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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

Tell me a bit about who you are? 

My name is Stephen Black, a blogger and fantasy writer from Northern Ireland. I live in the rolling countryside outside Belfast with my wife, Fionnuala. We have three teenage children (Adam, Hannah, and Rebecca) and a border terrier, called Charlie. 

Stephen Black, author of Skelly's Square and No Longer Forsaken, interview on The Table Read
Stephen Black

When did you first want to write a book?

I started a blog, FracturedFaithBlog, about four years and got into a habit of writing regularly. People seemed to enjoy my work and the idea to write a book gradually took hold from there. About a year into the blog I got the idea for the Kirkwood Scott Chronicles.’ 

How long did it take to complete your first book? 

The first book in the series, ‘Skelly’s Square’ took around a year, on and off. I set it down a few times and stupidly wrote it back to front and upside down lol. So, a LOT of editing was required. 

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write No Longer Forsaken? 

‘No Longer Forsaken’ is the third book in the ‘Kirkwood Scott’ series. It’s a four-book series so the reason I wrote it is fairly self-explanatory lol. It’s the story expanding and unfolding as I see it in my mind’s eye.

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What were your biggest challenges with writing Skelly’s Square? 

Finding the time. I have a full-time job so it was largely written on the train commuting to and from work every day. On my phone and then later transferred onto the laptop.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Stephen Black Book 1

Kirkwood is an exaggerated version of my 25-year old self. I wrote him to make people more aware of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which I was diagnosed with about ten years ago. The book seeks to educate others regarding this horrible, debilitating, but very misunderstood mental illness. 

Who are what inspired you when creating your Antagonist? 

Augustus Skelly is the voice in Kirkwood’s head. Kirkwood thinks it’s a manifestation of his OCD or is there more to Skelly than meets the eye? He’s based on an old soldier I once interviewed. A real rogue with a twinkle in his eye. 

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What is the inciting incident in Skelly’s Square?

The death of Kirkwood’s father, when Kirkwood is an 11 year old boy. This triggers Kirkwood’s OCD as he is convinced he is responsible. Skelly plays on this fear and Kirkwood becomes a prisoner to his obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. 

Did you plot Skelly’s Square in advance or fly by the seat of your pants?

I’m a complete pantser. I make it up as I go along as the plot only comes to me as I engage in the actual act of writing. If I tried to plot a book I would be staring at a blank page for hours on end. 

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Do you get support with editing Skelly’s Square? 

My wife is my greatest beta and I have a small, but very dedicated, cadre of other beta readers. I also have a great publisher, River Dixon at Potters Grove Press, who picks up a lot.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give?

Just write. Don’t listen to the doubters. Get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper or laptop screen. 

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Can you give me a hint about future books?

Aaaarggh! So many. A Kirkwood Scott spin-off novella based on Maura Miller, a character from ‘A New Jerusalem,’ the second book in the series. Then Book 4 in the series followed by a duology set in futuristic Northern Ireland. Tentatively titled ‘This Troubled Land Of Ours’ and ‘Gracetown.’ And lots, lots more further down the road.

Am I proud? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, yes, a million times over

Twitter: stephenRB4

And the blog is 

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