John Barber

Biography

John Barber was born in London at the height of the UK Post War baby boom. The Education Act of 1944 saw great changes in the way the nation was taught; the main one being that all children stayed at school until the age of 15 (later increased to 16). For the first time working class children were able to reach higher levels of academic study and the opportunity to gain further educational qualifications at University.

This explosion in education brought forth a new aspirational middle class; others remained true to their working class roots. The author belongs somewhere between the two. Many of the author’s main characters have their genesis in this educational revolution. Their dialogue though idiosyncratic can normally be understood but like all working class speech it is liberally sprinkled with strange boyhood phrases and a passing nod to cockney rhyming slang.

John Barber’s novels are set in fictional English towns where sexual intrigue and political in-fighting is rife beneath a pleasant, small town veneer of respectability.
They fall within the cozy, traditional British detective sections of mystery fiction.

He has been writing professionally since 1996 when he began to contribute articles to magazines on social and local history. His first published book in 2002 was a non-fiction work entitled The Camden Town Murder which investigated a famous murder mystery of 1907 and names the killer. This is still available in softback and as an ebook, although not available from Smashwords

John Barber had careers in Advertising, International Banking and the Wine Industry before becoming Town Centre Manager in his home town of Hertford. He is now retired and lives with his wife and two cats on an island in the middle of Hertford and spends his time between local community projects and writing further novels.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Camden Town North London. It was then a typically working class area where doors could be left open, you knew all your neighbours and shopkeepers by their first names. My father was a true cockney and my mothers family came from Chiswick, West London and were involved in the care of horses. I was born at the beginning of the post WW2 baby boom and for many of us it was the first time any member of the family had gone to university and with the passing of the 1944 Education Act, stayed on to study into the sixth form. I still consider myself a working class boy despite my education and exposure to all kinds of literature and other academic disciplines. As a consequence at least one character in my novels is based upon this working class but educated background and it manifests itself in speech patterns and attitudes towards the social welfare professions. It is a kind of inverted snobbery. I find that some readers find this confusing and hard to understand and have mentioned that there are sometimes too many English colloquialisms - possibly true but this is how working class educated people often speak. Its a kind of hybrid language of local slang, cockney rhyming slang and more than a passing use of quotations from famous books. My detectives would rather give a local villain a clip round the ear than refer him to a probation officer. They resent the new ways, preferring the old fashioned way of settling disputes with a punch up round the back of the bicycle shed along with the secret cigarette smokers.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have had a lot of articles published in mainstream magazines and newspapers. I thought that this experience would help me through the process of attracting the interest of publishers and then agents. I was wrong. It is a long and can be a demoralising process, the rejection slips just kept coming. However back in 2001 maybe earlier the concept of ebooks was to excuse the pun, quite novel. I had written a dark comedy based on my life in a small town called A Little Local Affair. I sent it to a ebook publishing company called Bookbooters.com. I was the only UK author on their books and one of the partners had lived in the same part of North London as myself. The book was published and sold quite well. Then tragically the other partner died in a canoeing accident and the surviving one found the work load too much so the company folded. However I realised the potential of ebooks and the painstaking and often fruitless pursuit of an agent or publisher. My full time job as Town Centre Manager took over my life and my writing took a back seat. However I stabbed away at the keyboard and started to write again in my free time as a way of releasing the stress of the job. Based on my knowledge of the industry it was an easy decision to make to prefer the indie route. Although you may get published you still have to work at your craft and at marketing so it is not as easy as it might seem if you wish to sell plenty of copies.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find John Barber online


Books

Death, Dying and Disappearing During the 1980's
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,890. Language: British English. Published: September 23, 2014. Category: Nonfiction » Social Science » Death & Dying
This is a collection of news stories about death and dying. They were assembled by the author from scrapbooks maintained during he 1980’s. They are all true stories however bizarre they may appear. There are tales of death by design, by unfortunate accident, death in the animal world, wills, ghosts and the loss of once common or everyday items. A book to dip into, rather than a long read.
The Fordhamton Trilogy
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Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 4. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 203,990. Language: British English. Published: September 11, 2014. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
“Did you hear that, the third most boring town in Britain. This from a place that was covered in green paint, private investigators found dead, sex perverts serving on the council, a plague of vampire bats, sex parlours, mad women going around stabbing cross dressers with hatpins and a man on the loose who became England’s most wanted criminal. I would hate to serve in the town that came first.”
The Russian Doll
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Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 53,580. Language: British English. Published: September 8, 2014. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
The murders of the Council Archivist, the Financial Director at the brewery and the Town Clerk do not at first to appear to be connected. DI Winwood is met with a less than helpful town as it seems every one is not telling the whole truth. The more he digs the more confusing the case becomes and his new female constable puts her own career at risk in their search for the truth.
The Wicked Lady
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,370. Language: British English. Published: February 27, 2014. Category: Nonfiction » Biography » Criminals & outlaws
The Wicked Lady is a 350 year old legend of a lady highwayman. Her name was Katherine Ferrers who lived at Markyate Cell, Hertfordshire. One night she was shot and mortally wounded, rode back to Markyate where she died and was buried in Ware, Herts. Her ghost is said to haunt the area still. The legend is retold along with the life of the Katherine Ferrers and the truth revealed.
Seven Days in May
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Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 55,660. Language: British English. Published: January 28, 2014. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Sergeant Archie Tibble is partnered with the attractive Inspector Ruth Coleman when a death threat is made against the Prime Minister during the Rutherford by-election. Their professionalism is put to the test as romance flourishes. Winwood has to solve the murder of a reclusive ex pop star without his regular Sergeant but his and Tibble’s paths soon cross as older mysteries unfold.
Fifty Business Ideas
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,000. Language: British English. Published: October 29, 2013. Category: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Starting up
Fifty Business Ideas is intended for anyone looking for inspiration or to kick start a business opportunity. This is not a ‘how to’ manual or ‘step by step’ guide but stories of real businesses in the 1980’s that were featured in newspaper articles. There are a few failures which may also help to inspire a better version and some very risky ventures that could succeed with some fine tuning.
The Cricket Club Murders
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Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,120. Language: British English. Published: March 6, 2013. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
The first victim is stabbed with a cricket stump and the second strangled with a club tie. Detective Inspector Winwood has few motives for the killings and even fewer suspects. As the body count rises he has a race against the clock to solve the case before he is replaced. The only things that link the victims are the killer’s obsession with cricket and the letter ‘C’.
Colours of the Underground
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Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 57,150. Language: British English. Published: January 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
A dead body is found on waste land in the small English town of Rutherford. DI Winwood has no clues as to why the body was left there some twenty miles from his home. A second body is discovered bound and gagged in his own taxi. His investigations bring him into contact with a section of the town’s residents fearful that the deaths are connected to an unwanted property development.
How to approach writing a Risk Assessment for Event Managers
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,340. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Project management
The preparation of a Risk Assessment is now an essential requirement for anyone planning a community event. This book is intended as a guide for those unfamiliar with organising fairs, village fêtes and town centre celebrations. It is based on the author’s 8 years experience as Project Manager on a wide variety of community events including markets and late night shopping evenings.
So! You want to be British
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 27,570. Language: English. Published: July 11, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Social Science » Customs & Traditions
This book is a collection of more than fifty blogs posted by the author over a two year period. Cultural events, national treasures, famous and ordinary people who made the news illustrate what it means to live in Great Britain and to call oneself British. Most articles are quite short with more than a touch of irreverent humour and read together explain what being British really means.
Notes from the Stage Manager's Box
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,100. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
This is an account of the author’s time with the National Westminster Bank Theatre Club. There are tales of production disasters, memorable performances and the funny side of staging a show from the auditions to first night nerves and mishaps. The book concentrates mainly on the eccentrics and the things that can and usually do go wrong on stage seen from the viewpoint of a Stage Manager.
Childhood Eczema
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,130. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Children’s health
Childhood eczema is a distressing complaint for both child and parent. It normally begins as nappy rash and gradually extends to other parts of the body. This is how one father treated the condition by examining which diet, environment and medicines triggered a reaction. By eliminating and then slowly monitoring their re-introduction he found a way of balancing these elements to effect a cure.
Christopher Marlowe - the man who wrote Shakespeare
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,640. Language: English. Published: May 17, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Biography » Literary biography
Imagine that the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe did not meet his death in a tavern brawl on 30 May 1593 but with the aid of Elizabeth’s secret service escaped to Italy and an innocent stranger killed in his place. This essay assumes that to the truth and examines the works of Shakespeare as being influenced by Marlowe forwarding part or completed scripts from his place of exile.
The Last Resort
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Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 41,920. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
The first Fordhamton Arts Festival gets off to a bad start when the stand-in for the school’s production of The Real Inspector Hound is murdered during the dress rehearsal. Suspicion immediately falls on the drama teacher Jeremy Hawkins owing to his past as a student activist. The lives of the cast come under the spotlight and the list of suspects keeps on growing
An Echo from the Green Fields
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 26,040. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Travel » By region
This collection of articles describes walks around Camden, Hampstead, Highgate and street markets in London. Hertfordshire is featured with a history of Hertford, a ghost story and eccentric clergymen. English innovations such as Bradshaws Railway Guides, Old Moores Almanac, the waterproof mac and entertainers such as Sir Alec Guinness are included; and politicians to explain our eccentricity
The 1980's Quiz Book
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,290. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Games, puzzles and brain twisters
This quiz book focuses on news from the 1980’s with 20 different categories and over 340 questions in multi-answer format. It is unusual in that it contains news stories that did not make the headlines. These are weird, wonderful and odd stories and all true; useful for quiz masters needing new and unique material and those who enjoy reading about the slightly bizarre side of real life.
Quote Sport Unquote
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,030. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Reference » Quotations
This is a collection of quotes from all sectors of the sporting world; players, officials, press and spectators. It covers all major sports and some minor ones such as conkers and lawn mower racing. It is predominantly about sport in Great Britain and gives an outsider a unique perspective of how we view ourselves and how much we differ from the Americans in our approach to the game.
The tunnels of Hertford
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,280. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Social Science » Freemasonry & Secret Societies
A local newspaper reported that a secret labyrinth of tunnels existed under the streets of the small, English town of Hertford; and that modern day descendants of the Knights Templar still meet in underground chambers. This second edition has further research, more illustrations and two extra chapters. It traces the history and location of the tunnel system and arrives at a final solution
Insults - Old, new, borrowed, blue
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,010. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
Over 750 insults from the witty to the sarcastic, humorous to the rude. From the well known and famous to the dead and anonymous; from TV and newspapers to magazines long since folded. Many of these insults have not appeared in an anthology before.
Return to Fordhamton
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Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,940. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
The reading of Arthur Brown’s will threatens to disclose secrets that some residents thought well hidden. Tim Rose goes missing from a Training Centre and despite being arrested and released keeps ending up back in Fordhamton. DI Miles Davis is sent back to Fordhamton to unscramble the many events threatening the reputation of an International Banking Group and of more than one town resident.
A Little Local Affair
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Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 86,040. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
The strange events in Fordhamton started with the sudden death of Alan Price. Was it suicide or did the suspicious circumstances indicate murder? No one liked Price but most people in town needed him alive. DI Harley is just a spectator as political and sexual relationships emerge and the investigation made more complex with petty vandalism, arson and another dead body to muddy the waters.

John Barber’s tag cloud

1980s    accidental deaths    amateur dramatics    american football    arts    athletics    authors    baseball    basketball    britain    business opportunities    christopher marlowe    cia involvement    civil war    conspiracy    corporate banking    corruption    cozy crime stories    cricket    crime cosy mystery suspense whodunnit female private detective british series    customs of other cultures    darts    death    death of animals    detective    detective fiction    detective mystery romance    disappearance of a way of life    dying    e num    e numbers    eccentrics    eczema    election campaigns    elizabethan theatre    england    england setting    english comedy    english history    english humour    english traditions    event management    folk ballads    folk lore    food intolerance    ghost    ghosts    golf    grail conspiracies    hertfordshire    highwayman    history british    holistic approach    humour crime mystery    hyperactivity    ice hockey    insults    irony    kit marlowe    knights templar    london england    murder    murder and conspiracy    murder and mystery    murder mysery    murder mystery crime romance humor    musicals    mystery    news    normans    olympics    playwrights    pli    police comedy    project management    public liability insurance    quiz book    quotes    referees    risk assessment    romance adult contemporary    romance and mystery    romance between 2 women    rugby    secret services    serial killer    sex after 50    snooker    soccer    sport    sportsmen    sportsmen and women    stage management    tennis    theatre    theatre history    theatre plays    theatre production    tourist guide    traditional british detectives    traditional english    travel and tourism    tunnels    vampire    village traditions    werewolf    william shakespeare    wills    wit