Hello there! and thank you for having me, I am delighted to be here on publication day.
A little bit about myself and my background.
I’m Christie Barlow, a 5ft 5in brunette born in the county of Cheshire. Now at the ripe old age of 43, I lead nothing but a glamorous lifestyle: ironing, mucking out chickens and horses and chasing after my mad cocker spaniel. I’m a mum to four, wife to one and have more animals than the local zoo.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you go about it?
My writing career came as somewhat of a surprise! Once hitting my mid-life crisis (but dodging the tattoo and the fast car) after wholly dedicating my life to the care of my children, they asked me what I wanted to do in life while we were discussing their career options. ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ I found myself answering, and so the notion was born. I had no idea what to write about, so after pondering for a couple of weeks, I started plotting a work of fiction based on the one thing I knew the most about: being a mother.
I began to write every afternoon and a year later my book, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother was finished. I self-published and will always remember the proud moment I showed my children the finished product. I stood in front of them, with a book that had my name on the cover and the message was loud and clear. If I could achieve something by setting my mind to it, then so could they. I would have been happy enough if my demonstration of what hard work and determination could achieve had ended there, but it didn’t. After setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, the book circulated extremely quickly and literally became the talk of the town! Within a few months the book I wrote to prove a point became an Amazon number one bestseller in the UK and the USA. I signed to agent Madeleine Milburn and secured a book deal with publishers Bookouture. I am now a full- time author and I am loving every minute of it.
Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
My first two books, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother and The Misadventures of a Playground Mother are funny novels about life at the school gates. My new book Kitty’s Countryside Dream is a feel good romantic comedy about life, love and family.
What is your writing process and how long does it take you?
My writing routine is very similar each day. I start the day by ambling across the fields with my best pal Woody. Once we return home I usually switch the kettle on, fire up the computer and then eat my bodyweight in Haribos while writing. On average it takes me five months to write a book and I think I gain about five pounds in weight with every book I write! From my initial idea I have a rough plan of where the storyline will take me but more often than not, I veer off in a totally different direction.
Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
My first two books are based purely on comedic scenarios of mothers that occur in everyday life, and as such it’s meant people reading the diary find it immersive and actually start believing these fictional characters are real, when in fact it’s pure fiction. This just exemplifies my characters and style of writing. My characters aren’t based on specific people but I have drawn on my own experiences and memories. It’s important that I am able to relate to my characters and love who they are – faults as well. I have to enjoy writing the story.
Now there is a very probing question, Shell Baker! I have! GASP! Everyone is currently thinking OMG is Rachel Young real? Does Christie Barlow know a woman named Penelope Kensington who she went speed dating with and named a baby Lulu? I’m sorry to disappoint, but all those characters were off the scale and pure fiction. However, in my new novel Kitty’s Countryside Dream, the character Kitty Lewis inherits a chicken farm. This book would have never been written if it wasn’t for a local farmer who sold me my very first chicken seven years ago. Since then, he has taught me everything I needed to know about rearing and breeding chickens. Chickens have become a way of life in our house and it was my very own feathered friends that provided the little spark of inspiration for this book.
What research do you do?
I can neither confirm nor deny whether I went speed dating for research purposes in order to write the chapter in The Misadventures of a Playground Mother! However, even though this novel has a light-hearted theme, it is heart-breaking in places due to the cancer storyline. I worked closely with a brave, inspiring woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer to ensure the subject was covered accurately and sensitively.
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
There is only answer to that question – Gary Barlow! I’m a piano teacher and love music and think he is a musical genius! I know you mean a fellow author, but I would quite honestly be a nightmare to co-write with. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! I spend most of my day wandering around, eating chocolate and making numerous cups of tea while tapping away at my keyboard. I can often be found talking to myself too. Being a writer can sometimes be a lonely job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What is my favourite book?
My favourite book of all time is Enid’s Blyton's first Famous Five book – Five on a Treasure Island. This book has stayed with me from the age of seven when I can remember sitting on an old trunk in my bedroom and not moving all day until I finished reading it. I have introduced all my children to these books. They are absolute classics and every child should have the opportunity to read them; they are truly fantastic.
What’s your favourite food?
Curry or Thornton’s' orange chocolates!
What’s your favourite film?
My favourite film of all time is A Few Good Men which I think was released around 1992. It’s a dramatic courtroom thriller. LT Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer who has never seen the inside of the courtroom, defends two stubborn Marines who have been accused of murdering a colleague. However, even though I know this film off by heart, at the last count I have watched it nearly three hundred times. I LOVE Tom Cruise and my gosh he looks hot in his uniform in this movie!
What’s my favourite song?
This is a difficult one as I love music! However, without sounding too morbid I’ve chosen Never Forget by Take That. Why would that be morbid I hear you ask? Well, because that is the song I want playing at my funeral! As I disappear behind the curtain, I would like everyone standing on their pews with their arms in the air singing this song at the top of their voices!
I love to hear from my readers and you can get in touch via my website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author.
Thank you so much for Joining me it has been fun. I must say you do have really good taste in music, have a brilliant day
Thank you I have enjoyed it. I have got a very busy and exciting day ahead of me.