Today we sit down with British author and blogger Judith Barrow. She is going to share her work with us and tell us a bit about herself, her inspiration, and the concluding book of her trilogy. Please enjoy.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
JB: Living in the Shadows is the third and last of the trilogy. It’s a family saga that crosses over into history and crime genres.
DM: Can you summarize your book a short sentence?
JB: It’s the 1960s, and this generation has to deal with the past actions of their parents; they have no idea what dangers they face from a common enemy.
DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
JB: It’s a women’s fiction (although men have read it as well!)
Why they should read it? Well, it’s the last of the trilogy and the secrets that have haunted the Howarth family since the Second World War finally come to the surface. It’s a dangerous revelation, brought about by one coincidence, and brings together the numerous storylines that are threaded throughout the first two books towards the final conclusion. Throw in all that the 1960s meant to society and I think it’s a good read. Living in the Shadows has been described as a “hard-to-put-down-till-over book”.
DM: How did you come up with the title?
JB: I decided on the title because it’s how I feel the next generation lives and deals with the secrets that will make their lives implode. And I wanted the title to reflect the other titles of the trilogy.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?
JB: As they have throughout the trilogy, my publishers gave me two images, background scenes and photographs of people from each era. With Living in the Shadows there is just one figure, a young woman who typifies the sixties with her hairstyle and clothes. I also wanted to keep the sepia effect that the others have.
DM: What are your biggest writing influences?
JB: I’ve always written; I couldn’t help it. Influences? Hmm; as a child, and I suppose like many others, I wanted to write like Enid Blyton. When I was older I adored all the Catherine Cookson books. Nowadays I’m inspired by any author who writes a great story.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
JB: My protagonist, Mary Howarth, who has been the central character throughout the trilogy. She lives within the shadows of her family’s expectations of her – a pattern that rules her life. Most of all she lives within the shadow of her own loyalties. I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our expectations and those of other people. But ultimately she goes her own way
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
JB: That has to be Frank Shuttleworth. He epitomises all I dislike about a person; he’s a bully, he manipulates those around him, he’s sly and he’s violent. Writing the parts of the story that involved him was difficult for various reasons. But he is what he is
DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
JB: That’s difficult; I need some time to think about that. Hmm, okay… a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ here; I’d like more reviews on it. Because that would mean I’d learn from a larger cross-section of readers and know where to strengthen my writing … and where I’m getting it right. Other than that, I’ve done my best to write a decent story and, after numerous edits, I think I wouldn’t know what to change.
DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?
JB: Fun fact? Well, not sure it’s fun but I once had an agent who decided to send my work to a commercial editor who changed the whole manuscript so it read as a chicklit. Not my style or genre at all. The agent and I soon parted company.
Oh, and once, giving a talk about the first book of the trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, and the research I did on the first German POW camp which is the main setting of the book, I was told by a member of the audience that her family used to send parcels to an ex POW in Germany whom they’d befriended. In 1951 he wrote to say he didn’t like the sweets they included– please don’t send any more. As this was before sweet rationing finished they were puzzled and asked him to describe them. Turned out he’d been eating Oxo cubes.
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
JB: Family sagas are always about families who have passions, live through difficult times and go through shifting fortunes.
DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
JB: Hmm. Well I paint when I can and am rather good at seascapes if I say so myself. And I tutor creative writing and I’ve helped quite a few people get published one way or another. And I have an old collection of every Dickens’ building that is in his books that I can’t bear to part with. The number of times I’ve taken them to car boot sales… and not put them out for sale!
DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?
JB: This is me:
And my books:
Pattern of Shadows:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Riznh1
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1U1XmYD
Living in the Shadows:
Barnes &Noble: http://bit.ly/1pHmeIh
Or from: http://www.honno.co.uk/
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
JB: I’m writing the prequel to the trilogy, which is the story of the protagonist, Mary Howarth’s, parents, Bill and Winifred. Working title Foreshadowing.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
JB: Review… please … just review. Especially on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you, very grateful.
DM; Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
JB: Write, edit, edit, edit. Send out to as many agents and publishers who take on or publish writers who write in the same genre as you. And remember, it’s all subjective. If one person doesn’t like your work, someone else will.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?
JB: Glad to:
The man who filled the doorway was short but stocky; his thinning curly hair a mixture of grey and ginger. Wearing slacks and an open-necked shirt to show off a heavy gold sovereign chain around his neck, he had an astrakhan coat slung over his shoulders. He was what Linda’s dad, in his old-fashioned way, would call a bit of a spiv.
‘I’m sorry, no visitors at this time of the day.’ Linda dried her hands and dropped the used towel in the bin under the basin.
‘I’ve paid for a private room, she’s my wife, and I’ll visit when I want.’ He didn’t look at Linda; his eyes fixed on the woman in the bed who was ineffectually jiggling the now screaming baby.
Linda flushed at the abrupt rudeness. ‘I’m sorry, but no. Your wife needs some privacy and anyway the rules are the same for everyone. Visiting time is —’
‘When I say it is.’ Still he didn’t turn towards her, but his ruddy cheeks reddened even more.
It was the anxiety on Harriet Worth’s face that made Linda step between the man and the bed. She was the same height as him and met his glare. But there was something about him that caused her throat to tighten. She stared at the scar on his cheek, shaped like a half-moon, at his nose, crooked from an old break and she sucked in a shocked breath, suddenly aware that she was on her own in a room with a man that, for some unknown reason, she was afraid of.
‘You’re in my way.’ Narrowing his eyes, he gripped her arm, his fingers pinching.
‘George, please… Nurse?’ Harriet’s voice shook as she raised her voice above the crying. ‘I’m sorry. Just this once?’
Linda took another jagged breath, held it, let it go, forced herself to sound calm. ‘Okay. But that baby needs feeding. I’ll be back in five minutes.’ The man released his grasp when she stepped to one side.
Holding on to the bedrail he bent towards his wife. The baby quietened as though listening. ‘Don’t apologise for me, do you hear? Never apologise for me.’
‘I’m sorry, George.’
‘Think on then.’
The threat stopped Linda at the door. She looked back at Harriet, who fixed her gaze on her and gave a small shake of her head. Walking stiffly from the room, Linda willed her legs not to give way under her. Sweat prickled her hairline; she thought she would vomit at any moment. She mustn’t be seen in this state; there was no way she wanted to, or even could, explain the unwelcome and strange terrors that seeing the man bullying his wife had dredged up. Diving into a nearby linen room she slid down against the closed door to the floor. Pulling up her knees, she rested her head on them and closed her eyes, willing herself to calm down. When she opened them it was pitch black inside the cramped room. With a small cry she struggled to her feet and fumbled for the switch. The light was momentarily blinding but relief coursed through her.
She’d always been afraid of the dark.
About Judith Barrow
Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, near Oldham,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for thirty four years.
She has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and a MA in Creative Writing with Trinity College, Carmarthen.
She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor.