PLEASE TELL ME A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOURSELF
I have a degree in Engineering--which I never really used. After college, I was attracted to Christian service. I worked in a Christian school office for a while. Later, I taught at another fledgling school. At first I taught English because that was what was needed. I was fairly literate, so I figured, “How hard can it be?” Well, the program was pretty advanced and it was a stretch for me. I was learning advanced grammar the night before I had to teach it. (Now I see that God had a plan in that.) But when they needed someone for science, I stepped into that a little more comfortably. Later I homeschooled my daughter through high school. When I'm not writing, I’m on Facebook way too much. I also like to play Scrabble and other games--both online and in person. I enjoy old movie musicals. I enjoy cooking and baking. Cleaning, not so much. But I do it anyway.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER?
I was a late bloomer. I'm awed by writers who say they wanted to be a writer ever since they could read. For me, when my daughter went to college and I was done homeschooling, it left a time void. I began to play with fiction. And I do mean "play." I wrote some fan fiction, and fell in love with writing. From there, I worked on craft, and after a few hundred thousand words of practice fiction, worked on something original. Perhaps because it began with play, it took me such a long time to call myself a writer.
WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I think any book you read influences your style in some way--which is why it's important to read good books and to read critically. The authors who have probably had the most influence on my style are Donna Andrews, Rhys Bowen, and Anne Perry.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR RECENT RELEASE.
Gold, Frankincense, and Murder is a holiday novella--or novelette, I guess they're calling it. It's a pairing of a cozy mystery and a romance. Donna Russell, the protagonist, is a smart, slightly older heroine. Romance has passed her by as she's pursued her career as geometry teacher. She meets a nice guy volunteering at the local food bank. They become friends, and just when Donna is wondering if they could be more than friends, he disappears. When she starts looking for him, she meets his neighbor, Sam. Sam is a muscle-bound EMT and a friend of the missing man, and he tries to help her look--not that Donna wants his help. At least at first.
AS A CHRISTIAN AUTHOR, HOW DO YOU VIEW WRITING AS A MINISTRY?
I believe all writing is teaching. Whether it's a parable, an allegory, a highly thematic novel, or just pure entertainment, everything we read teaches us something--and stays with us to some degree. That's a huge responsibility for all writers.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE A STORY?
Research for a mystery writer is a little different. While many of my friends who write historical fiction really immerse themselves into their respective time periods, I try to learn as much as possible about police procedure, forensics, and crime. I've been to a writers police academy, toured a morgue and jails, and attended a number of workshops about how detectives really work. And I have a retired police investigator in my critique group. I really think it's good to get those details right, as much as possible. Other than that, I tend to research as I go along. A scene I wrote last week involved a circuit court judge, so my research involved lots of Googling, and then reading transcripts and even streaming some proceedings. With all the tools available to us these days, there's really not much excuse for not doing the research.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Study craft, and then get feedback. Join (or start) a critique group. Go to conferences. Enter contests, especially when you get a detailed critique in the process. And when you get the coveted feedback, learn how to evaluate it. Writing is subjective. You will get some advice that just doesn't work for you. And you will get advice that does work, but it may not be what you want to hear. Learn how to accept it all graciously and glean from the criticism of others. It takes humility and wisdom, but yields fantastic results. Oh, and that doesn't stop once you've been published.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH?
How to kill someone with a large, inflatable advertising balloon. Enough said.
HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?
Probably the best way is through my web site: www.barbaraearly.com.
Thanks so much for having me!
Barbara's novelette is available from Pelican Book Group on December 1st.