I am delighted to be welcoming Barbara Copperthwaite to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books today, as she joins me to talk about her favourite books and authors.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and many others were read voraciously by me. I always – and I mean always – had my head stuck in a book. I even had favourite trees to climb, and then sit reading undisturbed on a branch.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I absolutely loved English as a child, and into my teens, but I do admit to feeling bored of the books we were made to read at GCSE and A-level. I simply didn’t connect with them.
For two years solid I actively avoided Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, despite writing numerous essays on it for GCSE English Lit. Imagine my dismay when I took A-level English Lit and was given Great Expectations again! Finally, I read it – and fell in love. It’s one of my all-time favourite books, being both tragic, funny, and incredible emotional. The character arc Pip goes through is beautifully drawn.
I hated John Clare’s poetry, too, at A-level. Only the other week I bought myself a book of his poems, as I now adore them. Funny how life goes.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read loads of crime, it goes without saying, and I recommend great books on my website, but I love reading all genres. I really enjoy historical non-fiction, especially but not exclusively the late medieval period. I keep threatening to write historical fiction one of these days!
John Lewis Stempel’s writing about nature is simply stunning, and books on the environment are another non-fiction genre I read a lot of. My love of nature definitely filters through to my writing, and helps to create atmosphere. Much of my imagery is often base around wildlife, too, I’ve noticed.
I will read pretty much any genre, though: science fiction, contemporary literature, horror, modern fairytales, the occasional bit of chick lit… Why limit yourself to one genre when there are so many fabulous tales to enjoy? Everything I read almost certainly subtly influences my writing.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
As I mentioned, I’d like to try my hand at writing a historical fiction novel one day, though I’m not sure I’ll ever find the time. Also, I think it would be fun to write a non-fiction book about nature, simply to share my passion and try to encourage others to engage with the environment around them.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
There was no bolt from the blue that urged me to write a novel, it was more a desire that built slowly. For years I read fabulous books and never even contemplated trying to create one myself. But I had an idea for a book, and the more I ignored it, the more it jumped up and down shouting: ‘Look at me, look at me!’
Then one day I read Engleby by Sebastian Faulks, and it took my breath away. The fact that it concentrated solely on one very quirky character and built so slowly, but so inexorably, was like nothing I’d experienced before. I can’t explain why, but something inside me clicked, and I suddenly felt inspired to start my own, very shabby, attempt at a novel. It eventually (after a lot of work and rewrites) became the first book I published, Invisible.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Peter Swanson, without a doubt. It’s no secret that I love his work, as I never shut up about it! All his books are twisted tales featuring brilliant characters. He’s so different from anyone else out there at the moment.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Pretty much every book I read makes me think that!
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not specifically. I’ve been a journalist for twenty-plus years, and in many ways my books are all inspired by every single woman I’ve interviewed whose partners were having affairs but they didn’t realise; by those who were conned by emotionally manipulative men into believing they were part of a loving relationship that then turned abusive and they lived in fear of being killed by their own partner; and by those who discovered their partner had killed someone (and yes, I’ve interviewed plenty of those. One poor woman even walked in on her husband dismembering someone).
Some people fight back, some people fall apart, others plot slow, cold revenge; there is no way of telling how anyone will react. Of course, it also made me question how well any of us ever know anyone, particularly as I’ve also worked briefly in a men’s prison and met a number of charming men who were rapists and killers. Let me tell you now: you cannot tell someone is capable of evil.
I think that’s why I love exploring emotions so much, and discovering through my storylines what makes ordinary people do extraordinary things, and how far someone can be pushed before they bend and break.
A huge thank you Barbara for taking part. Great answers. Engleby has been on my TBR list for ages and I really must get round to reading it.
Barbara’s latest book Her Last Secret is published on 13th October 2017. Here’s what it’s about…
The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.
They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.
But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.
But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.
Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?
This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Sometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.
About Barbara Copperthwaite
Barbara Copperthwaite is the international best-selling author of psychological crime thrillers Invisible, Flowers For The Dead, and The Darkest Lies. Her new novel, Her Last Secret, will be published on Friday 13th October, and is available for pre-order now.
She credits much of her success to her twenty-plus years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are gritty, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions. It’s what has made her a USA Today bestseller.
When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.
TWITTER: @BCopperthwait https://twitter.com/BCopperthwait
AMAZON UK http://amzn.eu/5Kup5kw
AMAZON US http://a.co/hOQdqJn