Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I’d like to welcome Sue Barnard and hope you enjoy reading her guest post as much as I did – thank you for writing it and allowing me to share it, Sue! Read on to discover what she has to say, more about her and her book The Ghostly Father followed by the chance to win yourself a signed copy of it if you live in the UK!
For someone whose main passion is writing, I suppose it’s strange to recollect that in the early days it was something I dreaded. Those awful compulsory “Composition” exercises (as they were then called) at primary school are a fine example of how being forced to do something as a child can all too easily result in being put off it for life. It was only during my final year at primary school, when I surprised myself by winning a competition for writing an essay about chocolate, that I realised it might have some merit after all.
Even so, for many years after that, I never considered myself a writer. Although I enjoyed pottering about with poems, short stories, articles for the parish magazine, and the occasional stroppy letter to The Times, that was as far as it ever went – until a life-changing event in 2004 forced me to begin taking my writing much more seriously. At that point I took a few courses in Creative Writing (some with the Open University, others run by other writers who have since become close friends). These courses also provided a valuable bonus in the form of teaching me how to critique and edit other writers’ work, and this was to stand me in good stead when I subsequently applied to become an editor. But at that stage I still had no thoughts of writing a full-length novel. That milestone appeared a couple of years later, when I came across one of those lists of Things You Must Do Before You Die. Most of them were pretty underwhelming, and in any case I’m not planning on dying any time soon – but the one which leapt out at me was Write The Book You Want To Read.
In the thirty-odd years since I first saw Franco Zeffirelli’s amazing film of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, I’ve often wondered why the world’s most famous love story should also be the most heartbreakingly tragic. The book I’ve always wanted to read is the alternative version of the tale – the one which gives the young lovers the happy ending which was denied them in the original story. 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, first published by Crooked Cat Books on St Valentine’s Day 2014, and recently revised and re-released under a new imprint (Ocelot Press). The story is told from the point of view of the Friar (the eponymous Ghostly Father) and is part-prequel, part-sequel to the original Romeo & Juliet story. When I started out I was writing it just for myself, because it was the ending I’ve always wanted, but judging by the number of people who have bought it, read it, and been kind enough to say they’ve enjoyed it, it appears that I’m not by any means the only person who prefers the alternative ending.
Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet. She was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium, but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University she had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “Non-Working Mother” would be banned from the English language.
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 speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad. She is also very interested in family history. Her own background is far stranger than any work of fiction; she would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.
Social Media Links –
The Ghostly Father
Was this what really happened to Romeo & Juliet?
Think you know the world’s most famous love story? Think again. What if the story of Romeo & Juliet really happened – but not quite in the way we’ve all been told?
This part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale, told from the point of view of the Friar, tells how an ancient Italian manuscript reveals secrets and lies which have remained hidden for hundreds of years, and casts new doubts on the official story of Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers.
If you love the Romeo & Juliet story but are disappointed with the way it ended, this is the book for you.
Kindle (universal link): mybook.to/the-ghostly-father
Win a signed copy of The Ghostly Father (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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.
Many thanks to Sue Barnard and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing content for this post and organising the tour it is part of.