Skip to main content

Fiona Barton: On Catching Someone in a Lie

New York Times bestselling author Fiona Barton discusses her brief encounter with a stranger that led to writing her new thriller novel, Local Gone Missing.

Fiona Barton is the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow, The Child, and The Suspect. She has trained and worked with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she lives in England. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Fiona Barton: On Catching Someone in a Lie

Fiona Barton

In this post, Fiona discusses her brief encounter with a stranger that led to writing her new thriller novel, Local Gone Missing, her advice for other writers, and more!

Name: Fiona Barton
Literary agent: Madeline Milburn
Book title: Local Gone Missing
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: June 14, 2022
Genre/category: Thriller/suspense
Previous titles: The Widow, The Child, and The Suspect.
Elevator pitch for the book: An ambitious murder detective, off sick and filled with doubt that she can ever work again, is persuaded to investigate the disappearance of a much loved resident in a seaside town beset with tensions. The hunt leads DI Elise King on a darkening trail of secrets her neighbors would like to keep hidden.

Fiona Barton: On Catching Someone in a Lie

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

What prompted you to write this book?

It was just a 10-minute conversation with a stranger, but it burrowed into my brain and has stayed with me ever since. I was at an event abroad where I didn’t know a soul and started chatting to a group at the bar. It was all very innocuous until another Brit started talking confidently about his connections, dropping names like confetti, including members of the royal household. Everyone else hung on his every word but I knew that he was a fake.

Unluckily for him, he’d picked a subject I knew about—I’d covered royal stories as a journalist and immediately spotted he was getting names and titles wrong. I caught his eye after one particularly outrageous claim and he went quiet, pretending to see someone he knew across the room, and left.

Afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about his reasons for reinventing himself –and the effort required to lie consistently. And the terror of being exposed. I suppose I loved the fact that it just takes a bit of chutzpah to create a new persona and shed your old skin when you arrive in a new community. There must be hundreds of men and women doing just that at this precise moment. Until a simple twist of fate—someone who can lay bare the lies—arrives. The jeopardy is palpable—and delicious.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

It probably took 18 months from first word on the page to publication day, but ideas can be cooking in your head for far longer before they emerge as a storyline.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

That creating a fictitious town is harder work than you’d think. I imagined it would be simple and fun, but the street plan alone kept me up at night. And, as for the cast of Ebbing’s residents—don’t get me started …

Fiona Barton: On Catching Someone in a Lie

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I think every individual reader will take something different from the book. That’s the joy of reading.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Two pieces of advice that might sound contradictory: Get going! And don't Rush!

So, get on with writing down that story idea that’s been nagging at you for years in a notebook or on screen—it’s the first step to writing your book and means you are taking it seriously.

But … you don’t have to rush to plot every line. Let your ideas cook and your characters unfold to you.

Fundamentals of Fiction

This course will take you through all of the basics of writing a novel, including how important it is to choose a great setting, how to build characters, what point of view you should choose, how to write great dialogue, and more.

Click to continue.

Who Are Sensitivity Editors? And How Much Does Sensitivity Reading Pay?

Who Are Sensitivity Editors? And How Much Does Sensitivity Reading Pay?

Sensitivity readers offer a very specific and focused edit to manuscripts. Here, C. Hope Clark shares what a sensitivity editor is, how much it pays, and where you can start.

Kate White: On Building In Brainstorming Time

Kate White: On Building In Brainstorming Time

New York Times bestselling author Kate White discusses the process of writing her new psychological thriller, The Second Husband.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 615

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a desire poem.

Writer's Digest Best Writing Advice Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Writing Advice Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top writing advice websites as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Love the Art. Work the Business. | Nikesha Elise Williams

Nikesha Elise Williams: On the Power of Self-Publishing

In this indie author profile, novelist Nikesha Elise Williams shares her path to self publishing and the creative marketing strategy that's led to her success.

Change of Plans

Change of Plans

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, there's been a sudden and unforeseen change of plans.

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

Author Ashley M. Coleman gives you her top five tricks for writing about the music industry—even if you're not an industry expert.

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

From planning ahead to staying late, Alison Hill shares 10 tips for journalists while covering events as a freelancer.

From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.