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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome Guest Mimi Barbour...

Hi Bethany,


Thank you so much for asking me to join you today. I love doing these interviews. Gives me a chance to yatter on about myself. What more could any author ask for, other than a best seller of course? Or one of her heroes come to life? Or … (Keep focused. Right!!)

YGR: Tell us a little about yourself and your books.

My three books are part of a series called “The Vicarage Bench Series” and they started in a weird kinda way. You see, a few years back, I found out about a contest called ‘Through the Garden Gate’ sponsored by The Wild Rose Press. At that time, I had already written a full-length book, thought myself a Nobel-prize winner, or at the very least tomorrows best seller, and so I decided to enter the contest. They wanted a paranormal novella written about the heroine going through a magic garden gate. I quickly wrote 16,000 words and sent it off. I shudder to think of it now. Everything I write today has to edited and re-edited, but in those days…! Another thing that prompted me to put myself out there was that I had just joined the local RWA group. Their wonderful support inflated my already swollen head, and I guess I needed to see if I really did have any talent. The contest seemed to be the perfect solution. Wild Rose gave a lot of guidelines as to what and how they wanted the story written, silly things really, and so I blithely went along writing my own version. The only criteria I followed was for the story length. Bet you already know what happened? And you’re right. They wrote me and said they couldn’t accept my submission in them contest, but…they did want to publish my work as a stand-alone story. Sometimes it does pays to follow your own imagination.

YGR: Can you give us a glimpse into the book?

My paperback, called The Vicarage Bench, is actually an anthology of the three stories published so far. The first “She’s Me” was my original contest entry, and my first attempt at spirit/time travel. I had a lot of fun writing the story of a beautiful, spoilt model from today invading the body of a chubby, sweet librarian from the sixties. The second story “He’s Her” follows the same sort of spirit/time travel, only in this story a sophisticated, cranky fellow moves in on a virgin-sweet, lovely teacher. The third “We’re One” went slightly different, and again I pushed the envelope somewhat. A charismatic, casino owner forces gorgeous, casino starlet to hide inside him in order to save her from a killer out for revenge.

YGR: What inspired you to write the novel?

As you already know, arrogance inspired me to write the first story and after that I couldn’t help myself. I love plotting the details for these characters, who, in the course of the manuscript, become very important to me. I know many authors have their own levels of what’s vital in writing a good book—plot, conflict, even perfect grammar, but for me it’s always been about the characters. I like to read about people who I know I’d love to meet in real life. People who are slightly flawed, with a wonderful sense of humour, and love for their fellow beings and of life in general. I guess I can be an annoyingly up-beat kind of person, and that personality quirk tends to come out in my characters.

YGR: Is paranormal the only genre you write? If so, why?

It’s the only genre I’ve sold, but I’ve written a couple of contemporaries also. One is lurking in the bowels of my computer; begging to escape and be given a chance, but so far, just don’t have the time. It would need a completely re-write, it’s that bad. (First endeavours usually are.) I’m in the process of re-working the second, and lo-and-behold if a guardian angel didn’t appear this time around, and so now, it’ll be listed as a paranormal. Guess it’s my slant, and I’m comfortable letting my imagination have fun.

YGR: Do you have anything new in the works?

 I have written the fourth to the series called “Together Again” and it is in the hands of my editor at this time hopefully working it’s magic so a contract to publish will be forthcoming. This is the first full-length I’ve written for the series, and I must say, I loved it. I found I could build each plot-line slower, with more details. The characters really came alive, even to me, because I had the space to meet them slowly and let them develop them as they faced each trauma. This time the rose bush’s magic places sixteen-year-old Dani’s spirit forward in time to invade Mr. Perfect. Together, they save and adopt a puppy, help an old woman escape being burnt when her care-home catches fire, and argue constantly about his reporter’s need to write editorials on some of the devastated victims. Throughout these conflicts, they get the inside scoop on the beautiful allure of each other’s spirits, and fall madly in love. Once she admits to knowing how she can reclaim her own body, they make plans to meet in person. For him, the wait is one week, but for her, it’s ten years. Paranoia sets it. She worries about whether he’ll love the woman she is today, as much as he loved his sixteen-year-old inner roommate?
YGR: What advice would you give unpublished writers?

Have faith in yourself, in your talent and in your stories. If you haven’t had a background in writing, find a way to learn. Buy the books, read the blogs and join an RWA group. My goodness, not having any college or formal writing training, it’s been slog and plod for me all the way, still is, but I can’t stop. There are so many stories in my head, and I’m happiest when I’m letting the words flow. Not to say, I don’t have to edit, because I do…over and over, and then once or twice again. It’s worth it though, for me and others like me who know they have tales to tell. I can’t begin to describe the pride when you see that book cover with your name on it. You’ll probably find this a strange remark, but the first person I wanted to share it with was my book-loving mom. Humm—Wonder what Dr. Phil would say to that statement? On the other hand – if you decide to write as a career…please check the statistics as far as royalties are concerned. Be very sure of what you will be getting yourself into, and of the competition. It’s brutal nowadays. The Internet has changed the lives of writers more than we can even begin to imagine.
YGR: What is your writing process like?

It used to be that every moment at my computer was given over to pure writing—my stories came first. Now, not so much! This last year, I was president of our local RWA group, and those responsibilities took
time away from my stories. Not that I’m sorry. I learnt a lot by taking on this position, and I got to flaunt the title at my first RWA National convention. A person’s gotta get her kicks where she can—right?  I’m sure all authors have heard of the publicity angle that a writer needs to take on when she publishes her first book. I’m here to tell you all – it’s true! Even if you contract with a major publisher, do not depend on them to advertise you as an author. Most likely, they’ll advertise their product line, but if you want to get known, sorry…but it’ll probably be left up to you. Don’t know how it used to be, but today an author has to be willing to take on two roles—writer and publicity agent. Therefore, much of my time is spent in the advertising role. There is so much more to learn when you delve into the ins and outs of promotion. It’s time-consuming, frustrating and important. Takes me away from my characters, which I begrudge, but if people don’t know about my books, how can I expect them to be bought? But…because I’ve retired from a day job, I can get it done. I must admit to putting aside at least a couple hours every day for doing what I love best, catching up with and enjoying my characters.
YGR: Where do you get your inspiration?

This is probably the hardest question to answer without sounding like I’m loony-tunes. Let me see…I wake up in the middle of the night with plot manoeuvres waiting for me to write them down. Many mornings, the words wake me up and flood into my mind. I have a pen and a small booklet by the bed just in case. Sometimes, I read something and wonder what if…? Other times, I sit and search, and my imagination never lets me down. In fact, I get multiple angles going, choosing in which direction to go can be very difficult. I have so many stories plotted out, that I’ll never be able to write them all…. unless one wonderful day, I can hire a publicity agent. I do love to people-watch. Strangers have some of the weirdest idiosyncrasies, and it’s all fodder for a character’s quirks. I like to talk to strangers on the ferry or buses and aeroplanes. It’s amazing the tales some of the folks have to tell. I jot down the endearing, the gross and norm. It can all be used one day.

YGR: When you set aside your work in progress for the day, what sort of books doyou like to read?

I jump around all over the place. Right now I’m reading J.D.Robb. I love Nora’s books, but never got around to reading this series until lately. I seemed to be getting short of reading material, so a friend gave me a stack of these…. they’re great ‘who-done-its” and she’sbrilliant with her characters and dialogue. Other favourites are Sandra Brown, Catherine Johnson and my all-round fav is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love her, bad-boy—grows up, plots. She can make me cry and laugh out loud in most of her books – what could be better? I do love to read Jo Beverley’s historicals, Richard North Patterson, most of John Grisham (I like those courtroom dramas) and a new writer I’ve recently read is Sharon Ashwood, who’s funny and writes paranormal very well.
WGR: What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
Weird comes easy to me – so, let me think. Okay – got it! I was in New York and wanted to get a description of one of the fancier suites in a big-name hotel. Needless to say, the cleaning people in those
hotels have got their—I don’t give a sh-t want you write, get outta this room right now—kinda of looks down pat. She scared the poop outta me! Next time, I’ll go to the desk clerk and spin a tale of a
boss who wants me to check out accommodations before booking his suite. That might work??
YGR: Where can we find you on the net?
My website is http://www.mimibarbour.com/

I’m on Facebook, and My Space, and Twitter and You Gotta Read and AllRomance, and Coffee Time and… and… Anytime I see a place I can sign up, I’m there. At first, all these publicity sites scared the heck out of me, but after this last year, I’m a pro getting around. Whoever thinks that all an author has to do is write a book, needs to do a search for their missing link. I can’t believe how much time goes into trying to get your books out there, so people know they’re even available?
YGR: Where can we find out more about your books?

Just write me and ask. I love hearing from readers. If you go to my website, there’s a contact e-mail address there. Anything you want to know, I’ll be glad to answer. In fact if you want to just write and gab, I can do that too. It’s been fun answering the questions Bethany, thanks again for your interest in me. Have a great day!

Hugs Mimi

9 comments:

Isabel Roman said...

Oh, I totally understand the arrogance of finishing your first story and thinking it's absolutely wonderful. I refuse to even look at those stories now: I just can't take it! But I've worked with TWRP and love them dearly. If they thought your work was publishable, you shouldn't think otherwise.

I love time travels, and this sounds just up my reading alley. Best of luck!

Denise said...

Fun interview. Enjoyed reading about the "reality check" being delivered. Boy, we invest so much into that first piece we never even realize. Best of luck with The Vicar Bench Series!

Mimi Barbour said...

Thanks Isabel,
I now know I'm not the only one having gone through this kind of growth...makes me smile when I meet someone new to the game and I just want to give them a big hug and say...It'll all come clear one day.
Your are so right about Wild Rose Press - they're the best! Must be their wonderful editors.
Good luck to you also..
Mimi

Mimi Barbour said...

Thanks Denise.
Sounds as if you know what I'm talking about. I guess we all have to start somewhere.
Good luck with your career!
Mimi

Lisa McManus Lange said...

Great interview, Mimi! Loved the part about 'researching' in the hotel room. I know that your books have been a great success, and know they will continue to do so. Lisa

Mimi Barbour said...

Thanks Lisa,
You're too kind!
Hold it! What am I saying? Okay just take the word "too" out of the last sentence.
Mimi

Mimi Barbour said...

Denise e-mailed me this comment because she was having trouble with her computer and getting on this site. I loved it so much, I had to follow her directions and post it.
Honestly - Denise really did write it!!

Enjoyed your interview. Oh, I have no doubt you "researched" the hotel room. I am laughing because I believe the great lengths you will go to.
I enjoyed your three stories in The Vicarage Bench... and it left me wanting more! So happy to hear that you have a new book coming out "Together Again".
You are full of humour, a great story teller, and have a great imagination that takes your readers down paths they never expected to travel. I now look at rose bushes with dreamy possibilities.
That book that you wrote that is stuck in your computer, can you get the bits and bytes together and put it on paper please?
p.s. you are a little crazy but that is what makes you so loveable!
Denise Reichert

Carolyn Matkowsky said...

Great interview. I love the premise of your stories and the anthology cover. Very funny how you entered the WRP contest and didn't follow the rules, but you ended up a winner anyway. Good for you!

From another WRP author:
Carolyn Matkowsky/Cara Marsi

Mimi Barbour said...

Thanks for stopping by Carolyn and for your kind words...always love to chat with another rose from the garden!