Meet the Author: Barefoot on the Cobbles: a Devon tragedy by Janet Few

Today we welcome Dr. Janet Few to Meeting the Authors. I had a great time with this one! Read further to learn what selling hamsters, strange things with urine and inhabiting the past all have to do with one another!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I inhabit the past. You may find me lurking in my four hundred year old North Devon cottage (in the bottom left hand corner of the UK), or spot me thinly disguised as the formidable Mistress Agnes. This alter ego is a goodwife of a certain age, who leads a somewhat chaotic life during the mid-seventeenth century.

One way or another, most of my time is spent working to inspire others with a love of history, heritage and the written word. In a vain effort to support my incurable book buying habit, in the past, I have been known to pull the odd pint or two, sell hamsters and support very special schoolchildren.

Somewhere along the way, I acquired a doctorate in community history ‘for fun’. I have an international reputation as a family historian, giving presentations across the English-speaking world.

Any time that I can carve from her history-obsessed existence, is spent embarrassing my descendants, traveling and trying to make my garden behave itself. I am fascinated by human behaviour, past and present, real and fictional. I love the wonderful Devon landscape and leading my grandchildren astray.

In which genre do you write?

Social/local/family history non-fiction and an historical novel (although the latter doesn’t really fit neatly into an established genre).

How many published books do you have?

Currently available, 4 non-fiction titles, plus some booklets and one novel.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I have written ever since I could write. I still have a story that I wrote when I was four (a long time ago!). The spelling is ‘creative’ if nothing else.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I didn’t write my books, not even my novel, in the right order. Weird I know, especially for fiction; it surprised me too!

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

As a family historian, I would rather meet one of my not-at-all-famous ancestors to ask them about their origins and life.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot or to help you remember something if writing a memoir?

I walked barefoot on a cobbled street for my novel and tried many of the things that I wrote about for my seventeenth century social history. This included doing a number of strange things with urine!

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I have nearly fifty years’ worth of diaries of the ‘forget what did’ variety but I also blog. This is in a very different style to my writing, so it doesn’t really help! In fact, it just distracts me from book writing.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Having time to read six books a day and having a dog.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?

I really wouldn’t want to be any of my characters. The novel is based on a true story and they all led pretty tragic lives.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Fisherman’s Friends. It is loosely based on the true story of a band I enjoy and is set in the beautiful Cornish countryside, complete with brilliant sound-track. A real ‘feel-good’ film.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I am very persistent, which is handy when trying to achieve almost anything.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

The wilds of the Northumbrian countryside. I love the natural environment and unchanged landscapes.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.

A beach in summer, in the early evening when all others have left and of course the sun is shining.

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

Barefoot on the Cobbles: a Devon tragedy, is a ‘based on fact’ historical novel. It has won a Chill with a Book award.

Book blurb:

In the euphoria of the armistice a young woman lay dying. Daisy had grown up, barefoot on the cobbles, in a village on the rugged North Devon coast; she was mindful of the perils of the uncertain sea. Her family had also been exposed to the dangers of disease and the First World War but for Daisy, it was her own mother who posed the greatest threat of all. What burdens did that mother, an ordinary fisherman’s wife, carry? What past traumas had led, inexorably, to this appalling outcome?

Vividly recreating life at the dawning of the twentieth century, Barefoot on the Cobbles is based on a real tragedy that lay hidden for nearly a hundred years. Rooted in its unique and beautiful geographical setting, here is the unfolding of a past that reverberates unhappily through the decades and of raw emotions that are surprisingly modern in character.

See for more details.

I am incredibly grateful to you Janet for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself with us. I’ll be adding your book to my ‘to be read’ list and must check into the movie you mentioned too! Walking barefoot on a cobbled street and strange things with urine … Sounds like the makings of a song or a great book! I deeply enjoyed learning more about you Janet! It’s been interesting and fun! – Camilla

Learn more about Janet and where to purchase the book:

Janet’s website:

UK Kindle:

US Kindle:

Australasia Kindle:

Cananda Kindle:

Note from Janet: Although printed copies are also available from Amazon, if you are in the UK, please consider using another option, such as buying from Blue Poppy Publishing, from your local independent bookseller or directly from me. That way we are not funding the multi-nationals and my large stock of boxes will diminish.

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