Blakely’s Friday Interview with Judith Barrow

Please give a warm welcome to Judith Barrow, author of Changing Patterns. Make sure to check the bottom of the page for a giveaway.

2Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
My name is Judith Barrow, and I feel that, finally, I can say I am an author. A lifelong ambition. I grew up in a small village in the Pennines, North West England and for the last thirty four years, have lived with my husband, David, and my family in Wales. Currently I am promoting Changing Patterns, the sequel to my first book, Pattern of Shadow.

What genre is your book? Do you write in other genres as well?
Pattern of Shadows and Changing Patterns (which came out earlier this month) could be described as sagas, the life stories of my characters. But, because they’re written during WW2 and in the fifties I think of them as Historical fiction as well. And there again there’s also touches of romance and crime … so, in the end I leave it to the reader to decide.

I have also written a book that is fictional but based on fact. Silent Trauma is a story of four women affected in different ways by a drug. Stilboestrol is an artificial oestrogen prescribed to women between the decades of the nineteen forties and seventies, ostensibly to prevent miscarriages. Not only was it ultimately proved to be ineffectual it also caused drastic and tragic damage to the daughters of the women. I learned about the charity (DES Action) some years ago through a relative and became involved.

Your next question – “Who or what inspires you?” – could be covered by the reason I wrote Silent Trauma. I was inspired after I wrote an article for the annual newsletter and the mothers and daughters, affected by the drug, began to contact me. The characters in the book are a mixture of all the women I have spoken to.

Do you have an agent and/or publisher or are you self-published? If self-published, do you use a professional editor? If traditionally published, who is your publisher?
I don’t have an agent. I did but we had different ideas on what would work for me so I decided to go it alone. It’s worked out well. Honno, a small independent publisher took me on for Pattern of Shadows and Changing Patterns and it’s working well. I self -published Silent Trauma because I’d been trying traditional publishers for years and they were wary of what they called “an issue-led novel”. I donate ten per cent of the royalties to the charity.

What advice do you have for writer’s just starting out?
Join a writing group or class if you can (I run one or two in Pembrokeshire where I live and it always amazes me how much untapped and unrecognized talent there is) The main thing I would advise is to listen to feedback, take it on board, and then use as you wish, always remembering opinion is subjective.

What does your writing space look like?
Now our children are grown and flown, I’m lucky enough to have my own study. It’s an L-shaped room with one end for my writing and the other for my painting (purely a hobby). The ceiling slopes and has two Velux windows to give me as much light as possible. I have units and shelves for all my files and folders of material for teaching creative writing and a lovely big desk. I am very lucky to have my own space. From my window I look out over the roofs of a couple of houses and then over fields filled with tree and a few grazing horse. I know that just beyond the horizon there is the sea. I can’t see it but I know it’s there.

What are your three favorite books including the authors?
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou. And anything by Pat Barker, which also answers your next question “ Who is your favorite author and why?” I think her writing is so complex; she mixes absolutely exquisite description with dialogue that is so believable the reader lives within the internal lives of each of her characters. I am, and have been for a long time, a real fan of her work.

What project are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished a novella, The Memory, the story of a woman living with her mother who has dementia. Something I have personal experience of. It started out as a memoir/ short story and finished up as a thirty-four thousand novella. I’ve never written one before. I’m now starting the outline of the third book that will follow Pattern of Shadows and Changing Patterns.

Is being an author your dream job? If so, how long have you been chasing the dream?
Yes. And too many years to mention.

What has been your best moment as a writer?
Holding Pattern of Shadows before my first reading in front of an audience. Feeling sick with nerves – yet ecstatic at the same time.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?
Too many to mention – but mainly my own lack of confidence and belief that I could actually write.

How much time a day do you spend on social media?
It varies. Initially not a lot. Nowadays I find myself drawn in. I want to read everybody’s blog and look at all the websites and answer all the posts on Facebook and Twitter. Not long ago I was ‘Unfriended’ on Facebook by a ‘real life’ friend because of all the shares I was putting on my Timeline. She said I was doing too much; it cluttered up her page. It threw me for a while – perhaps there is a balance I’ve yet to find.

Do you read your reviews and if so, how do you cope with a bad one?
Yes. And take it on the chin. Evaluate it. If I think it’s warranted I bear it in mind for the next WIP.

I have found the writer’s community to be very supportive and welcoming.  Please share three writers that you recommend for us to check out.

  1. Juliet Greenwood – website, Facebook, Twitter
  2. H E Joyce – website, Facebook, Twitter
  3. Kim Cresswell – website, Facebook, Twitter

Please be sure to friend Judith Barrow on Facebook, follow on Twitter and check out her website. Honno Press has a fabulous Facebook giveaway for both wonderful WWII novels by Judith Barrow! Like and/or share Honno Press FB page for a chance to win.

Click on the cover to buy Changing Patterns.

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