Interview with an author: Sue Barnard

Sue Barnard author picI’m delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author Sue Barnard to my blog. Her novel, ‘The Ghostly Father’, is an interesting take on ‘Romeo and Juliet’, with a postmodern twist. It’s a fascinating idea for a novel.

Here is the blurb:

Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened?

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome…

What are the main ideas or themes in your book?

The main theme of The Ghostly Father is one of forgiveness and reconciliation. This is portrayed not just with reference to the infamous feud between the Montagues and the Capulets (who have Italian names in this version), but also, on a more personal level, by the way the main character comes to terms with his own demons.

TGF Front Cover

What is the setting or context of the narrative? Why is it important?

The setting of the main story is 15th-16th century Italy – specifically Venice, Verona and (briefly) Mantua. The context is vital because it’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet story, which is set in Verona. There is also a present-day narrator (also called Juliet) whose comments provide a modern framework for the story.

Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.

Romeo and Juliet – the original star-cross’d lovers – need no introduction. But the book concentrates mostly on the character of Friar Lawrence (Lorenzo), who has a number of significant issues and dilemmas of his own. I can’t say a great deal about those here, because it would give too much away, but suffice it to say that he didn’t willingly become a Friar…

He’s a very interesting character, I agree. His strange decisions in Shakespeare’s play are intriguing, and keep the story moving. He is definitely an ambiguous character.Why did you write this novel? Any other issues or ‘big ideas’ behind it?

It was in answer to the exhortation Write the book you want to read. When I first wrote the book, I was writing it originally for myself. I wanted to give Romeo and Juliet an alternative ending to their story – one that I could read privately, and in doing so, be able to think that perhaps things might have worked out for them after all. But judging by the way the book has been selling, it seems as though lots of other people also want to think the same way!

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

I’d like to be able to say I sit down and plan things out beforehand, but that would only be partly true. I start out with an idea, but the writing itself is very haphazard. And sometimes the characters themselves take me completely by surprise. In my novel Nice Girls Don’t (due out later this year) one of the characters said something which I hadn’t anticipated, and which went on to change the entire course of the subplot! Which was probably just as well, because with hindsight I don’t think my original idea would have worked.

I like plot and characters that are malleable too, and am always open to change half-way through writing. What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

Keep at it. The more you write, the more you will learn. And find some writing buddies (either online or in a writing group). It’s very easy to lose all sense of objectivity with your own stuff – a fresh pair of eyes can work wonders.

Sound advice. What are you working on next?

I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal, so I’m having a go at something in that genre. It’s still very much at the concept stage, though!

If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?


Absolutely right. Thanks for your thoughtful answers, Sue, and good luck with the novel.   If you’d like to read ‘The Ghostly Father’ then please click on the cover image below.

TGF Front Cover



Crooked Cat Books

Sue’s Blog


One thought on “Interview with an author: Sue Barnard”

  1. Half way through it and loving it, Sue. Like you, I started writing by doing my own thing. Books I had from school that were unsatisfactory got re written at home. See? We were authors even back then!


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