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Why you must read Sue Barnard’s The Ghostly Father


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The Ghostly Father” is a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet, but with a couple of major new twists – not least of which is that in this version, Shakespeare’s star-cross’d lovers don’t die. The book is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale.

Romeo and Juliet is like sacred text to so many people. Isn’t it a risk tampering with it and giving it a happy ending? Who’s it aimed at?
Anyone who loves the original Romeo & Juliet story but would have preferred a happier outcome.

That’s told us!
I came across one of those lists of “Things you must do before you die.” One of the things on that list was: “Write the book you want to read.” The book I’ve always wanted to read is the version of Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending. It naturally followed that if this book didn’t already exist, I’d have to write it myself.

Since they don’t die, I guess your story isn’t a tragedy. What is it?
I’ve always thought of it as a “What if…?” It’s difficult to categorise it exactly. I guess “Historical Fantasy/Alternative History” comes the closest to describing it.

What do we need to know about your Romeo and Juliet?
Romeo & Juliet (Giulietta in this version) need very little introduction. The central character is Lorenzo (the character known in the play as Friar Lawrence), and the story is told from his point of view. I’ve always found him to be a fascinating character, and have often wondered why, in the play, he behaved as he did. By giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I’ve tried to offer some possible answers.

Remind us who Lorenzo/Friar Lawrence is. Lorenzo is a mediaeval monk. He’s essentially a very caring person, for all his faults.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
I have another novel due out later this year, but don’t have a publishing date at this stage. It’s a romantic mystery called “Nice Girls Don’t.”

In the meantime, my publisher (Crooked Cat Publishing) has just released a free e-book anthology of short stories, including one of mine. It’s available free from Smashwords.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m married with two grown-up sons (one of whom once described me as “professionally weird” because I’ve worked as a question-setter for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult “Round Britain Quiz”). I’m a member of the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing and am also a published and prizewinning poet. I live in Cheshire with my wonderfully patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?
I don’t have a website, but I do have a blog.

What about social media?
Twitter: @SusanB2011

How easily do new storylines come to you? If we give you four random words – Man, Woman, Mexico, Future – can you give us a brief storyline?
A man visits a fortune-teller whilst on holiday in Mexico. The fortune-teller gives him what he thinks is a standard spiel, which leaves him less than impressed. On leaving the fortune-teller’s booth he catches sight of a strikingly beautiful woman. He approaches her, but his attention is momentarily distracted and when he looks again she has vanished. Weeks later, back at home, he meets her in the flesh. She tells him that she has never been to Mexico, and he then realises that his first sight of her must have been a vision of the future.

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