Author Interview ~ Barbara Phinney

Barbara spends some days volunteering at her children’s school, some days writing, and every day feeding a muse that seems to be working all the time. She and her retired husband live in rural New Brunswick, Canada, and when they aren’t volunteering, they enjoy a little camping, traveling and hanging out with family and friends.

Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?

I’m thrilled to be here! Thank you so much for this. As for your first question, let’s see, I started to write full time in 1994, and got my first novel published in 2001. It seems much longer than that, for some reason.

Do you think an author is born or made?

Personally, I think an author is made. I think one can learn everything you need to write a book, from good grammar, to plotting, to editing. But a voice is harder to pin down, as is the natural instinct to produce a better flowing story. Leadership is made, so why not authorship?

What is the first book you remember reading?

I can remember The Big White Reader in school, and I can remember reading Heidi, then I found Mary Steward! Great author!

What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?

I think they are all really tough, and unwilling to give up. That’s a good quality, as far as I’m concerned.

How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?

I don’t think you can. A good critique group may help you out there, but then again, it’s really a crap shoot, isn’t it? Unless your editor can catch on, then you’re doomed to find out the hard way. At royalty statement time.

What is the theme of your latest book?

Deadly Homecoming came out in December of 2008, and it had a forgiveness theme in it. Forgiving oneself, mostly. My heroine was a rotten teen, and she when she returns to her hometown, she’s automatically accused of murder based on her past. She must learn to fight prejudice, even her own against herself.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

There are several points in the novel’s journey that I do that. First, when I have enough to get me started and I want to get started on the novel, and let go of the synopsis stage, and then, later, as I begin to do the edits requested by my editor. I read them carefully, and when they begin to sound like the editor is trying to instill her personal suggestions, rather than those to help the book become a better one, then I try my best to keep the book logical, and flowing well, and come up with good reasons not to do that particular edit.

Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?

Very much so! I want readers to see parts of themselves, or people they know in my stories and take from that things that will help them deal with life. I remember reading a Deborah Hale book once and seeing my friend in it so well, I sent her the book, and she loved it! We both took from that book that men can be gentle and make mistakes and yet be loveable and forgivable. She needed to hear that, I think.

When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?

When I’m thoroughly sick and tired of the book! Well, maybe after I’ve read it over enough to know I can’t do anything more with it, and it’s as clean a copy as I can produce, even after it’s sat for a week or more cooling.

Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?

In doing research for my first Love Inspired Suspense, Desperate Rescue, I was over in Maine, and talked a friend of mine to cross the border illegally, back into Canada. Truth be told, she was more than willing to have me snap her photo as she climbed the three foot high wooden fence. And yes, we got caught by the US Border Patrol.

How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?

This book, like all my Love Inspired Suspense, is an action-filled story that focus on the emotions and growth of the hero and heroine. They come away from their adventure in love, and with a better appreciation for God and others. That first Love Inspired Suspense, Desperate Rescue, is about a woman, having just escaped from a cult, is asked by the hero, to return to it in order to rescue another woman. But while that may save that other woman’s life, it will kill my heroine’s.