In conversation with... Barbara Copperthwaite

I have known psychological thriller writer Barbara Copperthwaite online since we were both indie authors and always like an opportunity to chat.

How do you thinking having grown up in Lincolnshire has infiltrated (love your choice of word) your work?

Lincolnshire is a quiet place, full of huge skies and wide, flat spaces where you can see in any direction for miles, and that encourages you to watch, to listen, to be aware - all of which are vital to be an author. The landscape shaped my young mind and made me who I am today. Growing up there also gave me a love and respect for nature that is frequently referenced in my books. So, whether through atmosphere or language, somehow my childhood in Lincolnshire continues to influence my work, seeping into it as naturally as water through earth.

Everyone mentions those huge skies and they astounded me the first time I saw them, but I imagine the atmosphere of the place could contribute hugely to a psychological thriller. Are any of your books set there?

The incredible thing about those huge skies and that flat land is that as well as being breathtakingly beautiful and creating an almost unimaginable amount of space, it can also be used to create a sense of tension. After all, the problem with being able to see for miles is that you can be seen for miles yourself; there's no hiding and it's easy to toy with that prickling sense of being watched. Suddenly all that space can feel claustrophobic as there's no escaping it; a sky filled with huge dark clouds can feel as if it is pressing down on you. Alternatively, the sense of being alone can become terrifying absolute. There are lots of ways of using the landscape to create atmosphere, and it's something I've enjoyed doing in several of my books, but particularly in The Darkest Lies, where landscape became almost another character, as did the wind that is ever-present on the east coast. In the book a mother is desperate to find out what happened to her daughter, who was found unconscious on the sea marshes beside the small village where she was born and bred. The village and marshes are geographically based on the village of Friskney, where I grew up.

It sounds as though you are very tuned in to the natural world. Which is your favourite of Lincolnshire’s wildlife habitats and tell us about some of the things you’ve seen there?

Choosing is so hard, but I'm going to go for the sea marsh as it packs a lot into small space, and I tried to pay homage to it in The Darkest Lies. A lot of people are unaware that abutting Skegness beach is a place called Gibraltar Point, a nature reserve of international importance that boasts shoreline, sea marsh and freshwater marsh. No matter what time of year you visit, it's a place of beauty and peace. In summer the sky larks soar into the sky, in winter the air is full of the gabbling of so many types of geese and ducks, and all-year round there are the seals to appreciate.

Definitely on my list for my next visit. So, a final question: what can readers expect from you next?

I've a new book coming out early next year, which is as yet untitled - but what I can tell you is that it's set in a fictional seaside resort on the Lincolnshire coast. When Stella Hawkins agrees to take part in a documentary about the 25th anniversary of her identical twin's disappearance, she receives messages claiming to be from Leila's killer. Now Stella must decide whether to reply - and what price she's prepared to pay to discover the truth.

Before that comes out, though, Bookouture, are republishing one of my self-published books and I'm delighted it now has the chance to reach a wider audience. Flowers For The Dead has been a big hit with readers, who have enjoyed getting to know Adam, a serial killer who is looking for love.


Anyone who'd like to know more about me or my books can visit my website