Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I have author Sue Barr. I loved this interview so much – I felt a flood of emotion as her answer about benefiting a reader in his or her spiritual journey really resonated with me. Sue is giving away a copy of her latest release! Read on to see how you can enter to win.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in rural Saskatchewan (Canada) in a town called Shellbrook. We had a whopping population of twelve hundred. Believe it or not, we were the ‘large’ town where farmers came to shop. I met my husband in 1981 – a dashing air force pilot – and we married in 1983. We have two sons and the family has expanded to include wives and grandchildren. I came to the Lord when I was sixteen and have stubbed my spiritual toes more than once, but God is faithful and my relationship with Him is ‘rock’ solid.
Tell us about your current release: I’ve always loved Pride & Prejudice and have watched/read all variations. One day I wondered, ‘Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after P&P ended?’ As you know, once an author asks the ‘what if’ question, words begin to flow.
Caroline is the villainess all Jane Austen fans love to hate. Manipulative, arrogant, she’s a social climber of the highest order, but I believed she’s redeemable. From the start I planned on her falling in love with Darcy’s vicar and my job was to make him interesting enough to engage our spoiled miss. Enter Lord Nathan, third son of a Duke who came to the Lord after resigning his commission and is now Mr. Darcy’s new vicar. Through him, as well as fond remembrances of her saintly grandmother, Caroline begins a journey toward salvation and love. I’m not saying there aren’t any bumps along the road, there is. You can’t have a romance novel without some conflict and angst…
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? I would. I’m not in this to make tons of money, nor find fame. I love the song by Francesca Battistelli – “He Knows My Name”. It really speaks to my heart. The Shepherd left his flock to find the lost sheep and if my book brings one person to a closer or new relationship with the Lord, the angels will rejoice – and so would I.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? No, I truly don’t because that’s not what I’m writing for. I have goals I’d like to reach and I’ve attained almost all of them. When I first started writing in 2009 I was not living a Christian lifestyle – one of my spiritual stubbed toes – however, God pursued me and gently led me back to a loving relationship with Him. It was then I made a conscious decision to never hide my light beneath the bushel. My goal is to honor God and write the story He places on my heart.
What’s the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? ‘The Goal of The Century’, when Canada beat Russia in ’72. True blue Canucks know exactly what I’m talkin’ about. Like most Canadians, I was glued to the television. Less than a minute left in the game and Paul Henderson scored on Vladislav Tretiak – what a sight to behold as the legendary Howie Meeker made the call.
Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? Elvis. ‘Nuff said.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I sold my first manuscript in 2010 and had four more stories published before I came back to the Lord in 2014. Even though I was with a publisher, I found that when it came to promoting my books, I did most of the work. When I had my rights from my previous publisher reverted back to me in 2015, it was almost a no-brainer decision to self-publish. I maintain control of my covers, back blurb, release dates and marketing promotion.
At times I bang my head on the desk because it would be soooo much easier to let others do the heavy lifting, like editing and formatting, and just let me write, but something holds me back and I have to believe that something is God. Who am I to argue?
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? In my personal life I lay out plans month in advance. I live by my calendar, but when it comes to writing… I’m a true-blue pantser desperately wishing to be a plotter. When a story begins to percolate in the back of my mind, I see the whole thing like a movie laid out in glorious Technicolor from start to finish.
With CAROLINE I dovetailed her story with the ending of Pride & Prejudice. I didn’t want to mess around with original canon, and had a parameter of six weeks to work with, which forced me to tighten the timeline and surprisingly gave me something to write toward. This is the closest I’ve come to plotting out a book. I believe I shall try that again. It was fun.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? Are you ready? The list is long and varied. At the age of four I started with Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, then came the Bobbsey Twins (I still have one hard copy), Nancy Drew Mystery series and the Hardy Boys books. My parents bought me all the classics. They came as thick double editions, example: Hans Christian Anderson on one side and Grimm’s Fairy Tales on the flip side. I believe there were twelve in total, making twenty-four books. From these I read Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, Oliver Twist, Aesop’s Fables…I could go on, and on. In my teens, I moved on to Harlequin and gobbled up Barbara Cartland novels like candy. My father cautioned me to marry a man who could keep me in books. I did.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? My husband has encouraged me to write for as long as I’ve known him. I’m not sure what he saw because I didn’t have the desire. Fast forward twenty-eight years. A co-worker sent part of a screenplay to me and as I read the scene, I mentally pictured a sub-plot and emailed that scene back to him and remember thinking, “I could write a book.” I went home that night, told my husband I was going to write a book and stared at the computer screen. I had no clue where/how to start. The first line in the story went something like this: ‘The blinking cursor taunted her.’
From there, I composed thirty-eight thousand words of the worst novel ever written. Charlotte’s Fall is still in my database, lurking in the shadows, NEVER to see light of day.
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