Barbara Copperthwaite



January 2016

A fabulous party

Wow, another week gone – and in just a few days we’ll be in February. How did that happen?!
A week ago today I was at an authors and book bloggers event, held in Birmingham. Writing can be a solitary experience, so it was great fun to meet up with fellow authors and chat about the writing process, plotting murder, the importance of location, and all sorts of things that most people find very dull! If I talk to my partner of sisters about such things they soon change the subject to the weather…
The book bloggers were equally fabulous. Before I started promoting Flowers For The Dead I had never had any contact with book bloggers, so it was a whole new world to me, and I nervously approached a handful asking if they would be interested in reviewing my new book. Several took me up on the offer, making it clear that me giving them a review copy did not in any way guarantee a good review – they would be honest and forthright. It was what I wanted…but I was also scared. What if they hated it? Then again, better I find out sooner than later, after I’d released it and started charging people for it!
So when the reviews came in and were overwhelmingly positive, I was overjoyed, and since then I have got to know some of those who have reviewed me. What a brilliant bunch of people! It’s such a nice feeling to walk into a room of people I’ve never met before, but who I ‘know’ through social media. Recognising them from their profile picture was a surreal experience, but what was especially nice was that everyone is as lovely in real life as they come across on their blogs. The day was wonderful, and I must say a huge thank you to Kim Nash of Kim The Book Worm, who organised the event.
The rest of the week has been spent surreptitiously organising the delivery of a present for my partner, Paul. It’s his birthday on Monday. In between doing that, I did manage to find time to write, you’ll be pleased to hear. After weeks of feeling like I am wading through treacle, things are flowing at last, and I’m excited about the way things are going.
I hope you’ve all had a fab week, too, and are enjoying a wonderful weekend x


The dotty guide to writing

Can you tell what it is yet? My writing is like a dot-to-dot picture

I see a lot of talk amongst writers and interviews of authors about whether they are ‘planners’ or ‘pantsers’, ie do they plot the story meticulously and know exactly what they’re writing before they start writing; or do they sit down, fly by the seat of their pants, and just start writing with no clue as to where the story is heading or how it will end.

But I want to start a new category, mainly because I don’t fall into either of the choices that seem to apply to everyone else. I’m a ‘dot to dotter’.

What does that mean? Well, I don’t have a plan, that’s for sure. But I do have set points within my story that I know I want to happen – so I’m clearly not a ‘pantser’.

I write these key scenes out first, because they are the bits I’m certain of. And besides, I like to do my favourite bits first. After they’re completed, I sit back and ponder for a while about what on earth the structure will be like for the rest of the novel. What are the key themes pulling these points together? What are the characters’ motivations? How will these seemingly unrelated scenes join together to make a book?

Around this point, I generally have a minor panic and worry that I’m a complete failure who is incapable of completing a novel (despite the fact that I’ve written two bestsellers now, I still think this. I don’t believe this fear will ever leave me).

Then I decide that the only thing to do is write my way through the problem. So I sit down and write, with no idea of what will happen, making decisions as I go along. I start at the beginning and write my way up to a previously completed key scene, then on to the next and the next. Slowly I join them together, like a child drawing a line from one point to another in a dot to dot picture, until eventually the final product becomes clear to me.

That dot to dot is the first draft, and after that I can start filling it in properly, rounding it off, adding colours and textures, making it more realistic, creating details and layers that will make it jump from the page. Then, at some point, I will sit back and realise the new novel is complete, and wonder to myself ‘how on earth did you do that?’ The answer: I’m a fly by the seat of my pants plotter who enjoys going dotty…


Review: THE WIDOW, Fiona Barton

The Widow, by Fiona Barton, review by Barbara Copperthwaite


We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.


“So compelling that the pages almost turned themselves”


Barbara Copperthwaite – Author in the Spotlight

Today I’m featured on the wonderful Portobello Book Blog, chatting about life as an author. Huge thanks to Joanne Baird for asking me – it was a real treat! Here’s an extract to entice you, and make sure you pop over to read the rest of the interview, and look around the site, where she has some brilliant book recommendations.

Portobello Book Blog


I’m delighted to welcome Barbara Copperthwaite as my Author in the Spotlight today. I read Barbara’s book Flowers for the Dead last year and thought it was brilliant. You can read my review here: Flowers for the Dead. The book was published on 2nd September 2015 and you can order a copy here.

First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?

Despite writing about crime, I’m actually a very cheery person! But I’ve spent over twenty years as a journalist, interviewing people who have been victims of crime, either directly or through the loss of loved ones. As a result of people bravely and generously sharing their experiences with me, I know a lot about the emotional impact of violence and wrongdoing. That’s why my novels are not simply about the criminal act, but the repercussions they have; people are always at the heart of my…

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Shattering peace with imagination

Bestselling author Barbara Copperthwaite reveals location of her latest novel
Dragonflies abound in the now peaceful setting

Salty creeks meander down to wide mud flats to meet the sea. Wading birds peck busily beside the rusting hulks of ships that were once target practice for fighter jets on this long-abandoned bombing range. Signs warning about unexploded debris sit alongside the delicate beauty of dragonflies and butterflies.

Bestselling author Barbara Copperthwaite reveals location of her latest novel
DANGER: but in my new book, bombs aren’t the most dangerous things to watch out for…
Bestselling author Barbara Copperthwaite reveals location of her latest novel
The rusting hulks of abandoned ships once used for bombing practice can be seen in the distance

This is Friskney marsh, and it is the location for much of the action in the crime thriller I am currently writing (my third stand alone novel). It is such an atmospheric, haunting place that I couldn’t resist setting a story here – or at least in a fictitious approximation of it, where its peace is shattered by lies, betrayal, and murder.

The reality is very different, of course. I grew up in the village of Friskney, which abuts the marsh, and have many fond memories of living in a rural location where the peace was shattered regularly by the ear-splitting sound of jets breaking the sound barrier overhead, immediately before dropping their bombs just a couple of miles from the garden I played in.

When I was twelve, we moved nine miles down the road to Skegness. But now I’m revisiting the place of my early childhood – and giving it a sinister twist. I think growing up with the juxtaposition of peace constantly broken by the sounds of war (albeit it ‘practise’ war) made it inevitable that one day I would set one of my books here.

Bestselling author Barbara Copperthwaite reveals location of her latest novel
Friskney marsh
Bestselling author Barbara Copperthwaite reveals location of her latest novel
The glorious Common Blue butterfly flits over Friskney marsh

We can be Heroes


Like pretty much everyone yesterday, I felt total shock when I woke to the news that David Bowie had died. My first reaction was to say ‘no’ out loud. As if voicing the denial would make it any less a fact. Then I cried. I wasn’t even sure why, if I’m honest. Yes, it was a shock, and yes, I do like his music, but I’ve never been a superfan by any means. In fact (whispers) I don’t own a single album of his. Not. A. One.

So why was I so upset that I found it hard to concentrate for the rest of the day? Was I caught up in some sort of mass hysteria? If so, I was failing at that, too – I wasn’t wailing and gnashing my teeth, just distracted and prone to the odd tear here and there. Why?

It was because the world had lost a fabulous artist and unique talent. Love him or hate him, Bowie could never be ignored or denied, no matter what persona he was using. He had the courage of his convictions, and the willingness to be different and push boundaries. He stayed true to himself. Even as a child, he was described as being exceptionally single-minded.

By mid-way through the afternoon, I decided that was what I was going to take from this sad loss. We should, each and every one of us, decide what we want and go after it. Don’t listen to doubt, but instead have calm confidence. Don’t be afraid to be different. Have the courage of our convictions and push through. Be single-minded – and one day our dream might just come true. Because Bowie was right: we really can be heroes. The heroes of our own stories…perhaps for even longer than just one day.

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