C. S. Barnes and Her Writing
C.S. Barnes, known as Charley to her friends, is an author of all kinds: crime, domestic noir, police procedural, poetry, and flash fiction. Phew!
Three of her crime novels are Intention, Copycat, and Play.
Charley is a fellow Bloodhound Books author and a fabulous lady!
Let’s Place C.S.Barnes Under the Spotlight!
Tell us a little about yourself and your books, including the genre(s) you write in.
Well, on paper I’m C.S. Barnes but I’m Charley to most.
I live in Worcestershire where I lecture in Creative Writing and English Literature (and sometimes Linguistics, to keep things varied).
My fiction work is exclusively crime, for the moment at least. I started out on domestic noir but I’ve moved into police procedural writing for the time being (although I do miss the strange intimacy of a first person narrator).
I also write poetry, which is published under Charley Barnes, and I’ve been fortunate enough to release two flash fiction chapbooks as well, both of which have a horror/folklore feel to them.
What project are you working on now?
At the minute I’m working on the next DI Melanie Watton novel. My last two novels, Copycat and Play, introduced a team of detectives that was headed up by the straight-talking Melanie Watton, and I’m currently working on their third case together.
It’s slow-paced writing at the moment but I do enjoy coming back to these characters; they’re a good bunch, even if I say so myself!
How do you choose the genre(s) you write in?
I’ve always explained to people that crime is the genre I love to write and to read, but poetry feeds a different part of my brain.
The things I write about in poetry – body image; relationships; even folklore, fact and myth – are all things I couldn’t necessarily discuss for a whole novel. Or rather, I wouldn’t feel able discussing those things for a whole novel.
During my Undergraduate degree I became fascinated with crime fiction though, and how women in particular are portrayed in the genre, so that’s really where it all started.
Is there any particular author or book that’s influenced you, either growing up or as an adult?
Cover Her Face by P.D. James was everything to me at one point in my reading life! I read the book while I was studying. It was one of the first things I read that was written by a woman and featured some unpleasant women too. I think my desire to see more “bad” women in crime fiction is really what made me latch on to that book.
P.D. James aside, I have some strong and happy memories of certain Nancy Drew books from yesteryear.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences?
I can honestly say it isn’t. I do research, of course, and funny things happen in the real-world on a day-to-day basis that would make for good fiction. I try hard to keep a clear distinction between things though.
Copycat deals with a copycat killer that I suppose some might say resembles real life experiences or incidents, but it’s purely coincidental if that is the case.
How do you come up with your titles?
I have a really good publisher who helps me!
Intention originally had a long and convoluted title that was nowhere near catchy enough for a bookshelf or an e-reader.
My publisher suggested Intention because the word is quite significant in the story (which is about a young psychopath who intends to kill for the first time before the book is over).
After Intention I decided I really liked one-word titles for my novels though, which is where Copycat came from.
Play was another example of help from my publisher; again, they tried to condense down the story to a single word that was somehow important to the plot (Play is about a snuff film that’s repeatedly played throughout, so that certainly did the trick).
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can write a half-decent playscript if I’m pushed for one, and I’m okay at drawing (as long as you don’t need anything with a face)!
In truth, writing was my secret talent for a quite a while – but it hardly seems like a secret anymore.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which four authors would you invite (alive or dead)?
Easy: Oscar Wilde, P.D. James, Raymond Chandler, and Nick Hornby.
I’d bring out the booze and hope for the best.
What words describe your writing process?
Compulsive; impassioned; erratic.
Which would you rather do: Never write another story or never read another book?
Oh, my goodness, what an impossible question!
I think, if there’s a gun to my head, I’d never write another story.
I love writing but I’m also terribly insecure about it, so I’d somehow manage to convince myself that this was the better option, I’m sure.
What is the funniest typo or error you’ve ever written?
When I was editing Copycat I was changing a character’s name from Peter to Stephen (I can’t recall why, now).
I did a find and replace for one name to another, only to later discover that every time I’d written ‘so and so petered out…’ to describe someone’s speech, it now read ‘so and so Stephened out…’. I was half-tempted to leave one, in the hope that it wasn’t picked up by my editor, but I resisted the temptation in the end!
How do you come up with names for your characters?
If they’re major characters, they have to have the name of someone I don’t know in real life. Now I see that written in front of me, it seems a silly way of choosing names!
Whenever I’ve used the name of someone I know, I find that I copy their qualities and character, and I really want to avoid doing that (especially to people who I care about). So, they’re deliberately picked based on names I haven’t met before.
Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
Another easy one: Mother dearest.
I’ve been a bookworm for most of my life, so I think my mum always knew writing was on the horizon somewhere.
She might not read everything I write, but she listens when characters aren’t playing ball, and when cover designs aren’t quite right, and when one book idea just won’t come together. She’s always be there for all things writing-related, and I’ll always be exceptionally grateful to her for that.
What is your most favourite word and why?
Periphrasis, because I think it’s a wonderfully extravagant word for what it means (which is an unnecessary use of words, especially to separate out grammatical structures, in a sentence).
What is your least favourite word and why?
Can I have two? That and just, because I’m always having to go back and edit them out of my work (and I usually lose around 20,000 words in doing so…)!
You can find C.S.Barnes in the following places:
Facebook: Charley Barnes Facebook Page
Twitter: Charley Barnes Twitter
Instagram: Charley Barnes Twitter