Barbara is the author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Both have been Amazon best sellers. Her latest book, THE DARKEST LIES, came out on 12 May.
Much of her success is thanks to her twenty-odd years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are dark, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.
When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.
Hi Barbara and welcome to Compulsive Readers. Before we start, can you please tell us more about your books and why we should read them?
Because I’ll love you forever if you do? If you need a better reason than that, I like writing psychological thrillers that are more ‘whydunit’ than ‘whodunit’, where I can really get under the skin of characters. I enjoy telling a story from a slightly different perspective, be it from the wife of a rapist, for example, or a serial killer. If you love psychological thrillers that are like nothing else you’ve ever read, then give mine a go.
As you know I absolutely LOVED Adam from Flowers for the Dead – when you were creating him did you think the readers would actually like him (if you haven’t read it yet Adam is a deranged serial killer who murders young women and cuts off their lips!)
Definitely not! He was originally meant to be angry and bitter, but he didn’t feel right, and very quickly evolved into the character he is now as his backstory developed. It was unexpected that I started to feel sorry for him, and I honestly thought I’d be alone in that. When I sent the manuscript to agents, they all said they absolutely loved it, it was unique, well written, had brilliant characterization…but was too big a risk to take on, because readers might hate it in their droves. I was advised to rewrite it, turning it into a traditional police procedural, but Adam’s story was too compelling for me to ignore – so I took a chance and self-published Flowers For The Dead. I’m so glad I did, because it turns out readers LOVE him!
You are possibly the biggest twitterer, reader and blogger on the planet – how do you have time to write new books?
Ha! There’s a lot of juggling that goes on!
I’m a voracious reader, and when I come across a book I love, I can’t keep it to myself. It would be a crime! It’s really satisfying seeing word spread about a brilliant novel, and being part of that. Besides, as an author myself, I know how important it is.
I do need time out for myself, though, so it’s important to be organized. I have a timetable in my phone and I’m like Pavlov’s dog every time an alarm sounds on it, reacting immediately and moving onto the next thing. If I didn’t I’d get totally snowed under (er, actually, I get totally snowed under anyway, but it’s a nice theory!)
I mentioned you being a prolific reader, what 5 books would you recommend we read this year?
Argh! That’s too hard a question because there are so many incredible books out already, and so many more due. But, if forced, I’ll say:
Trust Me, by Angela Clarke
A Patient Fury, by Sarah Ward
The Child, by Fiona Barton
The Second Sister, by Claire Kendal
And perhaps something by Barbara Copperthwaite, as I’ve heard she’s not bad…
You have a fabulous series called Blood Type on your website where you interview other authors, have you had any fangirl moments and if you could interview any author (living or dead) who would you choose and why?
My biggest fangirl moment was when Peter Swanson agreed to take part. I had just finished reading The Kind Worth Killing, and been totally blown away by it. What a book! I loved everything about it. Then I was sent an ARC of Her Every Fear, and loved that, too. I have such a ‘writer’s crush’ on him, as I think his novels are brilliant. So when he tweeted thanking me for my review I was cheeky and asked if he’d do Blood Type. You could have knocked me down with a feather when he said yes!
I’d love to interview Charles Dickens face-to-face. Just imagine! So many fascinating and heartbreaking stories about his childhood, and how that influenced his writing and personality; drawing on his former job as a journalist; his passion for being a spokesperson for the downtrodden – wow, he would be incredible to chat with, before we even got onto his actual writing!
What would you do if you could be invisible for one day? (see how I subliminally plugged your book at the same time?)
Thanks for that!
I’m a total choc-a-holic, so if I were, ahem, Invisible for a day, I’d go to the Hotel Chocolat factory and help myself to all their wonderful goodies.
Describe yourself using the letters in your name Barbara.
Amazed by how hard that was!
Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
No. But I suppose the characters I create are my imaginary friends now.
Who was the last person you texted and what did you type?
My sister: ‘No harmonica. Eating ice-cream instead.’
Finally, what plans have you got for the rest of 2017 and what are you most looking forward to?
This year is one of the most hectic of my life. My next book is penciled to be out in September, and I’m about to start edits on that. At the same time, I’m currently writing the first of a series featuring an investigative journalist, and really enjoying that as it’s a slightly different genre for me, moving away from psychological thrillers to crime. The year will flash by, but I’m loving it because this is my dream come true – so I’m looking forward to the whole thing!