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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

How August was the month that changed my life #writerslife

A new name, new deal, and the chance for a screen adaptation for one of my books…! More on that in a moment – but what an incredible final seven days August gave me. After quietly working away for a couple of years, everything seems to be happening at once – but I couldn’t be happier about it.

August didn’t get off to the best of starts… Theakstons Crime Writing Festival, in Harrogate, had been the most amazing way to end July. I caught up with writer and blogger friends I hadn’t seen in ages, and laughed like I hadn’t laughed in years. Oh, I needed that! It was wonderful! But I caught a virus that, because of my immune system issues, floored me for weeks. I couldn’t work, and plans for my birthday had to be quickly revised, too.

Even the day before my birthday I sadly told my partner that I didn’t think we’d be doing much to celebrate my turning 50. My luck was changing, though. On the day itself, I woke feeling so much better. We had a low key but wonderful day together, with our dogs Buddy and Scamp, exploring Arthur’s Stone and Kilpeck Church (Kilpeck is magical. When we got back we looked at the photographs and saw that orbs had been around us the whole time) and then went for a meal.

After that I was able to start working in earnest on the structural edits from my amazing new publisher… But I still couldn’t tell anyone who I was writing for or what I was working on. Until…

My big news was finally announced.

I’ve got a new publisher (Hera), a new name (Barbara Havelocke), and a new genre (historical fiction) but don’t worry, because my stories are as dark and twisted as ever! Estella Havisham is an enigma in the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations, but you’ll get to know her well in ESTELLA’S EXPECTATIONS. She’s got a lot of surprises in store for her fellow characters and for you as she settles long-held scores…

You don’t need to know anything about Great Expectations, though, to be able to enjoy Estella’s gothic story, which will be published in hardback and ebook in Spring 2024.

Estella’s Expectations is described as a “chilling, darkly inventive origins story”, and “a dazzlingly imagined origins story of the famously cold-hearted Estella, reared from childhood in a house of darkness by Miss Havisham, one of the most iconic literary figures of all time”.

Just imagine for a minute what it would do to someone to be raised in darkness by a mother who urges you daily to ‘never love, never trust’. To be encouraged to be cruel. Think of the psychological damage, and just what the adult would be grow up to become…

I truly can’t wait to hear what you all think of it!

Keshini Naidoo, publishing director of Hera, says: “From the moment I picked up this chilling, darkly inventive origins story, I was gripped. Great Expectations is the most adapted of all Dickens’ novels and everyone knows Miss Havisham, whether they have read Dickens or not, so it has a wonderfully wide appeal.

“Giving Estella’s story a contemporary feminist afterlife, Estella’s Expectations explores what happens to this young woman’s psyche as she grows up in the shadow of the world’s most famous jilted bride. Must Estella embrace the dark destiny she has been raised to, or can she forge a new path for herself?

“This is a timely feminist Gothic reimagining of one of the most enigmatic of all Dickens’ characters and a gripping thriller in its own right. We are delighted to be welcoming Barbara to the Hera list and cannot wait for readers everywhere to discover Estella’s unforgettable story in 2024.”

When I was writing Estella’s Expectations I dreamed of finding a publishing team who were as passionate and enthusiastic about it as I am. In Hera, dream and reality have become one and Estella has found her home, because the team’s enthusiasm and vision for the future is right up there with mine. We truly feel like a partnership and we’re going to share an exciting future together.

And the best news is I’m still writing contemporary psychological thrillers in my own name, as well this historical fiction series as Barbara Havelocke.

What could top that exciting news? Nothing – I didn’t think. Until an email dropped in my inbox…

It was from a literary scout who identifies books with potential for adaptation to screen, and passes them on to production companies – and they want to read Estella’s Expectations because it has great potential for film or tv! How incredible is that!

Now, reality check, there are many, many stages to getting books onto the screen, and who can say what the future holds. But I’m enjoying the excitement right now and riding that wave of positivity as I get started on writing the second of my Estella books. 

August has definitely been an incredible, life-changing month. I can’t wait to see what September holds.

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