Today I’m on the blog tour for Heathcliff by Sue Barnard and am delighted to bring you an author Q&A and a giveaway!
Mixed: some historical, some contemporary, some romance, some a combination of all three!
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. I’d write a book about it if I thought anybody would believe me.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing for most of my life, but I only began to take it seriously a few years ago, when I came across the prompt Write the book you want to read. I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but felt very frustrated by the ending, and the book I’ve always wanted to read is the alternative version of the tale – 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.
The eventual result was my debut novel, The Ghostly Father.This is a working of the Romeo & Juliet story, told from the point of view of the Friar, but with a few new twists and a whole new outcome.
How many books have you written and published?
Six novels in total: The Ghostly Father, Nice Girls Don’t,The Unkindest Cut of All, Never on Saturday, Heathcliff, and Finding Nina.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
I don’t have a favourite, because they’re all different so I’m not comparing like with like.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
With The Ghostly Fatherand HeathcliffI was working mainly with characters who already existed, so the question of names only arose with any additional characters I created for the stories. In all cases I have to be careful that the names fit with the era when the story is set, so a little judicial research is usually required!
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
I’m fond of all my characters, but I wouldn’t wish my company on any of them!
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one, but I love the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett, the social satire of Sue Townsend, and the detective novels of Dorothy L Sayers and Agatha Christie. I was fourteen when I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which was recommended by my English teacher.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
It was an essay about chocolate, for a schools competition organised by Cadbury’s. I was ten at the time. My prize was a decorative tin containing an assortment of Cadbury’s chocolate. I still have the tin, which now contains pens.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
My day job now is editing books for other writers, but in the past I’ve had a variety of office jobs, including working as Accounts Administrator for an independent bookshop. I’ve also been a question-setter for BBC Radio 4. But my most important job was being a full-time parent, and it constantly infuriates me to see how much this vital role is undervalued. If I were ever invited to appear on Room 101, top of my list would be the phrase “non-working mother” along with anyone who uses it.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
I’d go back just far enough to prevent David Cameron from calling that bloody referendum.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Although I know who my father was, he died before I had the chance to meet him. I’d love to sit down with him for a chat and a pint.
What are your favourite things to do?
Apart from writing, I enjoy reading, walking, classical music, and gardening. Not that they are mutually exclusive; I’ve had some of my best writing ideas when I’ve been out for a walk, or listening to music, or mowing the lawn.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
I once went out for dinner and ended up being sawn in half!
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Enjoy your writing. As Terry Pratchett once said, writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
That Devil Called Love, by Lynda Chater. This is a modern reworking of the Faust legend, told with great perception and humour, in which the heroine finds out the hard way that youth, beauty, wealth and fame don’t necessarily hold the key to lasting happiness. I first read this book when I was in my mid-forties and starting to feel depressed about growing old – and I can honestly say that it changed my whole outlook on life. And it’s such an ingenious concept that I’ve often wished I’d thought of the idea myself.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
My most recent book (published in June 2019) is Finding Nina, which is part-prequel, part-sequel to my second novel Nice Girls Don’t. Both stories are centred on searches for family secrets. My previous novel, Heathcliff, was released in 2018 to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë, and speculates what might have happened to Wuthering Heights’ famous anti-hero during the three years when he disappears from the original story.
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 but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. 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 Connectquiz 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’s first novel, The Ghostly Father(a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet), was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. Since then she has produced five more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All(2015), Never on Saturday(2017), Heathcliff (2018), and Finding Nina(2019).
Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.
It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now…”
Cathy’s immortal words from Wuthering Heightschange Heathcliff’s life. At just seventeen years of age, heartbroken and penniless, he runs away to face an unknown future.
Three years later, he returns – much improved in manners, appearance and prosperity.
But what happened during those years? How could he have made his fortune, from nothing? Who might his parents have been? And what fate turned him into literature’s most famous anti-hero?
For almost two centuries, these questions have remained unanswered.
Where to buy – mybook.to/heathcliff
Win a signed copy of Heathcliff
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
tour hosted by
Rachel’s Random Resources
Massive thanks to Rachel for inviting me on to the tour, and to Sue for providing us with a brilliant Q&A! I love learning more about authors!
Enjoy your day all!