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

The Wicked Lady
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,370. Language: British English. Published: February 27, 2014. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 55,660. Language: British English. Published: January 28, 2014. Category: Fiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,000. Language: British English. Published: October 29, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,120. Language: British English. Published: March 6, 2013. Category: Fiction
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
By John Barber
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 57,150. Language: British English. Published: January 9, 2013. Category: Fiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,340. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 27,570. Language: English. Published: July 11, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,100. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,130. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,640. Language: English. Published: May 17, 2012. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 41,740. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2011. Category: Fiction
When the stand in for the school’s staff production of The Real Inspector Hound is found murdered during the dress rehearsal it is not the kind of publicity the Mayor was seeking. This is the final part of the Fordhamton trilogy where spies, teachers and businesses find themselves under investigation by the dogged Detective Inspector Miles Davis who finds a most unusual way of solving the case.
An Echo from the Green Fields
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 26,040. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2011. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 15,290. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2011. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,030. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2011. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,280. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2011. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,010. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2011. Category: Nonfiction
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
By John Barber
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,520. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2011. Category: Fiction
When Councillors Val Masters and Peter Noone are asked to carry out the final request of the recently deceased Arthur Brown they have no idea that it could lead to their affair being exposed or the damage the secret sex life of the late senior citizen will cause to the reputation of an ethically correct Bank. Matters only get worse when a nasty virus spreads and a Banker goes missing.
A Little Local Affair
By John Barber
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 85,740. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011. Category: Fiction
When local businessman Alan Price is killed in suspicious circumstances cockney DI Steve Harley and the humourless DC Miles Davis find that the victim was universally disliked. Harley and Davis have to dig beneath the business, political and sexual intrigues in the town to untangle those who wanted the victim dead and those that needed him alive, before unmasking the most unlikely suspect.

John Barber’s tag cloud

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