My guest in the Plotting Shed this month is #Judith Barrow



Meet Judith Barrow, best-selling author of family sagas, creative writing teacher, social networker with the best jokes and someone I\’m proud to call my friend.


Best-selling author Judith Barrow
\”Hi, Judith, and welcome to the Plotting Shed.\”
\”Thanks Alex, great to be here and fabulous garden, by the way.\”
I love Judith\’s broad northern accent. It\’s warm, friendly and inclusive and matches the twinkle in her blue eyes. \”Thank you, it looks alright, if you ignore the weeds! Pull up a chair.\”
Judith sits down on my thinking couch. \”Will do, cheers.\”
\”Fancy a cuppa from my trusty thermos?\”
Knowing my other job is in plant medicine, Judith replies, \”Is it Fennel today… or Peppermint? Or a surprise?\”
\”My very ow Wake-Up tea is today\’s tipple; equal parts of Peppermint, Nettle and Green Tea. Are you warm enough? I\’ll turn up the heater.\”
\”No, thanks, I’m fine; it’s lovely and cosy in here.\”
\”Yep, The Plotting Shed is fully insulated. We\’ll be snug as bugs; in fact you might find a few under the settee, but don\’t worry about it. Now, let me ask you a few questions about your writing, Judith.\”
\”Fire away.\”
 1.                      \” Why do you write, Judith?\”

\”I suppose the answer is because I can’t not write. I don’t think that\’s
grammatically correct but I hope you know what I mean. I’ve been writing forever. I’m not saying I’ve always been good at writing but I hope I’ve become better at it as the years have gone on. I do know I get very irritable if I go a couple of days without putting pen to paper of fingers to keyboard. Sorry, a bit of a long- winded answer; my husband says I write as I talk – too much!\”
2.                       \”Which is the best part of the process for you?\”
\”The start of any novel is exciting, and the research; that’s when I know that what I want to write will work. And that’s when the slog starts.\”
3.                       \”Do you draw on personal experiences for your stories or do they need a lot of        research?\”
\”I think it’s a third of the first and two thirds of the second. I’m a people –watcher, always have been. When I was a child I always tried to blend into the background. It was a rather turbulent time and I sometimes wish I didn’t have such a good memory. But it helps with the gritty parts of my books.  As for the research; I love it. So much so that sometimes I lose hours going from one thing to another before I realise hours have passed. In the end it all comes in useful whether it’s giving the book a sense of place or a sense of the era that I’m writing about.\”
4.                      \”Are all your books set in places you know personally?\”
\”Some; not all. The trilogy certainly is, although I’ve changed the names. All three books are set around a Lancashire town and a Welsh village; both of which I know well – but in earlier decades.
5.                       \”Have you a preferred genre or do you write in more than one?\”
\”I write family sagas which are a cross genre with historical fiction, mystery  and crime. Hmm! Saying that I’m not quite sure now what genre I write in.\”
6.                       \”What do you enjoy reading?\”
\”I love reading sagas. And historical books. And crime fiction. And mysteries. Oh, think there’s a theme emerging here. I also review books on Rosie Amber’s team #RBRT and try there to get out of my comfort zone, so I have read cosy romance, fantasy and one, just the one, book that had vampires and suchlike in it. Not my thing at all!\”
7.                       \”How much time do you spending writing as opposed to social media and networking? You post the best jokes on Facebook, by the way.\”
\”Too much time on social media. I promise myself I’ll write and then, before I know it, I’ve spent the last hour on social media. But I also go to craft fairs with my books,  carry out book signings and give talks on research etc. to all sorts of groups (hint, hint here, just in case any of your readers belong to groups. Sorry, is that cheeky?). These are lovely because I get to meet actual readers and chat to them; find out what they like to read… and, of course whether they enjoyed my books. Or, if they didn’t, why not; it’s always useful to know and learn from people.\”
8.                     \”I met you through the Tenby Book Fair you created about four years ago. What was it that motivated you to start this annual event?\”
\”I’d wanted to be part of a book fair ever since the first of the trilogy came out but hadn’t found one I was confident enough to join in on. So I decided to organize one for local and Welsh authors and it was accepted as part of the Tenby Arts Festival. At that time there weren’t many authors I knew; in fact the only one was a friend who writes children’s books, Sharon Tregenza. But I cast around and found you and Thorne Moore. Fortunately for me I was able to coerce… er …  persuade you to help with the following year’s Fair and, as you know, it’s grown in popularity ever since.  Your input has been brilliant; I can’t thank you both enough, and I think this last year’s Fair was our best ever. And we’ve also been lucky with being the first on the programme. This year it will be on Saturday the 24th September.\”
9.                   \”Have you always wanted to be a writer? Have you worked in other roles along the way? Which was your best/worst job?\”
\”Yes, as a child I always thought I would be a famous author one day. I’ve settled for being moderately well known and enjoying what I do.  In a former life I was always in the Civil Service. Grotty jobs? Well, since we moved to Pembrokeshire, I’ve cleaned caravans in the holiday season (which wasn’t that bad actually as I worked alongside some wonderful characters, hmm, people!) I’ve stitched suede slippers and bled all over them (that only lasted a day, my husband couldn’t stand the cries of pain!) Best job? Jobs really.  First, of course, is being a wife and mother to three children and now a grandmother  (a Nanna).  Along time ago I qualified and taught swimming, which I loved. And I made novelty cakes for a long time which started out as a hobby and then I began to be commissioned for them. I still like to make the odd one for the family if it’s an occasion.\”
10.                   \”Tell me about your current project.\”
\”I’m writing the prequel to the trilogy; working title ‘Foreshadowing’. And I’ve finished the first draft of a book called The Memory, which is slightly different from the trilogy but still has a saga feel, I think.\”
11.          \”Where do you get your ideas from?\”
\”I don’t know. Things just occur to me. Then I remember something that happened and before I realise, it becomes an idea for a book.\”
12.          \”You also teach several creative writing classes, Judith. What do you tell your students are the golden rules of writing?\”
\”Write, write write. Practice, practice, practise. Then listen to me and learn from my mistakes. Hah!\”

\”Thank you for answering these questions, Judith.\”
\”No, thank you for letting me into your wonderful Plotting Shed; I’m honoured and I’ve had a great time.  Any more of that lovely tea?\”
Judith\’s blog site:

Judith\’s sequel of books in the Shadows and Patterns Saga:

Amazon. – Pattern of Shadows:

                            Changing Patterns:
                            Living in the Shadows: –    Pattern of Shadows:
                            Changing Patterns:
                            Living in the Shadows: au – Pattern of Shadows:
                            Changing Patterns:
                            Living in the Shadows: –       Pattern of Shadows:
                           Changing Patterns:
                           Living in the Shadows: –      Pattern of Shadows:
                           Changing Patterns:
                           Living in the Shadows:

Judith is published by :
Honno (publishers):


on #giving

They say everything that goes around, comes around.
Give and it comes back to you.
I donated a couple of copies of the paperback version of The Twisted Vine to a fundraiser for that wicked disease we all know and dread, the big C.

Today, I had this review in return:

\”I love love loved this book – it transported me back to grape picking albeit not in France but to everything that goes with it – the pain, the company, the food. I loved the way this is written and for the first time in years I read it in three days! Five star read for sure.\”

#indtale magazine has nominated Peace Lily for a bookcover competition!

OMG! Peace Lily, Book Two of the Katherine Wheel Series has been nominated for a best cover award in Indtale magazine! So, as well as thanking Jane Dixon-Smith for her design, can I ask everyone to vote for the cover via this link? 

 and here\’s the cover to remind you:

#Brooklands Bulletin Review of Speedwell

I\’m thrilled with this review of Speedwell, now published in the Brooklands Bulletin Magazine and written by its editor, Diana Willows. Diana has been incredibly supportive after I met her at Brooklands on a research trip a year ago this month. As she drove us around the racing track, with me hanging on for dear life as we negotiated the really steep curving bank, she asked me why I was there and I told her all about the third book in the Katherine Wheel trilogy. She\’s since read the book and here\’s the photos of her review and magazine.

Brooklands Bulletin Magazine for January/February 2016

Diana\’s review of Speedwell

And here\’s Diana Willow\’s review in full:
Speedwell – book three in the Katherine Wheel series, by
Alex Martin £8.99 in the Museum Shop.

Speedwell is a compelling and intriguing story weaved against a
backdrop of life in the 1920s. The adventure features the well-born
Cassandra Flintlock-Smythe and her keen American racing driver
husband, Douglas, who live on their Wiltshire estate. Running
parallel are the lives of Katy and husband Jem. Katy, formerly a maid
at the manor, is ahead of her time and as a qualified motor engineer
is never happier than when brandishing an oily rag and tuning cars.
She runs her own garage business and comes up with a clever
invention that could have a major impact on the world of motor
racing and beyond. The pair have risked their future on the garage
and on making it a success. The story takes the reader on a rollercoaster
ride as it tracks the ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies
of all their fortunes. This is a fast-paced read, with many surprises
along the way featuring racing at Brooklands and beyond.
Alex Martin reminds us that the characters and most of the places
are created from her imagination and while historical facts have
been researched carefully, she is clear about taking liberties with
dates and the use of artistic licence to fit the story.
The Amazon link for an e-book version is
The first two books in the Katherine Wheel series are book one – Daffodils and book two – Peace Lily.
Each is a complete story.
Diana Willows