Elizabeth Chats With…Margaret Barnes

Today, I’m welcoming an old friend back to the blog. Margaret Barnes and I have been writing buddies for years. We both started writing fiction after retiring from professions where our output had been factual and technical. We both took Creative Writing MAs as mature students at Exeter University. And we are both members of Chudleigh Writers Circle. In the month when her third novel has just been published, I’m delighted she’s back to share some thoughts on her writing progress with us.

Hello Margaret and welcome. We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

It’s six years since you asked me some rather impertinent questions. I remember telling you why I was expelled from Latin classes at school and, as my ‘something not many people know about me’, standing bail for a friend who was arrested for digging up the cricket pitch at Headingly during the campaign to ‘Free George Davis.’ Quite a lot has happened during those six years.

We’ve continued to work together on our novels and thank you for your comments and suggestions over the years. It’s been fun. I hope my observations on your books have been as helpful as yours have been. You’ve completed your Jones Sisters trilogy and your Business of Writing books. I have republished Crucial Evidence and published Reluctant Consent, the second Cassie Hardman.

I took the decision to republish Crucial Evidence rather hesitantly. You may remember I had bought a package to assist me with the publication and they sourced the publishers for me. I was happy with the standard of production but not the decisions they made about pricing, which I felt was too high. I’m of the opinion that readers are prepared to purchase a ‘self-published’ work if they are not spending too much.

Also I wanted to choose my own cover designer and copy editor. I had already decided to publish Reluctant Consent using the Kindle platform and I wanted the two books to be obviously part of a series. In addition I was publishing the pieces I had written for my blog scribblingadvocate.com as a book, Trials Errors and Misdemeanours. Using the same cover designer for each book I could link them together. They all have photographs taken in the Inns of Court where my stories are set and, of course, from where I worked as a barrister.

As far as I am concerned the decisions have been a success. I have sold over 3000 books and have covered the cost of publishing. Most of the sales have been for the e-books and I have many good reviews as well as some bad ones. You can’t please everyone! I have used my Facebook page to promote them which appears to have worked and for very little cost.

In writing these books I wanted to illuminate the life of a female barrister – the ups and downs and the emotions she feels in this very male environment. Despite what many people think, most crimes don’t involve sex and violence. Instead they are about money, drug dealing, fraud and theft. Most of them will result in a prison sentence and one of the most serious is burglary, when someone’s home in invaded. I decided my third Cassie Hardman would be about an aggravated burglary; that’s when the offender enters a dwelling house with a weapon. I also wanted to tell a story that didn’t have a woman as the victim of any violence. I hope I have been able to write and entertaining story without resorting to someone being murdered. It is called Legal Privilege and was published on May 3rd.

Thank you for this walk through your writing career so far, Margaret, and good luck with the launch of the new book. As you leave Cassie behind and move on to a new writing project, I look forward to spending more time with you on this never-ending and exciting journey as writers.

By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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