Today I am over the moon to welcome Barbara Copperthwaite! 🙂

Barbara is a crime novelist. Author of INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. She is a lovely lady and is very supportive of other authors and book bloggers.

Now, I have to confess that Barbara’s books have been waiting patiently on my kindle for far too long already. I have seen many glowing reviews for these books which makes me all the more ashamed to admit that I haven’t had the chance to read them, yet. I will be rectifying this as soon as I can, I promise!

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

Hello! My name is Barbara Copperthwaite, and people have always said that with a name like that I ought to write books. That wasn’t the only reason I decided to start writing, though. I’ve been a journalist for over twenty years, writing features, and working my way up to become a magazine editor. I’ve always loved the buzz of it. But I needed a new challenge and had an idea that refused to be ignored any longer…

That idea turned into my first novel, Invisible. The psychological thriller is told in the form of a diary; the diary of a woman in an unhappy marriage, whose mundane life explodes one night and she becomes the most hated woman in the country.

Flowers For The Dead is my second novel. It is told across two timelines. In the present, Adam, a serial killer, is stalking his latest prey, Laura. In the past we discover Adam’s back story. I loved exploring how he was warped from an innocent child, who loved fairy tales, into a monster.

Both novels have been Amazon bestsellers. In December I signed a four-book deal with Bookouture and am really excited about the future.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Anywhere, really. Invisible came as a result of a short stint working in Glasgow’s high security men’s prison when I was in my early twenties. Many of the men in there seemed perfectly normal and chatty; it fascinated me that they could hide their dark side so well. From that moment, I always wondered how well people can ever know each other. That thought drove a lot of my journalism, too.

Flowers For The Dead came to me randomly, courtesy of a carton of milk! One day I opened my fridge to use the last of it. But it wasn’t the last, there was another full carton beside it that I must have bought and forgotten about. 

“It must have been me, there’s no one else who could have done it,” I shrugged to myself. Then I laughed: “Unless there’s a crazed stalker breaking in just to leave me milk.”

From that moment came the inspiration for Adam, a stalker who wants to do kind, thoughtful things for the woman he loves. Right up until the moment he kills her. I kept thinking about how creepy it would be to have someone doing things around your home, and how easy it would be at first to write them off as absent-mindedness. No one would realise what Adam was doing until it was too late…

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

As a general rule my characters are a thing apart from the real world. I write mini-biographies about them, which includes not just their age, height, weight, eye colour, mannerisms, etc, but also background information which explains why they are the way they are now. Although much of it may not make it into the book, it helps to create a rounded, realistic character whose thoughts and feelings make sense.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

Names are important, as they provide a subtle indicator of social status, age, even location. More than anything, though, I try to choose names that fit the character’s personality. Laura Weir, in Flowers For The Dead, has a tumultuous background, hence the surname of ‘weir’. I chose Adam for the serial killer because he is so alone, and unique, and the biblical connotations appealed to me. His surname is Bourne to reflect the fact that, although he is a murderer, in some ways he is almost an innocent. It’s fair to say he’s a complex character!

The first names simply have to ‘feel’ right to me, and it’s something I can’t really explain. I annoy myself no end by spending ages going through names and rejecting them for no real reason. When I finally settle on one that is right, though, everything feels better.

But in Invisible, the main character is never named. She is almost literally invisible, with even her husband only ever referring to her as ‘babe’ or ‘gorgeous’. It seemed the perfect choice for her.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I usually start with a skeleton of an idea, with some ideas for key scenes which I write out. Then it’s just a question of head down and get on with it. I’m a big believer in research, though, thanks to my journalistic background, and that can often spark more scenes and plot-drivers, too.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Gosh, that depends on my mood! Today, I’ll say Peter Swanson (twisted plots and complex, unlikeable characters), John Lewis-Stempel (stunning, lyrical prose about nature – a passion of mine), Patricia Highsmith (crime queen, in my opinion), Elizabeth Haynes (psychological thrillers extraordinaire), and Terry Pratchett (brilliantly funny look at the world, from a whole new angle, transposed to a whole new planet).

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would love to meet Charles Dickens. The journalist in me would insist on us sitting down and doing a full interview – I’d love to hear about his childhood from his own lips, and how that influenced him as a person as well as his writing. I’d like to know more about his process as a writer, too, particularly as his characters were so often larger than life, and he enjoyed acting them out.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Huge! I always had my head stuck in a book. I was read to a lot, but the moment I became a reader myself was when my mum handed me The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, by Enid Blyton. It had an orange, hardback cover and some of the leaves were loose, and mum explained that I had to be very careful with it because she had read that exact copy herself when she was my age. It underlined how precious words were – and of course the story inside was fabulous.

I suppose my crime fascination began as a child, too. I was addicted to Enid Blyton’s ‘Mystery’ series, and was reading ‘The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat’ when I figured out whodunit a whole page before the big reveal. To this day, I remember the feeling of pride at that moment, as I announced to my mum my thoughts. Clearly even as a nipper I was obsessed with crime fiction!

When did you start to write?

I’ve been a journalist since I was nineteen years old, starting out on my local weekly, and moving up to write on national women’s magazines and newspapers. I even edited a couple of mags, which was wonderful. But I didn’t write fiction until I was thirty-nine, and was suddenly hit with the burning desire to create a novel, mainly because I’d had the idea for Invisible and genuinely believed it was a unique tale that needed to be told.

I bought a cheap laptop, and started tapping away during my commute and lunch breaks. Writing again was great after so long running magazines (when you’re an editor there is no time to write features yourself). But soon, stolen moments weren’t enough for me. A few months later I decided to take voluntary redundancy. It’s possible it was a mid-life crisis! A week before my 40th birthday, I became a freelance journalist – and an aspiring author. At the same time, I moved from my home in Colchester, Essex, to be with my partner, Paul, in Birmingham. From the start he was fully supportive of me chasing my dream.

My first novel, INVISIBLE, was published eight months later, in April 2014. I can honestly say I have never regretted my decision to give in to my mid-life crisis!

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

Ooh, no, I would never do that. It’s the author’s decision, so whether I wish the ending had been different or not, I couldn’t possibly rewrite it. Though I admit, I wish I could give happy endings to books such as The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas…but it then wouldn’t be the incredible, powerful book it is, would it.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Every time I read a brilliant book, I wish I had written it!

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

I’d buy Bathsheba Everdene (from Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd) a large slice of cake and a hot chocolate at my local café, and I’d tell her to stop mucking about and settle down with Gabriel Oak from the start. It would save a whole lot of heartache on everyone’s part if she did. I’ve a feeling we’d also end up having a glass of wine or two, as it might take her a while to be persuaded – she’s quite stubborn!

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m finishing off my second book for Bookouture, which will be out later this year. It’s another psychological thriller, with a very tense countdown…

Do you have a new release due?

Coming soon is my first Bookouture novel. It’s an exciting new psychological thriller out in spring, the title and exact date are going to be announced soon. I can’t wait to share it with you all!

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I love keeping in touch with readers, so am on Facebook, Twitter, and have a blog and a website!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Barbara 🙂

Invisible by [Copperthwaite, Barbara]

Publisher: Barbara Copperthwaite (31st March 2014)

Something is wrong. With her marriage, with her husband, with her. But as she pours her heart out to her diary, it’s clear she doesn’t know what.
Until one explosive night she finds a possible answer.
Suddenly hated and vilified by everyone, she clings to her relationship – even while wondering if she really knows her husband at all…
INVISIBLE is a stunningly powerful, gripping and original psychological thriller of subtle insight that takes you on a twisted journey through one woman’s marriage.
Perfect for fans of THE WIDOW and WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.

“Totally gripping and scarily believably characters. One of the most assured debuts of the year” BELLA
“Dark, gripping, twisted – we loved it!” REAL PEOPLE MAGAZINE
“This psychological thriller will stay with you for a long time after you’ve put it down” CRIME CONFIDENTIAL
“Seriously impressed. Such a powerful psychological thriller… Monumental character development” MANY BOOKS, MANY LIVES
“Totally and utterly convincing,” POSTCARD REVIEWS
“Quietly brilliant,” BY THE LETTER BOOK REVIEWS
“All-consuming. I lived and breathed this book. An absolutely gripping read, and quite unforgettable,” BEING ANNE

Buy your copy HERE

Flowers for the Dead by [Copperthwaite, Barbara]

Publisher: BLC Publications; 1 edition (21st September 2015)

Adam Bourne is a serial killer who thinks he is a saviour. When he murders young women and cuts off their lips, he believes he has done it to make them happy.
How did he become warped from the sensitive four-year-old who adored his gran and the fairy tales she read to him? What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends?
When he meets Laura Weir, Adam weaves a fairy tale romance around them. A tale she has no idea she is part of. As he hatches his twisted plan for their fairy tale ending, can anyone stop him before he creates the ultimate sacrifice to love?

“A chillingly drawn serial killer. Will have you looking over your shoulder and under your bed… Original, gripping, with a deep psychological impact,” Sunday Mirror

“Enthralling, tense and moving,” Real People magazine

Buy your copy HERE


14 thoughts on “Q&A with author, Barbara Copperthwaite @BCopperthwait

  1. Hi Kerry and Barbara,

    A great interview, very insightful and informative.

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Flowers For The Dead’, now I am looking for the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of ‘Invisible’, which apparently was just as good!

    If like so many of us bloggers, you are also holding down a regular day job and rely on a few spare moments of an evening to post and chat, life does get very fraught with deadlines and publishing dates, but this was an excellent post and as you so rightly say, there are just too many good new books out there waiting to be read 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

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