Sue Barnard - novelist, editor, poet, RNA member, lady of letters. Believes that an immaculate house is a sign of a wasted life.
With the exception of guest posts, all work on this blog remains the copyright of the author. And, quite frankly, it's very noble of her to take the blame for it.
My guest today is my friend and fellow-author Sue Roebuck. I had the pleasure of working with Sue as editor of her forthcoming novel Forest Dancer, which will be released by Crooked Cat Books on 20th February. If you want to be transported to Portugal without leaving your armchair, this is definitely the book for you.
Thank you, Sue, for inviting me to
your blog today.
prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?
The first thing I wrote was probably what prompted me to write
in the first place. I was fourteen and my
illustrated (!) book filled a whole notebook and was about villagers in the
south of England during WWII who were trying to get rid of an army training
camp. I blame my brother for this – he named the characters (Willy Wormtongue
being one of them). I DID win the class prize for it though.
you summarise your latest work in just a few words?
Forest Dancer’s main character, Flora
Gatehouse, a classical ballerina with a London company, has recently lost her
father, but she also suffers a blow when she fails an audition. She moves to a
small cottage which her father has left her, in the magical fairytale hills
just west of Lisbon. She endeavours to embrace the life in the small village
with its dark secrets, and she falls for the forest ranger, Marco. But isn’t he
married? And can she ever reconnect with her dream to be a principal ballerina?
you do any research for the book?
Oh yes! I know nothing of ballet nor
forests so I did extensive research online and in the local library. No-one’s
complained so far, so I must’ve got it right.
You didn't know anything about ballet? I find that very hard to believe. From the way you described it, I was sure you must have been a ballerina yourself!
you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?
Both really. My first draft is
definitely the latter. When I go back to do the second edit I find so many
inconsistencies that I generally work out the plot afterwards (I’ve always been
known as back-to-front).
has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?
The best is when the story is
developing and I know exactly what’s going to happen. Hours pass without me
noticing them – it’s a lovely feeling because when I “come to” I feel so
The worst part is getting stuck down
a dead end. I’ve learnt that sometimes this can be solved by changing the point
of view or making a minor character a major one.
Some people talk about “writers
block” which is awful. From experience I think there are many issues that cause
1. You’re tired and your brain’s had enough.
2. You’ve suffered something
stressful – like a bereavement – and, again, you can’t think of anything else
3. You’re scared. (This is my theory, remember). You’re scared you’re
going to sit down at the computer and stare at a blank screen. From experience
– this hasn’t happened. I force myself to sit down and I might write rubbish,
but at least I write. But, also there’s often a little gem in that rubbish.
book is published and ‘out there’ how do you feel?
Scared that no-one’s going to read it. I think we all have that fear about our own work!
you have any advice for new writers?
Don’t expect to get rich from
writing. I know it’s “old hat” advice but don’t give up the day job.
Expect to be rejected and try and
cope with how that feels. You do hear of authors getting accepted by publishers
on their first try, but it’s rare…very rare.
Expect to receive bad reviews once
your book is pubished and never respond to them. We can’t all like the same
things, can we? I don’t like Star Wars – there, I’ve said it! Absolutely. I can't abide soap operas or reality TV, and I've never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones!
we expect from you in the future?
Forest Dancer is the second in the “Portuguese
series” (although the only thing the books have in common is that they’re set
in Portugal, so they stand alone really).
The first book was Rising Tide, which is set in a
small fishing village on the Alentejo coast. Leo, a deep sea fisherman from
Alaska, and Piper, a coastal fisherman from Norfolk, UK, come to the village
The third book (which will be published by Crooked
Cat Books later in 2018) is about a farrier, Joseph Barnaby from the UK, who
has to run from a horse-racing mafia who are out for his blood. Joseph wants to
be somewhere “at the end of the world” and lands up on a tiny stretch of land
on the coast of the Island of Madeira.
Forest Dancer (paperback and ebook) on Amazon : myBook.to/ForestDancer1