It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Barbara Copperthwaite, author of Her Last Secret, back to Linda’s Book Bag. Although I’ve met Barbara several times, you may not have had that pleasure so you might like to read an interview I conducted with her when I was just setting out as a blogger and Barbara’s writing was really taking off. I also have my review of Barbara’s The Darkest Lies here.
Today I’m thrilled that Barbara has agreed to write a very special letter to her five years ago self because I think her words will give hope to all those aspiring writers out there.
Her Last Secret was published by Bookouture on 13th October 2017 and is available for purchase here.
Her Last Secret
There are some secrets you can never tell.
The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.
They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.
But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.
But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.
Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?
This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.
A Letter To My Five-Years-Ago Self
Dear Barbara (aka ‘Me’),
So, here I am in 2017, about to publish my fourth book, Her Last Secret. What are you up to? Oh, I remember: you’re in 2012, working as a Special Projects Editor for a magazine company. You’ve got an idea for a book you’ve been working on for a few months now, snatching time on the train commute into London, and although it’s growing slowly you’re starting to feel quite fond of it. You’re even starting to wonder if it has potential to be more than a hobby, and you’ve tentatively mentioned the plot to a couple of mates who haven’t fallen on the floor laughing at the idea. Which is a good start.
The job is taking up a lot of time, though. It’s all-consuming, which is why you’re on pretty decent money. The long hours leave you exhausted; being up at 5.30am to catch the train from Colchester to London, and not getting home until 7pm, means that after you’ve eaten you’re ready for bed. You’re loving the creativity of the job, but are already aware you’re simply not getting the buzz from your work that you used to.
I’ve got bad news for you, Barbara. It’s going to get worse. You’ll work through most evenings and weekends, and you’ll become more tired, and more miserable, and live more for those snatched minutes on the train when you lose yourself in writing. The need to write will burn brightly in you, reminding you of what you used to love about your job so much. You’ll wonder why rising through the ranks means having to leave behind the very reason you became a journalist in the first place.
Sounds awful, doesn’t it?
Actually, it’s brilliant. It makes you reassess your whole life, and you realise you want to take a leap of faith and go back to writing for a living again. Bye bye, career ladder. I’m not going to deny it’s a terrifying thought, and you’ll have loads of doubts. How will you manage? Is it a midlife crisis? Are you going to lose everything you’ve worked so hard for? Don’t listen to them, listen to the conviction that it’s time to shake up your life. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about because I’m now writing my fifth book.
There’s going to be a hell of a steep learning curve ahead of you, though. But it will be FUN!
When you finish your book, Invisible, it will be rejected by innumerable agents – but they’ll all have such INCREDIBLE things to say about it that, instead of feeling down, you’ll feel invigorated. The story has great potential, the experts all agree, so why not publish it yourself?
Of course, that’s when the real fun begins because you know nothing about the book publishing world, publicity, cover design (luckily, you live with a talented artist who has that covered)… You’ll rediscover the joy of learning new skills, though. Right now, you think social media is full of saddos posting about what they had for breakfast. Yeah, about that – you couldn’t be more wrong. Facebook and Twitter will be two of the most useful tools you’ll learn to use. Thanks to them, Invisible, becomes a bestseller on Amazon. You’ll learn to blog, too, and even create your own website. Even better, you’ll make incredible connections with readers, book bloggers, agents, publishers. Not bad for a someone who barely knew what a tweet was in 2012.
Thanks to social media, you’ll find the confidence to write your second book, Flowers For The Dead. You’ll be terrified again, scared that you can’t repeat the success of your first book. Sadly, that fear never gets any better – and I speak as someone who has been a USA Today bestseller, and Amazon bestseller in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia. Even landing a deal with your dream publisher, Bookouture, on the strength of your third novel, The Darkest Lies, won’t rid you of your fears. But by the time the fourth book, Her Last Secret, is about to publish, you’ve learned to accept insecurity as a part of the creative process. The biggest change probably sounds the smallest, though: when people ask you what you do for a living, in five years’ time you’ll no longer consider yourself a journalist; instead your answer will be ‘author’. Eek!
See, there are so many exciting things ahead of you over the next five years. And look at you, hunched over your desk, in your London office, beavering away and wondering what on earth you can do to get the buzz back in your career. You’ve no idea of how much your life is going to change. My advice? Have the courage of your convictions, and break free from the office. Have confidence in your ideas, no matter how crazy. But most of all, have fun – enjoy every single second of the years ahead of you, because they’re brilliant.
Lots of love,
About Barbara Copperthwaite
Barbara Copperthwaite is the international best-selling author of psychological crime thrillers Invisible, Flowers for the Dead, and The Darkest Lies.
She credits much of her success to her twenty-plus years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist. She’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. Thanks to people sharing their stories with her, she knows the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are gritty, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions. It’s what has made her a USA Today bestseller.
When not writing feverishly, or throwing tennis balls for her dog, Scamp, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.
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