Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, near Oldham,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for thirty four years.
She has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and a MA in Creative Writing with Trinity College, Carmarthen. She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children's books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor.
My latest book, my first eBook, is Silent Trauma. Silent Trauma is the result of years of research, and the need to tell the story in a way that readers will engage with the truth behind the drug Stilboestrol. So I had the idea of intertwining this main theme around and through the lives of four fictional characters, four women, all affected throughout their lives by the damage the drug has done to them. Their stories underpin all the harm the drug has done to so many women all over the world. The story is fictional, the facts are real.
Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Oldham, Lancashire, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country.
I was researching for an earlier book in the Local Studies and Archives in Oldham, while staying in the area, but reading about the mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood and I was sidetracked.
My mother was a winder in a cotton mill and, well before the days of Health and Safety, I would go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school.
I remember the muffled boom and then the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through the small door, the sound of women singing and shouting above the noise, the colours of the cotton and cloth - so bright and intricate.
Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease - and in the storage area. the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales.
When I thought about Glen Mill I wondered what life would have been like for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill and I knew I wanted to write about that.
So started 18 months of research
Book review by Steve Dube, Western Mail Jul 10 2010
Pattern of Shadows Judith Barrow (Honno)
It's Manchester and World War Two is drawing to a close. There's a war on, but it's not just the enemy who are the cads and bounders in Barrow's debut novel.
Her heroine, Mary Howarth, is a 22-year-old nurse in a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers; her beautiful sister Ellen, 18, is up for good times when she finishes work in the munitions factory. Their father Bill is a drunken tyrant and a bully who beats their mother. He was gassed in Wold War One and suffers coughing fits when he smokes.
This is the world of gasmasks in the rain, gravy browning on legs, girdles, chenille table cloths, linoleum, outside toilets, and Clarke Gable and Vivien Leigh at the pictures.
Barrow beautifully evokes those raw and edgy days with this well-paced, gritty love story that draws in some of the issues of the time including family, sexual and labour relationships, unmarried mothers-to-be, censorship, pacifism in a time of war and fraternisation with the enemy.
Lancashire-born Barrow has lived in Pembrokeshire for the past 30 years and has published poetry, short stories and children's novels as well as a play performed at Swansea's Dylan Thomas Centre.
This is her first adult novel and it continues Honno's record of publishing women's works not just because they are by women, but because they are good.
Lancashire Evening Post - Pattern of Shadows Review By Pam Norfolk
Published on Mon Jul 05 07:00:21 BST 2010
The grit, the grind and the grim realities of wartime Lancashire provide the backdrop for a gripping debut novel.It is a dark tale of bigotry, lies, betrayal and loss of innocence...but also one of renewal, loyalty and trust.
In March 1944, the war is taking its toll on 22-year-old nursing sister Mary Howarth - rows are tearing her family apart, air raids are hitting nearby Manchester and the darkness of the blackout is smothering her.
Her younger sister Ellen says she should be having a good time while she can, but her job at a prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs, rewarding as it is, leaves little time for pleasure.
And there is the added worry of her much-loved brother Tom who is suffering the indignity of imprisonment at Wormwood Scrubs where he is reviled as a Conscientious Objector.
Mary feels trapped by her responsibilities at home and is tired of hearing from everyone that she is 'married to her job'.
So when Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp, turns up at the Howarth house and reveals that he has been watching Mary for weeks with an eye to walking out with her, she is more than a little flattered.
Frank, a southerner who claims he was invalided out of the army after being injured at Dunkirk, is a good-looking man alright and, for the first time in years, she starts to feel alive. But there's something about Frank that she doesn't understand and doesn't like...
He detests her nursing 'Huns' even though to Mary, 'patients are patients whoever they are', and his simmering aggression starts to drive a wedge between them.
When violence finally erupts and Mary gives him his marching orders, Frank is not the kind of man to take no for an answer.
'You'll not get rid of me that easily,' he warns.
And when he discovers that Mary is about to embark on an affair with Peter Schormann, a German doctor at the POW camp, Frank determines to exact a deadly revenge...
Barrow's thoughtful and atmospheric novel shines a light on the shadowy corners of family life and strife, as well as exploring human concepts like friendship, love and respect.
A well-written and very wise first novel...