Angela Barton is the author of three novels and is published by Ruby Fiction, an imprint of award-winning publisher ChocLit UK. Her debut novel, Arlette's Story, has received high acclaim and together with Magnolia House and You've Got My Number, this popular author consistently receives rave reviews.
It is our pleasure to have Angela chatting to us in The Hub as we hear about her books and also her wonderful jewellery and art creations.
Read on and be inspired...
What is it you most enjoy most about writing?
Being transported into other lives, making friends with my characters and falling in love with my heroes. I love being in control of what happens next, because it’s impossible in real life. It a great escape and meditation for me when I’m in the writing zone.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I wrote one book in four months and my current WIP is over two years and still only three-quarters finished. It depends what else is going on in my life, I suppose. I’m a devil for editing as I go along, so that slows the process too.
Your novel Arlette’s Story is superb and has received high acclaim. It depicts the Nazi massacre of 642 people at Oradour-sur-Glane in SW France. Why did you choose this subject and how did you research?
I’d previously written two contemporary novels and wasn’t even thinking about writing historical fiction. I had heard of a place called the ‘ghost village’ that had been left frozen in time after two hundred Nazis had invaded, towards the end of the war. The village is called Oradour-sur-Glane. It wasn’t just a little hamlet, it was a thriving community with schools, hotels, restaurants, doctor’s surgery, hairdressers, butcher’s, bakers and a beautiful spired church. As I walked around the deserted streets, looking inside the broken homes with rotting furniture and rusting cars still parked in garages, I felt compelled to tell the story from a fictional character’s point of view to help keep history alive for generations to come.
I researched the facts through visiting a museum dedicated to the massacre and re-visiting Oradour three more times. I watched footage of Oradour before the tragedy, read factual books, scoured the Internet and spoke to elderly French citizens living in the new Oradour, built half a mile away from the ruins. (Sadly the handful of survivors from 10th June 1944, have all passed away.)
It’s a huge responsibility to tell a historically accurate story using fictional characters. I wanted to honour those who had died but at the same time, I didn’t want to glamourise the situation like some films can do. I hope I did them justice and that my book goes some small way to helping keep the story alive.
There’s a blog post with photographs before and after the massacre, on my website blog: Angela's Blog
Would you say your second novel, Magnolia House is all about finding positives out of negatives? If so, what was the inspiration behind this.
I’m intrigued by obsessive compulsive behaviour and I like to help my characters overcome emotional difficulties. I truly believe that writing like this is a kind of self-help therapy. I can sort out my characters’ problems better than my own. Writing is also escapism for me. I can control emotions, actions, responses and romance in a way that can’t be done in real life. So yes, Magnolia House was about finding positives out of negatives and I’m also thrilled to hear that lots of readers love Mason (Ace) who was witty and laugh out loud funny. I even giggled at my own innuendos I wrote for him!
Tell us about your latest novel, You’ve Got My Number.
You’ve Got My Number was actually the first novel I wrote, although it was published as a third story. It’s set in a beautiful village that I lived in for ten years although I’ve renamed the place in my book. I’m fascinated by the way two people can interpret the same thing in different ways. It looks into the psyche of people and how they react when things don’t go their way. Some stay strong and take one day at a time, but my antagonist in YGMN tells a lie to get his own way, and that lie grows and grows and begins to affect other people’s lives.
You are a person of many talents and also make jewellery and create art from free motion sewing. Are these commercial ventures? Tell us how they came about.
That’s very kind of you to say, but I’m just an amateur at sewing and jewellery making. It’s like a meditation for me. When I’m creating I’m not worrying about anything, I’m totally focused. Hours can pass while I’m making something, which is great relaxation for me. I’m tentatively starting out with a new business idea called Needle Pulling Thread. I have a Facebook and Twitter page and a website dedicated to my creations, but it was set up just before the Covid19 hit the world, so it’s on hold at the moment.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
I would say keep reading – a lot. I recommend joining a writing group where you can make friends with like-minded people and attend workshops, because we never stop learning. Importantly, have your work looked over by a critiquing service, writer friend or if you’re very lucky, the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, before sending it off to agents or publishers.
What’s the hardest thing about writing a novel?
Feeling guilty for the time I put into something I love, and therefore I procrastinate by doing housework etc.
How do you market and promote your work?
An online presence is very important for authors, so I have a Facebook page, a Twitter page and a website. I print leaflets and pay a nominal amount for them to be posted in shop windows, community noticeboards or leave in waiting rooms (after first asking permission). I’ve contacted WH Smiths and Waterstones and have done book signings and talks in both. It’s lovely to actually meet my readers. I’ve also been interviewed on the radio, which was nerve-racking beforehand, but when I got chatting, I relaxed into it.
Have you any tips for new authors?
Don’t give up on your dream. Keep learning, keep reading, keep writing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
In the beginning of my writing path, I called myself an aspiring writer. I was told by a wonderful Twitter friend (@Mariam_Kobras) that if I was writing I was already a writer, not an aspiring one. This small message gave me more confidence in myself.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself:
At the age of 40 I had my first (and only) tattoo. I have my children’s names on the inside of my right wrist. Rose, Luke, Jack.
I’ve worked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in a military hospital’s neo natal unit.
I make miniature book earrings. (see image)
We've loved chatting to Angela and thank her for spending time with us in The Hub. We wish her many more successes with her writing, jewellery and art.
You can get in touch with Angela here: www.angelabarton.net
and if you want a really special gift, don't forget to visit: www.needlepullingthread.co.uk