Romantic Novelists' Association

Never On Saturday By Sue BaRNArd

15 December 2023

We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it? Hello, and thank you for inviting me to join you today.  My latest release is actually an audiobook.  It’s called Never on Saturday, and is a dual-timeline paranormal romance novella based on an old French legend.  Unfortunately I can’t say a lot about the legend here, as that would give away too much about the story.  But here’s the blurb:

Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present….

Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiously optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life. She settles into her student accommodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one fascinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess.

Then she meets Ray – charming, down-to-earth, and devastatingly handsome.

Within days, Mel’s entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled. Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.

But Mel’s dreams of happiness are under constant threat. She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray – or indeed anybody else – must never ever discover…

 What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story? Never on Saturday was inspired by a single line of dialogue which came to me out of the blue whilst I was gardening: My name isn’t [X], it’s [Y].  I’d recently found out about the legend during a holiday in France whilst visiting the area where it originated, and this idea prompted me to try to make a new story from it.  The novella has been available for some time in paperback and on Kindle, but the audiobook has just gone live on Audible.  The narrator, Sarah Pogson, has done a wonderful job with it.


When did you realise you wanted to be an author?  I’ve dabbled with writing for most of my life, but for many years my output was limited to poems, short stories, articles for the parish magazine, and occasional stroppy or whimsical letters to The Times.  It was a life-changing event twenty years ago which prompted me to start taking my writing more seriously, and at that point I took a series of Creative Writing courses with The Open University and also with the RNA’s own Sally Quilford.  Then I came across one of those lists of Things you must do before you die.  Most of them sounded pretty underwhelming – and in any case I’m not planning on dying any time soon – but the one which leapt out at me was Write the book you want to read.  I’ve always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet but wished it didn’t end so tragically, and the book I’ve always wanted to read is the alternative version of the tale: the one in which the young lovers don’t fall victim to a maddeningly-preventable catastrophe.

“Why,” I asked myself, “should there not be such a book?”  And the answer came straight back: “Why not indeed?  And if it doesn’t exist, then go ahead and write it.”

The eventual result was my debut novel The Ghostly Father, which is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original story, told from the point of view of Friar Lawrence (though he’s called Fra’ Lorenzo in this version).  I’ve always found him to be a fascinating character, and I’ve often wondered why, in the play, he behaves as he does.  By giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I’ve tried to offer some possible answers.  Plus, of course, I wanted to reduce the overall body-count and also to give the young lovers the happy ending they deserve.

How long did that book take to write? The first draft took about six months – though I should stress that at this point I was writing the book just for myself, because it was the ending I’d always wanted.  It was only when I mentioned the project to a couple of close friends, and subsequently showed them the completed manuscript, that the question of publication first arose.  The friends said that they thought the story deserved a wider audience, and encouraged me to try to find a publisher.

What was your journey to publication? Ten years ago, I began working as a fiction editor for Crooked Cat Books.  A few months later I learned that they were open for submissions, so I took a deep breath and sent them the opening and synopsis.  To my great surprise they asked to see the whole thing, then to my even greater surprise they offered me a contract.  The Ghostly Father was first published on St Valentine’s Day 2014 – a rather appropriate date, I thought, for a novel centred on the world’s most famous love story.  A few years later, following reversion of rights, a revised edition was published in conjunction with Ocelot Press.  The book is also available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by Danielle Cohen and Philip Rose.

Which fictional character(s) would like to invite to dinner? What would you like to talk about? That would have to be Heathcliff.  I did Wuthering Heights for O-Level, as it then was, back in the Dark Ages before GCSE.  I’ve always wondered what made him tick – and in particular what could have happened to him during his three-year absence from the story.  A few years ago I even had a go at speculating what he might have done during that time, and the result was Heathcliff: The Missing Years (published by Darkstroke).  I’d love to ask him if I got it right!

Who were your favourite childhood authors? Just the one: Pamela Brown, author of the Blue Door Theatre books, about a group of youngsters who set up their own theatre company.  There are five books in the series (The Swish of the Curtain, Maddy Alone, Golden Pavements, Blue Door Venture and Maddy Again), all written in the 1940s and 1950s.  I was first introduced to the stories by one of my teachers at primary school, and I still love them half a century later.  They might appear a little dated now, but this is part of their charm – helping to remind us of an era when life was much more innocent and much less complicated than it is today.  The books were out of print for many years, but thankfully the original unabridged stories were recently re-released and are now available to today’s readers.

What book do you wish you had written? The novel which changed my life: That Devil Called Love, by Lynda Chater.  It’s a modern reworking of the Faust legend, in which the heroine finds out the hard way that youth, beauty, wealth and fame don’t necessarily hold the key to lasting happiness.  I first read it when I was in my forties and starting to feel depressed about getting old, and I can honestly say that it changed my entire outlook on life.  The story is told with great perception and humour, and the whole concept is so ingenious that I’ve often wished I’d thought of the idea myself.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?  It’s a contemporary mystery set in the world of amateur dramatics, and is a sequel to my third novel The Unkindest Cut of All.

If you could give your younger writing self any advice, what would it be? Believe in yourself, and keep at it.  You will get there in the end!

About the Author

Woman with white hair, sunglasses on head, black top, smiling, sunburnSue Barnard is a British novelist and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction.  She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium.  She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.  Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird”. The label has stuck.

She now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

NOVELSThe Ghostly Father  (

The Unkindest Cut of All  ( 

Heathcliff: The Missing Years (

Never on Saturday ( Also available in French as Jamais le Samedi (

Nice Girls Don’t  (

Finding Nina  (



Dark London (

Dark Scotland (

Dark Paris (

Dark Venice  (

(All royalties from the sales of the above anthologies are donated to local charities)



The Ghostly Father  (

Never on Saturday  (


Author at Darkstroke ( and Ocelot Press (

Blog  (

Facebook  (

Twitter  (

Instagram  (

Bluesky  (

Amazon  (

Goodreads  (