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Copycat: Second book fears, panic-writing, and plans for a sequel

When people ask me how I wrote Copycat, I have to explain to them the constant state of panic that I was in while I pulled this book together. Intention, my debut novel which was also published by Bloodhound Books, was a labour of love that lasted three years in total, and five years to the point that it was published. I wrote that book as part of my PhD programme, which also means that throughout those three years I had a great support network in place to get me through the process of writing a book. The reason behind the Copycat-panic then was that this would be the first novel I would write without someone holding me up, and those first steps to get the book together were nervous and wobbly ones to say the least. Copycat’s first draft came together in about two months. At the beginning and end of most days, I would sit down at my laptop and I would push and push until I managed a few hundred words at a time. I firmly believe that, whether you write a book fast or slow, whether you l…
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Love and the psychopath: the Daniel and Gillian story (Intention, Bloodhound Books)

Book blurb:
When twenty-two-year-old Gillian Thompson returns from university for the summer, it is apparent there is tension at home. An irritant to her father and a concern to her mother, Gillian’s home life is less than ideal.
Geraldine, Gillian’s mother, has suffered abuse from Joe for years. However, it is not until Joe dies that the family dynamic shifts and Gillian starts out on her own dark journey…
When Gillian meets Paul and Daniel she starts to become the person she always knew she was. And as people around her start dying Gillian faces scrutiny from her mother. 
But are the deaths accidents or is something more sinister at work?
C.S. Barnes' Intention is set to be one of 2019's stand-out debuts. A dark and compelling psychological thriller, it will appeal to fans of authors like; Lisa Jewell, S.E. Lynes, Theresa Driscoll.
Love and the psychopath: the Daniel and Gillian story
Gillian was always a difficult protagonist to love, but in a strange sort of way I did love h…

Poem: Anniversary offerings

It's been a little while since I shared something here, and it's been even longer still since I shared some poetry. However, it's a particularly important day for me and my family, and it's also the time of year where in among tinsel and sparkle, we can't help but think of the people who should be here but aren't. So, to that end, here's a little poem from me:
Anniversary offerings
We bring you flowers, talk about plans for Christmas and New Year, still bitter that you can’t be a part of them.
We bring tools from the shed – they were in the garage but mum’s gone on one of her sprees; you know how she gets.
We bring a Santa Claus figure; the Church says we can’t put things on the grave but we don’t mind being condemned.
We bring soft sentiments, take turns telling you that you are missed, loved, still important. It’s our family’s saddest duet.
We bring stories that we’ve lived and ones we imagine you would have lived, if the world were a little less cruel.
We bring tear…

On parking in disabled bays: An open letter to the man who shouted, ‘It’s probably not even her badge.’

An open letter to the man who shouted, ‘It’s probably not even her badge,’ across a road earlier today –
Firstly:
It is, and if you’d had the nerve to shout such snide comments before I’d hauled myself into my car and belted myself in, then I would have shown you the picture of my face on my blue badge, not that it’s any of your business.
Secondly:
Thank you for validating many of the rants, raves, and other expressions of disappointment that I often voice about people and their general ignorance towards individuals with invisible illnesses. While I can’t help but think even now, hours later, that your actions were those of a total pillock, I have to say that in many ways it’s nice that my cynicism has been proved right – again. So, there’s that silver lining to take away from this afternoon, if nothing else.
The full story:
After starting work at home at around 6:45am, I decided that I could afford a lunchtime stroll into town. By this point in the day my forearms were hypersensitive (o…

I should(n't) be writing, right?

It’s been a little while since I wrote one of these things so let me catch you up:

I’ve finished my PhDI’ve finished lecturing for this academic yearI’m publishing my first poetry pamphlet in July (you can pre-order it here if you feel in the mood to treat yourself)I’ve placed my debut novel with a publisher (Bloodhound Books, who are kind and sympathetic people to work with), andI’ve started writing another novel
They’re the major blanks filled in – unless I’ve forgotten something, but we can always come back for a quick edit later. I’ve been exceptionally lucky so far this year; that’s my only real explanation for all of the above. After worrying ‘how I would top 2017’ – after submitting my thesis and publishing The Women You Were Warned About – 2018 has, in fact, been quite the beaut of a year so far.
But, I digress! My main reason for coming back to this blog is that I have a new/different/changing relationship with writing at the moment, and I feel like I need to get that …

'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' and Entirely Necessary

During the penultimate weekend of March, I found myself in a well-known bookshop with my other half. I picked up a copy of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and gave a sigh so deep and heartfelt that my partner snatched the book from my hands and headed straight towards the till. The deep and heartfelt sigh was entirely unjustified at the time, though, because I knew absolutely nothing about Eleanor Oliphant. I knew that the novel was critically acclaimed, I also knew that many book bloggers and Instagrammers who I follow had read and loved the book – but I knew nothing about it, its protagonist, or indeed this protagonist’s story.
Nevertheless, I was bought the book and I set about reading it a day or two later. This is the part where the spoilers are likely to sneak in so advert your eyes – and skip a paragraph ahead – if you’re looking to avoid surprises about the plot. Eleanor is a young woman – thirty years old, if memory serves right, and she lives in social hou…

The Diary of a (former) PhD Student: One last panic...

It’s been so long since I last updated this space that it took three attempts to get my password right just to log in here. Off the top of my head I couldn’t actually remember when I’d last rambled on about my PhD but, if Blogger records are anything to go by, it looks like it was back in September 2017 – which must mean that it was immediately before or immediately after handing in the dreaded thesis.
If you’re reading this and we’re friends on Facebook, or you follow me on one social media channel or another, then you’ll already know the outcome. If by some minor chance you have stumbled across this blog without knowing me – or you’ve started to follow this blog, without really knowing who I am – then: SURPRISE! I PASSED MY PHD!
But there were one or two steps between then and now so kick back and let me fill you in (or, alternatively, you could click the top right X and call it a day; I have, after all, given you the ending to this story already).
I handed in my thesis in late Septem…