This week it’s my pleasure to welcome Barbara Hannay to the blog.
Barbara is a prolific writer with over 40 books to her credit. Her most recent release is Home before Sundown.
Coming home can break your hear… or change your life
For Bella Fairburn, a girl from the bush, her new life in Europe is a dream come true – not least because of her gorgeous French ski-instructor boyfriend. But news of her beloved father’s heart attack brings Bella rushing back to Australia along with her aunt Liz, an acclaimed musician who’s been living in London for the past thirty years. While her father recuperates, Bella seizes the chance to finally prove to him that she’s perfectly capable of taking over until he recovers.
But coming home to Mullinjim is fraught with emotional danger for both Bella and Liz. While Bella is confident she can deal with drought, the threat of bushfires, and cattle bogged in muddy dams, she fears facing her neighbour Gabe Mitchell. Gabe is the man she once hoped to marry, but he’s also the man who broke her heart. For Liz, Mullinjim holds a painful secret from her past that must never be revealed…
In the rugged beauty of the outback, new futures beckon, but Bella and Liz must first confront the heartaches of the past.
Thanks for visiting Flying Pony Barbara. Looking forward to reading Home Before Sundown.
- What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?
I find it important to “refill the well” and I have a few favourite ways. I love listening to music (mostly classical), visiting art galleries when I’m in the city – especially when I find paintings that ‘tell a story’. I love reading, of course and watching movies, and I try to include some poetry in my reading choices, because poets are so playful with words and insightful about emotions.
Travel to new places is important, too. But perhaps one of the most inspiring things is meeting new people and listening to conversations. Writers are terrible eavesdroppers, but we learn so much… <G>
- What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
I’m very disciplined about sitting down at the computer every day, and most days I achieve my word count goal, but I will admit to being easily distracted. The internet is a worry. My friends write such interesting emails!
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
Luckily I haven’t been badly blocked very often, and I’m fortunate that my husband is always a ready ear. He’s read everything I’ve written and he understands what I’m trying to achieve, so even if he can’t provide a solution, talking to his sympathetic ear can help, as can getting out in the garden and pulling weeds (we have masses of them here in the wet tropics).
Sometimes it just takes thinking time, or re-reading one of my favourite books to get me back on track.
Experience helps. I’ve written over 40 books and so I know by now that if I have a problem, there’s probably something wrong with the basics – with my character’s goals, or lack or them, or with motivation or conflict. If those elements are right, the writing usually comes easily.
- Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
I love writing emotion, so I love writing those scenes, usually in the second half of the book, where the emotional seeds that I’ve sown will pay off. I love scenes writing brimming with conflict and emotional punch.
- Which aspects do you least love (or detest!)?
I don’t enjoy writing synopses, but they’re the sorts of things editors need to help sell the book.
- What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
Oooh, there are so many, but my favourite authors of women’s fiction and romance are Rosamunde Pilcher (I love everything she’s written), Kate Morton, (The Shifting Fog, The Secret Keeper), Nora Roberts (especially her Chesapeake and Alaskan books), Susan Wiggs, Kristin Hannah, LaVryle Spencer, Jennifer Crusie…
- Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
My stories always start from an idea… a situation, usually a situation brimming with emotional ramifications: eg, a girl who discovers that the man who raised her is not her biological father (Zoe’s Muster) or a coming home to an awkward reunion (Home Before Sundown), then I work out who the characters are who are about to be plunged into this situation and what their emotional journey will be. I’m not much of a plotter, but I find that once my story’s well underway, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat is helpful for making sure that everything’s on track.
- Describe your path to publication.
I was teaching Yr 11 English and had to teach a unit of popular fiction when I discovered Mills and Boon. All my life I’d wanted to write, but I hadn’t found the medium that best suited my personality and suddenly I felt that romance and I were a match made in heaven. I had to write a romance of my own straight away. I thought it would be easy, but it took me four and a half years and four rejections before I sold my first book in 1998.
Thirteen years and thirty-nine books later, I received an email from an editor at Penguin asking me if I’d be interested in submitting to them, so a new branch of my writing life began.
- What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
Love what you’re doing and write the very best story you possibly can. With self publishing options now, the goal posts are shifting for many writers, but I still believe there’s a lot to learn from working with traditional publishers and an experienced editor. It’s not all about money. But no matter which route you take, if the stories are good enough, the money will come.
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