Today I’m delighted to revisit my interview with Barbara Coppertwaite which was first posted in July 2018. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Barbara’s latest publications.
Barbara is an international bestselling author, whose books have topped Amazon and Kobo, and also appeared on the USA Today chart. She is currently working on her seventh contemporary psychological thriller as well as a new, gothic historical fiction series.
Her writing career started in journalism. For over twenty years Barbara worked for national magazines and newspapers, talking to the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Her fiction reflects this: she creates realistic, complex characters and explores the emotional impact of difficult situations, from a family torn apart by the secrets they keep from one another, to a woman who can’t get past the disappearance of her twin twenty-five years earlier.
When not writing feverishly at her home in Birmingham, Barbara is often found walking her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy, or hiding behind a camera to take wildlife photographs.
Over to Barbara:
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Gwen Stephani – What You Waiting For? – The lyrics are all about that confusion of wanting something but fearing failure, and it’s something that really resonates with me (and probably with most authors). The song actually came out back when I was a journalist, and listening to it made me decide to take a huge chance on a change of job. Ever since then, whenever I’ve wanted to take a leap of faith but felt fearful, I’ve ended up with that song in my head, reminding me that worries are natural but I shouldn’t let them control me.
Five years ago, this song was in my head, when I quit my job in order to become full-time author – a decision I can honestly say I have never regretted.
I’m also quite an impatient person, so the lines about ‘what you waiting for’ suit my personality, as I hate waiting!
Vaughn Williams – The Lark Ascending – This classical music epitomises hot summer days in English countryside. One of my favourite things to do to relax is to go for a walk and lose myself in nature. Every time I hear The Lark Ascending it evokes wonderful memories of walking through long grass, the sun on my skin, and larks climbing into the blue sky above me as they sing. It brings tears to my eyes every time it is played, and I have to stop what I’m doing so I can soak up every note.
Make Someone Happy – Jimmy Durante – I’ve always loved this song. Its message is so simple but so right: ‘Make someone happy, make just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too.’
When I wrote Flowers For The Dead, a psychological crime thriller, the tune took on more meaning, though, as it seemed to sum up a main thread of the story. The main character, Adam, truly does just want to make somebody happy and be happy, too – yet he is so messed up but he can never achieve that, and instead kills those that he loves.
Abba – Move On – One of my earliest memories is of singing along to this. Even then, the words seemed to speak to me, to paint a picture. My mum adored Abba and had all their albums, so I know them all by heart still, but this is one that always struck me as particularly beautiful.
Don’t Stop Moving – Livin’ Joy – A real 90s dance anthem that’s 100 per cent guaranteed to get me moving and feeling happy. Such positive lyrics! ‘You can do anything that you want to do, put your mind, body and soul to it; prove it to yourself and say “I want”, “I will”, “I can do anything”.’
If you’re feeling down, put it on, dance around, sing along at the top of your voice, and by the end of it all negativity will be banished, and you’ll be raring to beat any challenge. That’s how I feel anyway!
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My dogs. Buddy and Scamp make me laugh, even when I’m feeling down. I’ve had Scamp, my cockapoo, from a pup, while Buddy is a rescue dog of indiscriminate breed and age. Together, they complete my family. People could learn a lot from dogs about the joy in simple pleasures; living in the moment rather than worrying about the future or the past; and the giving and receiving of pure, uncomplicated, unconditional love. My dogs give me so much more than I could ever give them, and every single day I am grateful for having them in my life – even if they do demand I throw tennis balls for them when I’m supposed to be writing.
My teapot. I’m a fruit tea addict, and my pot is pretty much permanently by my side. Having a pot rather than a mug makes me feel terribly old-fashioned and civilised. There is something so calming about the act of stopping what I’m doing, pouring a cup, then taking a sip, before plunging on with my writing.
Walks in nature. I get most of my ideas while waking. They pop into my head from nowhere. Even in deepest, darkest mid-winter, I have to get out for a walk or I’ll go stir crazy. Even when I worked in an office full-time, at lunch I had to walk. It’s as though my brain is powered by my moving feet.
Music. I love all forms of music, and always have something on whether I’m cooking, doing, housework, reading, or writing. Each book seems to have a different musical theme as I type: I mainly listened to birdsong and soundtracks of nature for The Darkest Lies; dance music for Her Last Secret; and classical for The Perfect Friend. It’s strange how the two creative forms seem to link up in my head, and I would truly struggle without music.
Books. Come on, I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I could live without books!
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
Don’t listen to the advice and opinions of others so much that they drown out your own views.
Don’t look back – and don’t over-reach for the future.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t spend all your savings on that cute red Mini Metro – it’s falling apart and its brakes don’t work. Wait a while and a better first car will come along…one that actually stops.
Believe – because everything does work out in the end.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I’ve held a fair few random jobs. As well as being a journalist, I’ve also worked as a waitress, glass collector, cabin crew, and in a men’s prison.
I love sewing, though don’t get to do it very often. My mum made all of our clothes when I was growing up, so it’s second nature to me to make things. It’s incredibly relaxing.
Nature is a real passion of mine. I used to have a nature blog, with my photographs and features about wildlife on, but I’ve had to let it slide for the last few years as I’m so busy with my psychological thrillers. One day it will be resurrected, though. Information from the blog was used by The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and The Black Country, in order to catalogue nature at my local park and create a plan to safeguard the park’s future. I’m very proud of that.
Painting and drawing is a hobby of mine. Many of the nature photographs I take are then turned into sketches.
I can wiggle my little toes independently of all my other toes.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
Funnily enough, I pondered this while writing The Perfect Friend, as one of the characters, Alex, is trying to make Carrie’s bucket list dreams come true – and that’s what triggers mysterious, threatening messages being delivered to the dying woman. Hopefully, that isn’t what will happen to me once I reveal my list.
My bucket list is all about animals.
Firstly, I’d love to see mountain gorillas. As a child of eight, while most people had posters of pop stars on their bedroom walls, I had a photograph of Dian Fossey in Rwanda with the mountain gorillas. She was a heroine of mine, and I wanted desperately to be like her. It would be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to see them.
Second on my list is another childhood dream: to visit the Galapagos Islands. The species there are unique, and helped Darwin confirm his theories on evolution – just thinking about seeing it gets my heart pumping.
Blue whales breaching the sea, flipping onto their backs, then flopping down with an almighty splash has to be one of the most amazing sights in the world. They are the largest creatures known to have lived on earth. What a huge honour it would be to see them – and that’s why they are third on my bucket list.
Fourth is to travel to Borneo to see orangutan, and all the other incredible flora and fauna.
Finally, I need to travel to Africa for a safari, ideally the Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania. It’s world renowned for being the most incredible sanctuary for wildlife, enjoying the highest density of mammals in Africa across its crater floor. I’d spent a wonderful time there, seeing buffalo, wildebeest, rhinos, gazelles, elephants, lions, giraffes… I wish I could be there right now, but for now it’s enough to know that one day I will visit.
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The Girl in the Missing Poster
24 June, 1994 – Nineteen-year-old Leila Hawkins runs from her father’s birthday party into the stormy night wearing her sister Stella’s long red coat. Some say she was crying, others swear they saw her get into a passing car. Nobody ever saw her again.
Present – This time every year, on the anniversary of that fateful night, Stella decorates the small seaside town she grew up in with pictures of her beautiful missing sister. But after twenty-five years, is it even worth hoping someone will come forward? Perhaps the upcoming documentary will spark people’s memories by reuniting all the guests who were there the night Leila went missing.
As old friends gather and long-buried secrets begin to surface, the last thing Stella ever expects is a direct response from someone claiming they took Leila. They want private details of Stella’s life in return for answers. But as the true events of the night of the party play out once again, who is lying? And who is next?
Flowers for the Dead
He sees her. The one. The sunglasses don’t fool anyone, she is clearly upset, her nose and lips swollen from crying. They are two lost souls and he knows his love can help her. After all, she is not the first girl he has followed home…
Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He pays attention, he buys flowers. He knows everything about Laura and looks after her every need. He cooks, he cleans – he even does the dishes without being asked.
But Laura has never met Adam. Still grieving after a devastating car crash that killed her family, she’s forgetful and struggling to pull her life together. She’d be horrified to know the depth of this unsettling fantasy in which she is the star. But there’s no denying the chill she feels every time she finds another elaborate bouquet on her doorstep, or wakes in the night sensing she is not alone.
Adam has been watching her every move, and now it’s time to act. Except, there’s one little detail he’s missed: Laura has been watching him too.
After everything she’s been through, Laura’s ready to fight back and stop being the victim in her own life story. But in Adam’s world, there are no happy endings…
The Perfect Friend
She’ll do anything for you…
My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Her Last Secret
Some secrets you can never tell.
Everyone thinks the Thomases are the perfect family: beautiful house, gorgeous kids.
They don’t know wife Dominique is a paranoid wreck.
They don’t know husband Ben is trapped in a web of deceit.
They don’t know daughter Ruby lives in fear of the next abusive text.
But someone knows all their secrets.
Can the lies that bind them tear them apart?
The Darkest Lies
A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.
Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.
Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?
As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…
THERE’S ONE VICTIM OF CRIME NO ONE NOTICES…
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…