Judith Barrow

I was born and lived in a place called Saddleworth, a group of villages at the base of the Pennines in Yorkshire, before I moved to Pembrokeshire, West Wales, in 1978. I’d written for many years but never had the courage to send anything out until then. I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. I’ve had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles, notably in several Honno anthologies. I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Adult Learning for Pembrokeshire County Council and run workshops on all genres.

1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I’ve written since I was a child; it was a way to escape. My father was the head of the household; what he said was the rule. I didn’t always like it and hid in my writing.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I’m usually up at five, resist looking at any social media until I’ve put 1000 words on the page or when two hours has passed. If I don’t have any classes later I’ll carry on writing. Otherwise it’s time to start on the domestic trivia of the day and hope to get back to writing later. I always try to get an hour in at my desk in the evening.

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’ve never had writers’ block – there are always voices in my head. Oh dear that does sound odd, doesn’t it. But that’s the reality – too many characters wanting to be written about.

4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Bit of both. I know what I want to happen but sometimes the characters won’t do what I want and I have to change track. It’s those voices again!!

5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? I’m both. My trilogy is traditionally published by Honno. I do have a self-published book which is fiction built on fact around a charity I’ve been aware of for years, about a drug that affected many women. I couldn’t get it published for a couple of reasons (according to publishers) ‘people wouldn’t be interest in an ‘issue based novel’ – and – ‘it would only interest a small readership’. Think it might have been the fear of being sued; so I put the house in my husband’s name and Indie published it. To any aspiring writer? Write what’s in your heart – not what others want you to write; you’ll get to where you want to be in the end.

6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? It will always be holding that first ‘properly’ published book in my hand, like most authors. But the real highlight was giving a copy to my mother, who greeted it with, “Well, it took you long enough.” She was right!

7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Living in the Shadows is the last of my trilogy. The first, Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, a town in Lancashire in the North of England, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country. The sequel, Changing Patterns, is a stand-alone book but also continues with the story. Living in the Shadows, which has just been published, is the story of how the next generation lives with the consequences of the actions of their parents. I’m now writing the prequel.

8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? I hope it’s a general readership; comments as I go around to various events, tell me that.. But initially  I was writing for women. The books are a crossover between historical fiction, family saga and crime genre.

9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Spare time!! Hmm … well, I read … and I review for #RBRT. I walk around the wonderful Pembrokeshire coastline with my husband. I garden. Oh and I promote and take bookings for out holiday apartment.

10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books?(What to do and what not to do.) Right! Well, it’s taken me a long time to build up a platform and I still consider I’m learning from all the wonderful people I’m in touch with through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. So the first thing to say is take time, choose carefully who you want to be in touch with. Not for what they can do for you, but whether you like/ are interested in/ can add to what they are posting. It’s a long slog! On a personal basis, two things I don’t like – automated tweets (though I know they save time for many people – but seeing the repetition of them irks and allows me in my conscience to unfollow) and constant emails that tell me when someone who I’ve just found online, has new books out. I don’t do it and I resent seeing them cluttering up the mail inbox first thing in a morning. Best thing for me is the personal, ‘getting out there’ talks And Q&As and book- signings. It makes me feel that I’m giving something back. Readers are good enough to find me– I should be willing enough to go out and meet them. My husband says he doesn’t know what happened to the quiet, shy girl he married. I tell him I grew up! Hah!

11.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about. I’m lucky with my publishers; they always give me a choice. Often it’s been two photographs made in to one that decides on the end result. I chose the cover for Pattern of Shadows because the girl in the picture looks like my Mum  did when she was young. And the background is of a scene from a POW camp. Changing Patterns id a street scene of the fifties the time the book is set. The three women are as I imagined, Mary Howarth, the protagonist of the novel, would look like. Looking at the cover, Mary  is in the middle with her sister, Ellen on there right, and her friend and sister-in-law, Jean, on the left. With Living in the Shadows, the girl in the foreground is Linda Booth, niece to Mary. The background is a Northern town in 1969.

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