30 Oct 2013

Hello... Barbara Barrett

When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?
I like to think I was an early bloomer in Authorland, because I wrote a teen column in our local newspaper when I was in high school. Consider it an early form of the blog. Very early. Although I was supposed to “report” what my informers in the local junior high and high schools told me each week, a lot of what I did required a bit of fiction, since their accounts were somewhat sketchy and dry.
I actually started writing fiction sometime in my late thirties. Although my job in human resource management (then called “personnel”) still challenged me, I was seeking more in my life. Loved my kids and spouse dearly, loved my home, was heavily involved in school and church activities, but needed something more fulfilling. I’d been praised for my writing skills since fifth grade, but had never really gotten into storytelling. Since I followed the soap opera, “Another World,” religiously, having one of the first VCRs (remember those?) on the market, so I could sit back and enjoy the day’s episode nightly rather than relax with a martini, I got my inspiration from there. I loved the character of Felicia Gallant, the romance novel writer. One day the light bulb went on. Maybe I could do that too.
My first romance novel, The Sleepover Clause, was published a year ago September with Crimson Romance. Since then, And He Cooks Too, was published in March 2013 by The Wild Rose Press. My third, Driven to Matrimony, also by TWRP, goes into worldwide release January 15, 2014.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres?
I write contemporary romance novels. Considering I received my master’s degree in American History, you might wonder why I don’t write historicals or westerns. I guess the reason harkens back to my graduate days. Somewhere in the first semester of grad school I had this “ah-ha” moment I’m almost ashamed to admit, but what the heck, I’m old enough now, I can pretty much say whatever I want, especially if it’s to reveal personal details about myself. Anyway, I’d been sailing through high school and my undergraduate years of college with this idea that all I needed to do was learn or memorize the concepts of whatever subject I was taking, spit them back in an essay test, get a good grade and ta-dah! I would be successful. It never dawned on me until grad school that I had to absorb that information and do something, preferably something new and creative, with it. I loved studying the American Frontier, but to do my thesis on it, I needed to be somewhere where I could do original research. If I’d persevered, I could have found a way to do that, but I took the “easy” way out and selected a different period in American History instead, the Depression, because the Herbert Hoover Library happened to be fairly close to my home. To make an already long explanation longer, research of that nature was difficult, not fun. I wanted my writing to be fun and meaningful, hence I settled on contemporary times.
I also enjoy reading mysteries, particularly cozies, probably because they aren’t so graphic and tend to depend more on the cerebral abilities of the amateur sleuth. Just like my love of the TV game show, “Jeopardy,” I like to come up with the answer/murderer before the contestant/sleuth. I got into reading mysteries when I was pregnant with my first child. I wasn’t working at the time, most of my thesis was finished, so I needed an outlet for my time. Along came Ellery Queen and then Agatha Christie, and I was hooked for life. My first cozy is underway. As soon as I figure out who I’m going to murder and why, I’ll go back to it.

What's the title of your latest book? Can you tell us about it?

My latest book, Driven to Matrimony, is currently available exclusively on Amazon for Kindle and will be free November 12 -16. It’s about the hero and heroine’s reaction to the sudden, unanticipated engagement of his twenty-year-old film student son to her fifty-something movie star mother and the attempt of the H/H to convince the happy couple to delay the wedding if not call it off altogether. The heroine has spent the years since the break-up of her parents’ marriage cleaning up what she considers her mother’s “messes.” She’s tired of having to play caretaker, and this marriage thing is the last straw, the last time she’s going to step in and fix things. The hero’s small business is under fire from his competitors who want to acquire the new software he’s developed, and since he won’t sell it to them, they’re willing to go to extreme measures to get it from him. The last thing he needs is to worry about is why his son would be willing to marry a woman almost old enough to be his grandmother.

What inspired you to write it?
Years ago, I read a cozy by Leslie Ford about a murder on Folly Island, South Carolina. The idea of a small community on an island off the Carolina coast intrigued me. I also love the movie, “The Philadelphia Story,” not just the great acting of Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, but the fast-paced dialogue accompanied by their quick, witty dialogue. Everything happening in the space of a few days in essentially one location between just a few characters (with a few walk-ons) presented a challenge I couldn’t resist. Enter both the book and film, “Postcards from the Edge,” Carrie Fisher’s somewhat autobiographical tale of her relationship with her mother, Debbie Reynolds. It suggested that all is not rosy for the children of famous celebrities and got me wondering what would happen if a teenager suddenly had to compete with her mother’s fans and entourage when her mother became famous. All those notions came together as inspiration when I wrote this manuscript, although it’s based on none of them.
My goal down the road is to write older heroines. I don’t feel I’m there yet in my career, so instead, in some of my stories I’ve been creating what I feel are interesting, vibrant though maybe not entirely likeable older women as secondary characters.

Is it part of a series?
It wasn’t written with that intent nor do I have a sequel or follow-up stories planned. But never say never.

Have you ever spotted anyone reading your books anywhere?
Wish I could say yes, but no, I haven’t. Not yet. But I recently had a woman friend tell me she read as much of my book as she could one night until two in the morning and then had to finish it the next morning when she woke up. That was rewarding as well.

If your latest book was made into a film, who would you cast?
An auburn-haired Emma Stone would play Dina Maitland, the heroine. Julianne Moore would play her movie star mother, Jocelyn Maitland. Paul Walker of “Fast and Furious” fame would be Ben Cutler, the hero (I must have a thing for this type; I thought of him for the hero in another of my books in progress). And the son, Rick? I never thought of this until you asked, but how about Justin Bieber?

Who designs your book covers?
Debbie Taylor

What's your favourite Chick Lit book that made it to the big screen? 
“Under the Tuscan Sun” followed by “The Devil Wears Prada”
I’ve never been to Tuscany. It’s on my bucket list. The cinematography in this film is gorgeous. It always makes me happy when I watch the movie again. Also, the friendship between Diane Lane and the then less-known Sandra Oh is special. The movie is just charming.
As for “Prada,” as much as I loved Anne Hathaway’s performance, my girl Meryl was fantastic. She brought her character to life.

Name one of your favourite Chick Lit books?
The Boyfriend of the Month Club by Maria Geraci. It takes place in Florida, where I live half the year.

Name one female author who you think deserves to be better known.
As above, Maria Geraci. Maria is fast making a name for herself in the publishing world. In 2013, she was a Rita finalist for A Girl Like You. Love her tongue-in-cheek approach to humor. Full disclosure: she’s also a member of my SpaceCoast Authors of Romance chapter.

Where do you write?
I have my own office. In Florida, it’s the third bedroom, so my L-shaped desk shares the room with a tomato red microfiber sleeper sofa, a permanent resident. That thing nearly caused heart attacks with all three men who carried it in eight years ago and almost took out the archway over the door. It is remaining with the condo ‘til the end of time.
This is the one room where any of my handiwork is on display. I made the curtains that drape the two windows facing the courtyard below (complete with five palm trees) and two tan canvas throw pillows from a Waverly fabric that features red typeset letters in Courier font. Very writerish. On the wall to my right hang three pictures of my muses framed in red matte: Linda Howard, Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich. On the other side of that wall is a huge Keith Haring print I inherited from my son. Haring’s five people forms are dominated by a mouse figure wearing big yellow sunglasses, my homage to the famous mouse who dominates this central area of Florida.
Though I love “clean space” and strive to keep some on my desk, when I’m in the midst of writing, which is almost always, that kind of property is extremely scarce. My best attempt at organization is keeping as much as possible in stacks. My two-drawer filing cabinet is filled to capacity with various folders and binders. I love manila folders. They make me feel like I’m on top of things, although they probably contribute to my frequent searches for lost documents, since I tend to stick things in them and forget what I put where. I love see-through acrylic folders with string clasps even more, because I let myself believe I can actually see the contents within. I live in self-delusion, since I cram at least an inch and a half worth of paper in there.
Lest you get the impression that the artiste has completely taken over my decorating efforts, photos of my friends, children, grandchildren and my wonderful spouse take the place of honor on two walls. As much as I need my space and alone time when writing, I need them with me in spirit, cheering me on.

In the movie of your life, who would play you?
Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group via photopin cc
Sally Field. She’s about the same age and height. I think we sound a bit alike. I like her energy and fire when she’s playing a role, whether it’s Gidget, the mother on “Brothers and Sisters,” or Mary Todd Lincoln.

Speed Round...
Top drink to make you tipsy?
Kir Royale (I can get tipsy on just about anything. I chose something that sounded cool.)
Shopaholic or shopadon't? Shopasaleoccasionallyolic
Sky high heels or closer to the ground? Flat.
E.L. James or Jilly Cooper? Neither
Cry baby or tough cookie? Tough cookie, soft center

Barbara Barrett spent her professional career as a human resources analyst for Iowa state government, and that training has stayed with her in her writing of contemporary romance fiction. Now retired, Barbara spends her winters basking in the Florida sunshine and returns to her home state of Iowa in the summer to “stay cool.” Her first two books, The Sleepover Clause, Crimson Romance, and And He Cooks Too, The Wild Rose Press, were published in the past year. A third, Driven to Matrimony, TWRP, is available on Amazon for Kindle and will be released worldwide on January 15, 2014. 

Buy Links


  1. Thanks so much for having me here today, Suzy. Love the light green background. I look just like that Sally Field photo...not! But thanks for posting.


  2. LOL!!! I aim to please, Barbara! It was my pleasure to have you on Fiction Dreams! xx

  3. Driven to matrimony sounds like a fabulous idea for a book Barbara - I'm looking forward to reading how it all pans out!

  4. Kathryn,

    Thanks for stopping by. I love the cover and think it neatly conveys the tone of the book.



Hiya! Thanks so much for stopping by the Fiction Dreams site. If you have the time, I'd love to hear from you so please do leave a comment :D xx