be a writer – or at least, I never set out to be a writer that anyone might possibly want to read. Writing was something which was always there in the background, in the form of varied attempts at short stories, poems, articles for the parish magazine, or the occasional letter to The Times, but it stayed in the background until a life-changing event in 2004 prompted me to start taking it more seriously. That was when I realised I had a story to tell (albeit for a very specific readership at that point), and I needed to know how to tell it.
With this in mind I did several courses in Creative Writing in its various forms, but my output remained very limited, until I came across one of those lists of Things You Should Do Before You Die. Most of them were pretty unappealing (and at any rate I’m not planning on dying any time soon), but the one which leapt out at me was Write The Book You Want To Read.
It’s now more than forty years since I first saw Franco Zeffirelli’s amazing film of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, but for all that time I’ve been haunted by the thought that the world’s greatest love story should have such a tragic ending. The book I’ve always wanted to read is the alternative version of the story: the one in which the young lovers don’t fall victim to a maddeningly-preventable catastrophe. 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 already exist, then go ahead and write it.
Here, at last, was the incentive to start writing properly: a tangible reason to write a full-blown novel. Even so, at that stage, publication could hardly have been further from my mind. I was writing the story just for myself, because it was the ending I’ve always wanted.
And I suppose that’s how (and why) it all started. The eventual result of this self-imposed challenge was The Ghostly Father, which was first published in 2014. Since then, the number of people who have bought it, read it, and been kind enough to say they’ve enjoyed it leads me to believe I’m not by any means the only one who prefers the alternative outcome.
Seven years, five novels, various short stories and a motley selection of poems later, my reasons for writing remain the same now as they did when I started on this amazing journey. I write mainly for myself, but dare to hope that what I produce might be interesting, entertaining and (occasionally) amusing to anyone who ventures to read it.
About the Author:
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 some time during the last millennium. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad. Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled 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 now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.
Author and Editor at Darkstroke and Ocelot Press
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NOVELS: The Ghostly Father The Unkindest Cut of All Never on Saturday Heathcliff:The Missing Years
Nice Girls Don’t & Finding Nina: new editions coming soon
ANTHOLOGIES: Dark London Doorways to the Past Dark Scotland
AUDIOBOOKS: The Ghostly Father