Write The Book You Want To Read by guest author Sue Barnard
I am happy to have the talented author, Susan Barnard visiting my blog today to tell us about her writing journey. It is always interestng to learn how writers became authors. Over to you, Sue.
It all began way back in 2012, with a surprising prompt: Write The Book You Want To Read.
In the thirty-odd years since I first saw Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the book I’d always wanted to read is the alternative version of the story, 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.
Although I’ve dabbled with writing for as long as I can remember, until that point I’d never attempted anything more ambitious than poems, short stories, articles for the parish magazine, or the occasional stroppy letter to The Times. The thought of tackling a full-length novel, even on a subject about which I felt so strongly, was a daunting prospect.
But the idea wouldn’t go away. Go on, said that persistent voice in my head. Just do it. Think about the story, and ask yourself: What if things had worked out differently? Can you manage to give Romeo and Juliet their happy ending?
The eventual result was my debut novel, The Ghostly Father, which was first published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014. It’s a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original story, but with a few new twists and a whole new outcome. The basic idea is quite simple: What if the story of Romeo and Juliet really did happen, but what if it didn’t happen quite the way we think it did?
I returned to the “What If…?” idea for my latest book, Heathcliff, also published by Crooked Cat Books. Heathcliff was officially launched on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë. It’s a Wuthering Heights spin-off novel which speculates what might have happened to Heathcliff during the three years when he disappears from the original story – something which Emily Brontë left tantalisingly unexplained.
After hearing his love say him “Nay”,
he runs, broken-hearted, away.
Three years later he’s back,
having made quite a stack.
What went on in between? Who can say?
What if Heathcliff had…
No, I mustn’t say any more, for fear of revealing spoilers…
“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now…”
Cathy’s immortal words from Wuthering Heights change 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. Until now…
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 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 joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her 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 four more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015), Never on Saturday (2017) and Heathcliff (a Wuthering Heights spin-off story about Heathcliff’s missing years, published on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë).