Last night, I had the absolute pleasure of appearing in conversation with New York Times bestselling author Fiona Barton at Barnes & Noble Eastchester to discuss her newest psychological thriller, THE CHILD. I'm a huge personal fan of this book, and had a fantastic time learning from Fiona about THE CHILD, her career, her writing process, and much more!
In this post, you'll find: a direct link to a video of our event, a recap of the event highlights, and a link to my review of THE CHILD.
Many thanks to Fiona for answering my questions - I was thrilled to participate in her US tour for THE CHILD!
Watch the Event
You can view a video of our event on Fiona Barton’s Facebook page!
EVENT RECAP: CBTB & Fiona Barton
It's always so special to discover that the author behind a book you love is just as thoughtful, engaging, and all-around inspiring as you'd hope for them to be. For all her incredible successes, both as an author and as a journalist, Fiona is such a humble and genuine person - it was such a pleasure to speak with her! I wish I could've written down every single bit of information she shared with me. Below you'll find the highlights from the many topics Fiona and I covered in our conversation!
- The plot of THE CHILD was inspired by a real story. While working as a journalist, Fiona learned of a story involving the discovery of the mummified body of a child. In real life, this case was resolved relatively quickly - there wasn't really a story there for her to run with. But it did provide the inspiration for THE CHILD.
- Speaking of Fiona's career in journalism: she has quite the impressive background. She's incredibly humble and would never brag about herself, so I'll do it for her! Fiona not only worked as a journalist for many years, but she continues to train journalists - and I don't mean just regular journalism school. Fiona travels to parts of the world where being a journalist is an incredibly dangerous job, and she teaches aspiring journalists there. Fiona reiterated that freedom of the press is nothing to take for granted - she has spent time firsthand where writing about the truth can literally get you killed. I have so much respect for her work.
- The character of Kate Waters is partly drawn from Fiona's personal experience in journalism - but Fiona also incorporated bits and pieces from many fellow journalists into this character. While Kate does have some of the same habits as Fiona - for example, keeping scraps of papers in her purse!, none of Fiona's characters are directly drawn from any one person. When writing the characters in her books, Fiona draws from both the good and the bad in people she's encountered throughout her career.
- Fiona's career in journalism informed many elements of her fiction writing. As a journalist, Fiona was exposed to so much: she covered many criminal cases (she told us about a case involving a serial killer that she covered!) and she has drawn from that exposure to write the police elements of her fiction. Being a journalist has provided her with a wealth of experiences to inspire her fiction writing. Her journalistic background does also compel her to fact-check; because her books involve portrayals of police work, she does ask real police officers to check some of the details she's written about the fictional detectives in her books.
- As part of her writing process, Fiona prefers to experience things firsthand, rather than doing research online. She likes to draw from real life for her books - whether that's from real people she's met, or real places she's been.
- Fiona's writing process begins with the characters. Personally, I think that's very evident as a reader of her books—her characters just jump off the page, and their humanity makes the reader all the more invested in the story's conclusion.
- For Fiona, writing book two, THE CHILD, was completely different than writing book one, THE WIDOW. As she put it, when you're writing your first book, you don't have to answer to anyone! No one knows you're writing - you could write one sentence a year if you wanted to. Writing book two is a completely different experience, and one that she found much more challenging. But now, in the process of writing book three, she said she's learned so much from these past experiences and is finding this book to be a totally different experience yet again.
- She's currently working on her next book - and it WILL feature Kate Waters again!! Fiona kept her lips sealed on the contents of this new book - except to say that it finds Kate on the other end of the press, now under some sort of scrutiny or investigation herself. I cannot wait to see what this book will have in store for us readers!
Book Review: THE CHILD by Fiona Barton
You can read my full review of THE CHILD at this link—or read an excerpt from my review below!
THE CHILD is ultimately a story of love and loss, and I was completely invested in the (often tragic) lives of the women upon whom this story is built. Barton’s writing will draw you in with a mystery that’s as much about solving a puzzle as it is about uncovering and mending the broken pieces of its characters’ lives. Yes, you'll be glued to this book's pages, but you'll perhaps most importantly be invested in its characters.
As our main character Kate delves deeper into the mystery of the Building Site Baby, she becomes privy to the innermost secrets of three women who lived in the neighborhood at the time of the baby's death. This is where THE CHILD really shines. Barton has crafted a compelling and three-dimensional cast of characters, each with her own secrets and fears. These women are flawed, they're sometimes despicable, and they're totally engaging. In a crowded field, THE CHILD stands out for its emotionally-engaging cast of characters, and the personal tragedies and quiet suffering that these characters are marked by. The final twist of this book is definitely shocking, but I loved this twist most of all for how emotionally redemptive it was, tying together the story's biggest question in a completely unpredictable and moving way.