Today I’m delighted to welcome back fellow Crooked Cat author Sue Barnard, who last visited this blog in 2016. Sue has an exciting new book out ….
Welcome, Sue. Tell us about your new novel, Heathcliff. Hmmm, I’m sure I’ve heard that name before …
Hi Tim, and thanks for inviting me back. I think most people have heard of Heathcliff, even if they haven’t read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights or seen one or more of the many TV or film adaptations. Heathcliff has featured in a Kate Bush song, a Monty Python comedy sketch, and goodness knows what else besides. And he’s inspired no end of spin-off stories – including my own latest offering. One of literature’s greatest mysteries is what happened to Heathcliff during the three years when he disappeared from the original story, and my new novel suggests a possible answer to that question. In addition, there is another mystery about Heathcliff himself, which I have also attempted to solve.
Is there any significance in the release date?
Yes. The book was released on 30th July 2018, which was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Brontë. I also found out on the day itself that by a remarkable coincidence, it was also the 60th birthday of Kate Bush, whose haunting 1978 song introduced Heathcliff to a whole new generation, and who more recently contributed to a new art installation to mark the Emily Brontë bicentenary.
What’s next? Do you have any further plans to fill gaps in the fictional world of famous books?
Not exactly “famous”, but my current writing project is a spin-off from one of my own books. In my second novel, Nice Girls Don’t, a loose end was unintentionally left dangling. It didn’t make any significant difference to the outcome, but I realised afterwards that it left open the possibility of a follow-up. This new book is part-prequel, part-sequel to Nice Girls Don’t, and focuses particularly on one of the characters who barely steps out of the shadows in the original story.
Meanwhile, I keep chipping away at my ongoing Shakespeare-themed poetry project. Don’t stay in specially waiting for that to be finished, though.
What else is new in your life since your last visit here two years ago?
Quite a lot. My fourth book was published last year. Never on Saturday is a time-slip romance novella with a hint of mystery and a touch of the paranormal. It’s set partly in medieval France and partly in present-day North Wales/Anglesey, and is based on an old French legend. Unfortunately I can’t say here which legend it is, as that would give too much away!
One of my highlights of 2018 was being invited to take part in a Heathcliff-themed event at the prestigious Bradford Literature Festival, sharing a platform with the Brontë scholar Emma Butcher and the acclaimed novelists Louise Doughty and Michael Stewart. Tremendous fun.
I’ve also become involved in an exciting new publishing venture, Ocelot Press. My debut novel The Ghostly Father (originally published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014) should be re-released through Ocelot during the next couple of months.
You’re also a poet and fiendish quiz question-setter. Are there any examples you’d like to share with the readers?
Here’s one which covers both – a poem which is also a puzzle. It shouldn’t be too difficult to solve:
My first is in sheep but not in goat;
my second’s in ship but never in boat.
My third is in pudding and also in pie;
my fourth is in earth but never in sky.
My whole is a word, oft used as a curse,
which sums up for ever my efforts at verse.
Hmm, if that’s what I think it is, I feel you’re being unduly modest!
Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?
Which book would you say has had the biggest impact on your life?
And what is the answer?
Facebook. I keep in touch with relatives overseas, I’ve reconnected with old friends, I’ve made dozens of new ones, and I even found my publisher on there. Not to mention connecting with my readers. It’s now very hard to imagine life without it.
Many thanks for those answers, Sue – full of interest, as ever. Best wishes for the success of Heathcliff!
Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.
Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. Since then she has produced four more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015), Never on Saturday (2017) and Heathcliff (a Wuthering Heights spin-off story about Heathcliff’s missing years, published on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë).