From secret hobby to crime writer… a writing journey: Sarah Barrie

I’ve researched just about every plausible way to murder someone– and how to get away with it. At least, that’s what I tell my husband from time to time. Generally, when he’s annoying me.

It’s a long-running joke. But I have done that research. The crime writer’s internet search history being flagged by law enforcement has become a popular meme for a reason. Only a small percentage of that research will generally make it directly into a story, and at least some of the content that won’t, falls under the truth is stranger than fiction category. It’s the kind of content that should you try to emulate, editors would put big red lines through and mark as too unbelievable. But it’s those sorts of true crime stories that keep me hooked on reading and writing crime.

I’ve always been fascinated by anything dark and sinister. I started reading horror stories from what was probably an inappropriately young age. Stephen King dragged me away from glossy picture books and into the world of novels and when I ran out of his books, I broadened my author base, discovered everything from sweeping romance to paranormal carnage. 

It was a natural progression to tinker with my own stories, cramming them into notebooks and hiding them from the world. They were my escape, my secret hobby. Though I kept reading, growing up and general adulting halted this writing for many years. And then a very dear friend who’d contributed greatly the horse industry – my other great passion – died, and I felt I had to write something for her that reflected the work she’d done. So I did. I sent the story into an equine magazine and, not expecting much, I asked for it to be published. The publisher read it, printed it, and offered me the position of editor of their quarterly and annual publications.

I was not only playing editor, I was writing. Articles, sure, but I loved it. This kick-started my novel tinkering again and I wondered if I could get something published. I scanned the internet for ideas on how to begin and found an advertisement for some writing competitions the Romance Writers’ Association were running. Well, I thought, why not? I got my hands on some suggested reading and wrote my own little attempt at a romantic comedy. It did okay and was published. I wrote another story, Secrets of Whitewater Creek. This time I added a nasty, drug dealing stalker – my love of crime refused to be denied – and this one hit the number one spot on Amazon. I was ecstatic. I happily wrote six more romantic suspense novels before approaching my publisher about the possibility of writing something straight crime and much grittier than anything I’d done before. I was given the green light.

I was thrilled but also nervous. Should I just stick to what I’d been doing? What if I alienated my current readers? I wrote the story anyway and Unforgiven is looking like it might be my most successful book to date. It was certainly the most challenging and rewarding to write. Most importantly, my motivation to write has kicked back in after threatening to wane. I’m writing what I love most, and I can’t wait to write more crime.

For more info about Sarah Barrie, go here.