Monday, 4 August 2014

Meet A Writer Monday presents...

...Barbara Winkes

1. Tell me about your book Spring Fever and where you got your inspiration for it?

It’s the third book in my lesbian romance series about Callie and Rebecca, who find each other in a small town under difficult circumstances. The first two books, Autumn Leaves and Winter Storm were about how they met, fell for each other and started a relationship that met with many obstacles. In Spring Fever, a lot has changed for them. They have come to terms with the situation, but they are much stronger and more confident in their love--and they have to be. After the first two books, I felt it was necessary to make a strong statement about the direction they are going.

2. Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Hate is too strong a word--I think. I know once I finish a first draft, I have to leave it alone for a bit, before I can go back inside, edit and clean it up. Not everything I’ve written will be submitted or published. I always need some distance before I can make that kind of judgment.

3. If you were the ruler of the world, what laws would you make?

I could make all the laws, everywhere? Wow. I’d do the best I could to end patriarchy. I think for people to understand the roots of gender inequality and undoing it would take care of most problems the world is struggling with.

4. What was your favourite subject at school?

Literature, languages, and, surprisingly religious education! In the last year, I had a teacher who introduced us to feminist theology which was truly eye-opening. It sparked my interest in psychology and feminist theory in general.

5. If you could learn one random skill, what would you learn?

Paint, play the piano, dance. You see, I can never pick just one! I tried a bit of drawing which, everyone assured me you can learn with enough practice. I always go back to writing more instead--though I should totally try something else on the side!

6. Do you watch horror movies on or from behind the couch?

Frankly, I’m not a horror fan, though I love contemporary thrillers (without the paranormal). Those, I have sometimes watched between my fingers. The Call with Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin was a good example. I love stories about women who achieve the near impossible and get back at the bad guy. Taking Lives with Angelina Jolie is another example. I was all by myself in the movie theater and terrified--but I’m really into that type of character, so I get through it. If Angie Harmon played in a horror movie, I might watch. Maybe.

7. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

This is your dream, give it all you got!  Find out what works best for you, in terms of writing environment, shaping your story, getting it ready for publication and the type of publishing (traditional, indie, or hybrid). Listen, learn, read and write a lot. Write more. It’s tempting to watch the Amazon numbers, especially when your book is newly out and climbing, but meanwhile, you have to write the next one.

8. How did you choose your genre?

As a reader, I’ve always loved mysteries and thrillers with female main characters, so that’s one part. When it comes to romance, there are many books for lesbian readers these days, but the movie section is still lacking the big bold Hollywood happy endings--when I write love stories, I write the kind I would love to see on TV or at the movies.

9. What’s next for you?

After Spring Fever, there’ll be three more publications with Eternal Press that are already under contract: The Interpretation of Love and the Truth (a romance) Amber Alert (a mystery featuring a straight detective for a change) and Open Spaces (an erotic romance. I’m blushing already). Of course, there’s the 4th and last book featuring Callie and Rebecca. It’s called Summer Wine, and I plan to submit it this summer.
10. Why did you feel you had to tell this story?

I wanted to explore the characters’ varying abilities to adapt to change, understand the world, and how it influences their relationships. Rebecca, for example, is a kind and genuine person to begin with, but she had formed some preconceived notions she wasn’t aware of, until she was confronted with prejudice against her. When I started writing Autumn Leaves, there were only a handful of states that had equal marriage, now ban after ban is struck down in court. It’s an exciting time, history in the making, and more people are aware of that.

11. What sort of environment do you write in? (e.g. quiet room, a cupboard with headphones on, in a death match with the cat for control of the keyboard)

I enjoy the privilege of my own office, which is honestly the best writing environment ever. I have done some writing in cafés before, and the noise doesn’t bother me, but now that I have the space, the farthest I go away from my desk to work is the deck, in the summer. Sometimes, the headphones come into play, when I find songs that fit particular stories very well. For Spring Fever, I listened a lot to Kelly Clarkson’s A Moment Like This.

12. What was the point you realised that being an author was no longer a dream but a reality?

I don’t think there was just one point. Reading the first accepted-for-publication email, or signing the first contract, felt pretty unreal. I guess when I held the paperback in my hands for the first time, it was starting to sink in. It’s still amazing, and hearing from readers is the best!

13. Which book do you wish you’d written?

Just one? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and First To Die by James Patterson. The firmer is a stern warning about the dangers of patriarchy. In some places of the world, we’re already there, or heading there--this should be required reading. Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series, on the other hand, is fact-paced entertainment, but it’s also a beautiful concept of women working together and being friends, and getting ahead that way.

14. How do you handle working with an editor without letting pride get in the way?

I think communication is key. If something is not clear to me, I ask. I trust in their expertise, and my instincts, and usually that works well. I have been writing fan-- and original fiction for years before getting published, so the concept of someone else editing my work wasn’t new to me. I enjoy the process of polishing the story and making it the best possible together.

15. How do you deal with brilliant ideas that pop up while you’re writing something else?

Brilliant is in the eye of the beholder. That depends on deadlines, how far into the story I am, various factors. I take notes of the story I “technically” can’t write yet, and in my experience, it comes back to me if it’s meant to be written. I had the idea for The Interpretation of Love and the Truth a year before I actually wrote it. I had my notes, and when the times was right, the characters and their story came back to me.

Callie has a hard decision to make when her ex Nicole tries to blackmail her with an old secret. The timing couldn’t be worse as Maggie still suffers from nightmares that appear to be related to previous traumatic events.
Andy, a new resident, is eager to make friends and promote the prejudice Callie and Rebecca have grown tired of. They have learned that trust is the most important thing in a relationship, and when you have it, hate can’t touch you.


This was the perfect moment to stage her getaway. Callie was all alone in the house—no curious little girl around to ask uncomfortable questions. Rebecca would be gone for at least another hour, more than enough time to get this over with. It was the second time in the past couple of years that she was about to run because of Nicole. Like the last time, Callie threw clothes into a suitcase without care, her vision impaired by tears.
Like the last time, the outcome was unsure. She did some research, found a company Facebook page and an address. That was the easy part. Callie could only imagine what her hasty flight would look like to Rebecca, and she hated doing this to her. She didn’t think there was an alternative, not with Nicole’s regular messages over the past few days, with vague but unmistakable subtext. In fact, if there were, she would have found it when lately she obsessed about the subject every minute of the day. Rebecca deserved better, but Callie couldn’t do better until she’d answered the question that haunted her.
Nicole would gladly take the credit for how she’d perfected the art of repressing memories. The truth was, the events leading to the moment Callie couldn’t ignore the past any longer, were piling up.
It wasn’t just Nicole. Betty’s son was bullied by the same nightmare teens who had harassed Callie, and Rebecca’s family. They’d committed even worse crimes, for which they’d gone to prison.
Callie wished she could lock away the voice that insisted she’d failed a friend when she needed her most. There was nowhere left to hide—that Nicole had taken care of.
How’s Rebecca doing? she’d asked in her last text message. The question wasn’t as innocent as it sounded. In fact, it was meant to be a reminder. Nicole was back in New York, but there was no doubt she could do a lot of damage, even from afar, if Callie didn’t act first. The truth was bad enough—knowing Nicole, she would spice it up with a few lies.
Rebecca was in town, Maggie in school when Callie booked the plane ticket, having a crying fit after she’d made the payment with her credit card.
The night before, Maggie had one of those bad dreams, the memory burdening Callie’s conscience even more. She knew she was leaving them in the middle of a crisis, which was a terrible thing to do to someone you loved.
However, when they’d last met, Nicole said Rebecca would leave her first if she knew.
When Nicole announced bad things to happen, she was usually right.

About Barbara

A psychologist/trauma counselor by training, Barbara Winkes left her native Germany to live with her wife in Québec City. Telling stories has always been her passion. She loves to write suspense and romance with female protagonists who try to solve the puzzle of their love life, a murder case, or sometimes, both.

It’s on August 10th and public, hope to see you there!

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