I'm chatting with a fabulous author who, amongst many other things, writes gripping crime thrillers!
Check it out...
C.S. Barnes (or, just Charley) is a Worcestershire-based writer and poet. She is also a lecturer, content writer, tea-drinker and book-reader with a passion for psychological thrillers that shines through her own work.
Barnes is also the current Director of Sabotage Reviews; the Personal Essays and Creative Non-Fiction Editor at Mookychick; and the editor of the Dear Reader poetry journal. The older sibling of Dear Reader, Dear Listener, is Barnes’ open mic and spoken word event that she founded and still runs in Worcester City Centre.
She has published work in a wide range of genres, including: poetry (A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache, V. Press; Body Talk, Picaroon Poetry); short fiction (The Women You Were Warned About, Black Pear Press; Go on a Road Trip, Wild Pressed Books); flash fiction (Death Is A Terrible House Guest, and Burn The Witch, The Black Light Engine Room Press); and crime fiction (Intention, Copycat, and Play, Bloodhound Books).
When DI Melanie Watton and her team are called in to investigate a video recording that surfaces in a local school, they realise that they have a complex case on their hands.
When the recording is studied by the Medical Examiner, it becomes apparent the team are now faced with a gruesome recording of a murder. Over the course of several minutes, the killer administers drugs before suffocating a man on camera. With no known crime scene, the team have nothing more than the video evidence in front of them and face a challenge to identify both the victim and the killer.
But when a suspect is discovered Melanie and her team are up against a killer who is more evil than anyone could have imagined…
Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Charley Barnes but I mostly write as C.S. Barnes, which is the moniker I use for my crime and thriller fiction. I’m currently working on my third police procedural novel, as part of a trilogy, but I’m looking to branch out into something a little different for the novel after this.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
My mother would probably tell you I was five or six when this all started! The more accurate answer is that, like most angry teenagers, I wrote an awful lot of poetry at one point (I still do, although I’m less angry with it now). When I was twenty, I entered a poem into a competition, it was the first time I’d done anything like it and I really didn’t expect anything to come of it, but something did! I received confirmation that my poem would be featured as part of an anthology, and I never looked back from there.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
Amazing, truly amazing. I spent my early twenties studying writing at university in one form of another which gave me huge amounts of material to work with. It was my PhD studies that led to me writing my first novel, Intention, that was picked up by Bloodhound Books (a great publisher that represents some fantastic authors). After Intention I wanted to try something different again, which is what led to Copycat, and eventually to Play. Honestly, throughout the whole journey I’ve just felt exceptionally lucky to be able to do something I love, and feel a little more professional with it than I did when I was an angry teen!
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
When I was sending Intention out to agents and publishers, I made careful decisions about where the book was going. I deliberately sent it to people who had either represented or published similar work to my own before. The rejections started rolling in – as they do when you work in the arts – but to get rejections from people who I knew should, in theory, like the book, was a difficult thing for me to get my head around to begin with. I now realise that placing a book with a publisher is a lot more complicated than them simply liking the work.
The most enjoyable experience, though, was finding a publisher who really did like the work. I remember getting an email of interest from Bloodhound Books, which was exciting, but it was also the third email of this kind I’d received by that point so I tried to stay as level as I could. They had the whole manuscript – also exciting – and they turned around an offer in twenty-four hours. A day after sending the whole thing they replied to say they wanted it, and I’ll never get over that moment.
Would you go back and change anything?
There must be something that I’d change, but I really can’t think of anything. I know I’m repeating myself a little, but I do feel very lucky that things happened how they did. I might send Intention to Bloodhound Books earlier (but, then I’d run the risk of it not being the right time for them to accept it). I might come back and ask to change this answer in five years’ time, but, now, I feel as though things worked out well for me.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10?
Still writing, somewhere! I currently lecture in Creative Writing at university level and I sincerely enjoy that work. That said, it can make for a difficult work-writing-life balance sometimes. If, in five years, or ten years, I could have that worked out in a way that allows me to teach throughout the year and write when I’m not teaching (a sea view wouldn’t be too bad, if I could keep one of those in the mix of this), then I’d feel quite comfortable with that.
In terms of writing on a more detailed note, I think the crime genre is where I’m comfortable now. There are so many parts to crime, though, that I’d like to think I’ll have the courage to try a few different sub-genres along the way, too.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Be cheeky. I’ve said this to my students so many times. There are several chances that I feel I maybe wouldn’t have got – not just in getting to Bloodhound Books, but with other writing achievements, too – if I hadn’t been cheeky and just asked for something. The worst you’ll get is a rejection (and, in the writing life, you’ll get plenty of those at one time or another anyway).
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? Mayo
Night or Day? Day
Inside or Outside? Outside
Dogs or Cats? Dogs
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter
Ebook or Paperback? Paperback
Sun or Rain? Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Pencil and notebook
Comedy or Drama? Comedy
Chips or Chocolate? Chips
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!