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Author interview - Anne Barwell

June 29th, 2011 (10:30 am)

It's my absolute pleasure to have Anne Barwell, author of Cat's Quill as my guest today, answering my daft questions.

What inspired you to start writing?
I've always made up stories for as long as I remember. When I was in primary school I began writing what I realize now was fanfic but didn't have a name to put to it at the time. In 2000 I got my first computer and found the internet. A google search for one of my favourite series led me to fanfic and I thought "I could do that". I also found a lack of the kinds of stories I wanted to read with the characters I wanted to read about so I wrote them.

Do you have another job (paid or otherwise) apart from being an author? If so, how do you juggle your time?

I work in a library – at the moment it's part time in the evenings and weekends - but we're undergoing some restructuring so I'm hoping to pick up more hours soon. I also do a bit of relief teaching in a local primary school. I write when I can and try to do a bit each day although some days when RL gets very busy, it doesn't happen. I used to aim for so much a day but found with life the way it is that isn't very feasible so shifted my focus to weekly goals. That's working a lot better.

What does it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest? Where did the inspiration for ‘Cat’s Quill’ arise?
I'm still at the 'wow this is actually a real book' stage. It makes me happy to finally be able to say that I'm a published author as it's been a dream I've had for a long time. At that same time though it's scary and there's that fear that maybe no one will like it. Someone said that it's like giving birth to a baby and as a mother I agree with that one – there are a lot of parallels between the two.

I blame ‘Cat's Quill ‘on the song 'Iris' by the Goo Goo Dolls. It inspired the idea of someone who couldn't say who he was and had to hide it for whatever reason – that's Cathal – but then it grew to the point where it worked on a lot of different levels. When I got the idea for this story years ago, I couldn't sleep until I scribbled it down in note form at 2am in the morning. Needless to say the notes begin the same way as the finished story but a chapter or so in, it changes direction quite a lot. I'm beginning to think that my original notes are what happened in Tomas's book – the one he shared with Cathal in ‘Cat's Quill’ and needs to finish in the sequel.

Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?
Character driven. I like to have a decent plot in there too, but often the characters do something that sends it in another direction. My characters often develop at tangents; I've learnt from experience that it doesn't pay to argue with them as I usually lose. I tried it a couple of times and stared at a blank page until I let them go in the direction they wanted. I'm so owned.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?
I had to really think about this question. Michel from ‘Shadowboxing’ (the novel I'm working on at the moment). He's very capable and keeps his cool in a tight situation and has the experience he gained in the French Resistance, although either Matt or Ken (from the same novel) would be handy to have on my side too. Barring them, Christian from ‘Cat's Quill’. He's also a capable man to have around in a fight, and there is the added advantage that he wouldn't be able to resist the smart-arse commentary along the way.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?
I have a very long list of what I want to write, so having no time constraints and a guarantee of publication would be just wonderful. Apart from the sequels to what I've written, I do have one I want to write which is set in locally in Wellington. It's a m/m gothic/time travel/psi powers story which is going to eventually be a part of an ongoing series. The characters are really pushing for it but I've told them they have to wait for the sequel to ‘Cat's Quill’ first.

Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?
‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert. I started reading this years ago, only got a few chapters in and lost interest. I keep thinking I should try it again sometime though.

What’s your favourite gay romance/other genre book? And why?
I can't pin it down to just one book/series. I'm a big fan of Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series. A friend hooked me onto them a few years ago and I'm hanging out for the next one. I also love your Cambridge Fellows books and am very pleased that there are going to be more of those. Susanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series is another one that I drop what I'm doing and read. I enjoyed her recent standalone book ‘Infamous’ too.

One of the reasons these books appeal is the characters. When I read them I feel like I'm catching up with old friends. They're also well plotted and have a good mix of angst and romance. I'm a sucker for well written hurt/comfort.

What's your next project?
I've recently finished a novel called ‘Shadowboxing’ which is a m/m drama set in Berlin in 1943. The main character is a scientist working on the German atomic bomb project. After a meeting with an old friend makes him doubt the morals of the project he's working on, he and an undercover Resistance agent end up on the run from the SS. In the meantime the joint Allied OSS/SOE team sent in to retrieve the project plans have their own problems when the mission goes completely pearshaped. I'm editing and going over the finer points with beta readers so hoping to have it ready for submission in a few weeks. The research required for this one has driven me crazy but I've learnt so much. I like the mix of drama and romance in it, and of course it has a good amount of hurt/comfort. I'm still questioning my sanity though as it's the first book of three. I tend to write in series.

After ‘Shadowboxing’ I'm writing the sequel to ‘Cat's Quill’ which has a working title of ‘Magic's Muse’. There are a few loose ends to tie up still after ‘Cat's Quill’ and this will address a few of them, although not all, as this is a three book series.

You can find Anne here: anne_barwell, Facebook and Goodreads.


Posted by: anne_barwell (anne_barwell)
Posted at: June 29th, 2011 09:50 am (UTC)

Thank you so much for having me :)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: June 29th, 2011 09:52 am (UTC)

My pleasure. Great answers.

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