Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome to Julia Rachel Barrett's guest blog!

Welcome Ms. Barrett to Love Romances and More, thank you for joining us.

Did you always want to become a writer?

Yes, always. I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a little kid. I started out writing poetry and had a few poems published in literary journals by the time I was fifteen, and poetry will always be my first love. I majored in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa.

What is the most, and the least interesting fact about writing?

Most interesting? Bringing to life people and stories that begin in your head or in your dreams – watching characters flesh out and find their way – that is the most interesting thing about writing. The least interesting? Sitting still to do it! I am not a sitter!

How did you celebrate your first release? What was it like to see your book in a bookstore? Do you have a special ritual for celebrating a book release?

I am so superstitious! I don’t celebrate any release. Instead, I just feel butterflies in the pit of my stomach because I never know how my work will be received. There’s a lot of myself in every story I write and I’m a bit of a worrier. As far as a ritual goes...I wish I had a ritual! Maybe I’ll start lighting incense or burning scented candles!

How did your family react to fact that you write romance novels? Have your family read your book?

My husband is very supportive and he reads everything I write. He came up with the title of my recent release, Captured. My kids know what I write and they are willing to read the first chapter or so and give me their take on the characters, but that’s about it. I don’t blame them. Nobody wants to put parents and the word ‘sex’ in the same sentence. When I’m stuck on a word, my son, who is the vocabulary king, always helps out. The rest of my family knows what I write and they are very supportive, but they won’t read any of my books.

Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so, who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?

Oh heck yeah! I have literally been reading since I was eighteen months old. I’m not joking. Typically you can find me reading two to three books at a time, although lately I’m spending so much time writing that I’ve cut it down to one book at a time. I tend to stick with nonfiction these days as I’ve found popular fiction – not romance – to be somewhat disappointing in recent years. I avoid reading romance novels when I’m writing to avoid being derivative. I’m a huge science fiction/fantasy fan. The book Dune, by Frank Herbert, influenced me immeasurably, not only in my writing but in my life. I’m a big Jack Kerouac fan. I love the weird and wonderful William Burroughs, Ralph Ellison, Allen Ginsberg. I’m a big Anne McCaffrey fan, love me some Margaret Atwood, George R. R. Martin, Tad Williams, Bernard Cornwall, Cormac McCarthy. I loved The Time Traveller’s Wife, Cloudsplitter, the new translation of Beowulf. I’m a huge Sharon Kay Penman fan and I have all her books. Plus I’m a big history buff - give me a big book about Tudor England and I’m in heaven!

Do you feel each of your characters live with you as you write? Do their lives sometimes take over a part of your life? Can you name an example? Do you have living role models for your characters?

Yes and no. When I’m really involved in the writing of a book, the characters keep me up at night. I won’t get into muses or anything like that, but I actually feel as if they tell me their story and I simply record it. A lot of what happens to my heroines has happened to me, so you will find pieces of my life in every book I write. My most recent book, Captured, is science fiction, however, the book began in real life. It’s sort of my dream version of what happened to me when I lost an hour of my life while collecting eggs on a chicken farm.

Where do you get the inspirations for your books?

Occasionally, like happened with Captured, an entire story will come to me in a dream. Usually my inspiration is real life. I’ve lived many places and done many things and I use all those places and people I’ve met as templates for my work.

Do you find it difficult at times to write love scenes?

No. I actually don’t. Writing the love scenes for some characters is more fun than for others. For instance, I had a blast writing the love scenes for Beauty and the Feast, my contemporary romance coming out in March with Resplendence. My two main characters, Eva and Gabe are such fun characters...and so in lust.

Do you have a problem with deadlines and have you ever suffered a writers block?

Yes, right now. My holidays were very stressful, lots of personal stuff going on and I have some deadlines coming up. I’ll meet the deadlines, but I find myself procrastinating, trying to get a feel for my main characters. I spent the past two years writing up a storm. I have five releases this year and two more scheduled for 2011. In some ways, I guess my brain is telling me I need some down time.

Do you prefer stand-alone books or series (As a reader or a writer) ?

I like both, provided the series is good. I know readers very often want a series because they enjoy following their favourite characters, and I’ve already had readers asking me about writing a sequel for Captured. I’m not sure what I’ll do. With Captured, I kind of want to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. On the other hand, I have a four-book futuristic series coming out with Resplendence, Daughters of Persephone, and I knew when I began the first book that I would absolutely have to write three more installments.

If you could change places with one character from your book, who would it be and why?

Wow, what an interesting question! I don’t know. Maybe Eva in Beauty and the Feast because like me, she is really into food and cooking and Gabe is hot hot hot...oh wait...they are sort of like my husband and me...

What is your favorite book from the books that you have written so far? Who are your favorite hero and heroine, and why?

I’ll give you a few answers – my husband’s favorite book of all is Anytime Darlin’, my first romance/suspense. It will be re-released with Resplendence in 2011. He loves that book. Devlin and Jake, the two main characters, are amazing, tough, strong, loving and resilient people, and there’s a bit of my husband’s and my own story in there. I love Cara, and her story in Cara – the work of romance/suspense is semi-autobiographical so I’m quite attached to her, and emotional about her very difficult and painful story. But my most fun character is Mari. She’s just been kidnapped and taken to another planet and she still manages to retain her sense of humor, and as my husband says, all my characters contain part of me, but if you get to know Mari, you get to know me. She is me.

Would you like to give another genre a try?

Actually I just branched out this year into science fiction and futuristic romance. I also moved from romance/suspense to contemporary.

Which book was the hardest to write and which the easiest?

The hardest to write was Cara, because it hit so close to home and writing it was exhausting and cathartic. The story is about a young woman who is sexually abused and has to find the strength to get beyond the trauma. The easiest was Beauty and the Feast. It’s all about food and fun and I included Eva’s recipes.

If you could choose of your books for a movie, which one would it be and who would you as the cast?

Yiiii! I guess either Anytime Darlin’ or Captured. Both stories are pretty exciting, pretty visual. Oh my gosh, as far as casting??? I have my ideas but it’s like asking who would you cast for Jamie in Outlander – who can possibly fill Jamie’s sexy shoes?

If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?

This is a difficult question because I have a long list of people I’d like to visit. Anne Boleyn would top the list, I guess. She’s such a lonely, misunderstood figure and she was such a brilliant woman – born in the wrong time. I’d love to meet her daughter, Elizabeth – Elizabeth, in my opinion, was Anne’s revenge. I wouldn’t mind spending some time in Ancient Egypt, or hanging out in Jerusalem during the first centuries B.C.E. and A.D. because there was so much upheaval and events occurred that changed the world.

Do you listen to music while you are writing and if so what music is it?

No. Music is too big a distraction. I do like noise in the background and sometimes I write better if I leave my house and go to a coffee shop. I try to do that a couple times a week. If I’m home, there is always something that needs to be done!

Big congrats to your latest release, can you please tell us something about the book?

Thank you! I’ll give you the blurb, it kind of says everything!
Mari never expects to find herself caged in a cargo hold on a spaceship. She learns from her captors she's headed to the meat market. When they try to return her to stasis, she resists. The male in charge, Ekkatt, allows her to remain awake. Mari realizes her survival depends upon connecting with Ekkatt. She must make him see her as a sentient being or she will end up dinner.
Ekkatt has never spoken to any human. Humans are beasts. They are valued for one thing, the money they bring at auction. The Attun are vegetarians, but other species prize human flesh and Ekkatt makes good money trapping. Then the female with red hair awakens. She speaks to him and forces him to admit she has a name. Mari throws Ekkatt's entire life into question, the biggest question...can he watch her sold to the highest bidder?

Are you working on anything right now, and can you tell us a teaser about these projects?

I’m working on the fourth book of a futuristic sci fi series, The Daughters of Persephone. Thousands of years in the future, when mankind has exhausted its home planet, a small band of brave souls follow their empress and set out for another solar system. The Daughters of Persephone follows the descendants of that original empress and her colonists. The four book series will be released next July and August.


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Danny, thanks for having me! Julia

Paris said...

Great interview ladies!

Julia, your books sound so intriguing and Beauty and the Feast sounds delicious!

Tina Donahue said...

Great interview, Julia - love your reading material! Hope you have a blast today.

Bronwyn Green said...

Great interview! I love Margaret Atwood, too. But I have to admit I was really disappointed when I met Ginsberg (many, many years ago). I'd always admired his work, but interacting with him kinda ruined it for me. :( I think sometimes it's probably best not to meet your people whose work you like.

Fran Lee said...

You know I love all your books...this one was spectacular!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Bron - I know exactly what you mean about Ginsberg - you are better off not knowing! He's not quite what you expect.