WELCOME MARGARET BARNES
Margaret Barnes is a retired barrister who splits her time between Notting Hill in London and Exton in Devon. During her career Barnes represented many defendants in high-profile cases including the death of fashion designer Ossie Clark, who was murdered by his lover Diego Cogolato in a drug induced psychotic state of paranoia. Barnes also represented Janet Griffiths who abducted a baby from St Thomas’s hospital. Retirement moved Barnes to study for an MA in Creative Writing course at Exeter University, where she was encouraged to write crime novels. Barnes is also a member of a local writing group which has published a book of short stories called Rammblings, inspired by items in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. She also organises a regular literary supper book club which invites a writer to speak about their work; past guests have included Philip Hensher and Frances Fyfield.
Connect with Ms. Barnes at these sites:
Q&A with Margaret Barnes
Do you draw from personal experience and /or current events?
Personal experience plays a big part in my writing. Writers are often told to write what they know about and as I was a criminal defence barrister for many years, I was almost compelled to write about the English Criminal Justice system. On the other hand there is so much on television and in the newspapers about issues involving the criminal law, that I also can incorporate current events into my writing. Crucial Evidence concerns the question of mistaken identity and the second Cassie Hardman novel will look at the issue of self defence when a shop owner kills a thief. That’s very topical.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story leads you?
I start with the plot which follows the course of a trial, so that comes first. Then I weave the secondary story line around the first. Having said that, sometimes the characters’ reactions to the trial surprise me, and the story goes off at a tangent.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
When I was working I was usually in court during the day and did paperwork in the evening and I’ve retained that work pattern. However as I never had fixed routine, I can work virtually anytime and anywhere.
Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I’m retired now and so finally I have the opportunity to write, something I had very little time for when I was working as a barrister.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
It tends to change and I love whoever I’m reading at the moment, but more of that later. I was impressed by and wanted to write a novel like those of Scott Turrow or an early John Grisham and of the UK writers who write about the English Legal system I like Frances Fyfield, who was a solicitor.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading a novel by the journalist and biographer Andrew Wilson called ‘The Lying Tongue.’ It’s a gripping mystery story with an unreliable narrator who wants to write a novel. He gets a job in Venice as a PA to an elderly writer who having written a hugely successful first novel never writes again. The narrator decided he will write a biography of his employer and his research takes him into a very dark place. I will say no more as I don’t want to deny others the pleasure of reading and following this macabre narrator.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Crucial Evidence is the first of three novels charting the career of barrister Cassie Hardman from successful junior into silk. A little like the Martha Costello character in the TV programme Silk. In the second novel she is being stalked by a stranger while she fights to establish the innocence of a shop keeper charged with the murder of a young man who stole from the shop.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
That’s really difficult. I think Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith in Downton Abbey would be a good Cassie. She would have to be able to do a soft Lancashire accent. Detective Constable Alex Seymour is a glamorous woman in her mid thirties and perhaps Maxine Peake could play the cop instead of the lawyer.
Manuscript?Note: hand written or keyboard?
Notes by hand and manuscript on the computer. I always wrote jury speeches out in full and by hand, even though other documents I prepared on the computer. I think it was because the address to the jury was to be spoken and everything else was to be read. Writers are advised to always read their work out to check for grammatical mistakes, but there is something about the slowness of reading aloud that enables one to think about the effect of the words, and I think writing by hand does the same thing.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby
I love the theatre and when we are in London we try to get to at least one production. In the country I enjoy walking and as we have a Springer Spaniel so we take him out every day –it’s good exercise for me as well.
Virtually anything that’s cook by somebody else.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Retired successful barrister offers chilling but revealing insight into the English Criminal Justice System in fast-paced courtroom drama. ” Lenny Barker is standing trial for the murder of a call girl. Unfortunately, his own barrister, Cassie Hardman, believes he is guilty. That is until the weekend before the trial, when Cassie discovers there may be a witness who can provide a compelling alibi for Barker, testifying that he was, in fact, somewhere else at the time of the murder. Ambitious but cautious, Cassie is reluctant to do anything that might jeopardise the case or, more importantly, her career; no barrister in their right mind would go chasing after a key witness. Cassie’s overriding sense of justice stands firm, and she begins an almost forensic search for the missing witness, a man known only as ‘Hinds’. Cassie’s search for Hinds leads her to a seedy night club where she is unceremoniously arrested during a police drugs raid. Facing the prospect of major professional embarrassment, Cassie calls in a favour from DC Alex Seymour, a recent social acquaintance from a friend’s dinner party. Cassie learns that DC Seymour is also on the hunt for Hinds, and the two women form an unconventional alliance to track him down. But things don’t run smoothly and the trial hangs on a knife’s edge. With both women putting their lives, and their careers, at risk, will they get their hands onto the crucial evidence that is needed to give Lenny Barker the fair trial he deserves?
Publisher: New Generation Publishing
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
Number of Pages: 352 pages
THANKS TO KATY AT AUTHORIGHT,
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