- Guest Author -
Welcome to some insights into a Canadian author who is also an artist and jewellery designer. As an Author, Mary Barr writes juvenile, young adult and adult fiction. Writing in a variety of genres enables her stories to remain fresh, stimulating and challenging. As each plot unfolds she knows the feelings, needs, personality and fears of her characters, whether they are good or evil.
Welcome, Mary ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I slid into writing because it was something I loved. Fiction is world I can create myself there are no rules, no boundaries. My writing is limited only by my imagination. Children seldom have boundaries until they are old enough to be taught otherwise, so the inner child in me is alive and well. My journey began when I won my first literary award at the old age of seven. Since then it has remained my love over many years. It was a love that didn’t disappoint and over the years I have indulgenced in often when time has permitted me the luxury of doing so.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I guess I’ve always been a storyteller, because I am storyteller and not a writer. It’s a wonderful discovery knowing others delight in what you write and once I believed in myself and realised people wanted to read what I wrote then the journey began.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I am very much a planner. In fact I am giving a webinar this September on how to ‘get started and become a writer’ I love sharing my formula with others. I am a planned writer; characters, and storyline are set in my mind before I begin. I also create the characters in the book, so when I need a new character I go through my list and choose one that is already exists.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER? Both the storyline and the characters because one can’t exist without the other. I love seeing all the twists and turns of the story as it unfolds on paper and how the characters mould together and to the reader it is like they have always lived.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Firstly finding the time when I can create undisturbed, always a challenge. Secondly, marketing and keeping my publisher happy.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
Mainly a psychologist, but also a artist, jewellery designer and interior designer. Okay, so you have guessed I’m not young!
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT? Some of my unpublished manuscripts. I want to keep the best close until I am sure the worlds wants to see them.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I just completed a short children’s book (my youngest yet) and it’s currently at the illustrators because it will be 50% illustrations. I am half way through writing a chic flick, which I was asked to write late last year. It is called ‘How to Buy a Husband.’ This genre is slightly outside my comfort zone so a fun challenge.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I’m never short of inspiration, I see it everywhere. It simply bubbles out of me. The problem is time and getting it on paper.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I am a fiction writer and always will be.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS? When writing your first book, keep it simply, have one plot line. New writer often want to throw it all in every character and plot line they have ever know. But don’t, take it slow you probably have several books in that crowded mass of ideas.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
You use to like to write from the third person but I have also written from the first person, it is harder but takes you deeper into the book and the character you are suppose to be,
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
My desk and only there. I need all my stuff around me, all my research etc.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING? Knowing others will read it and hopefully love what I have created.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have several. Firstly my all-time favourite and the one I aspire to write like, but know I never will is, Roald Dahl. I have read all his adult books several times. I also relax with Matthew Reilly, Douglas Preston, Clancy Tucker and Clive Cluster. Yes, there are more.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
When people tell me they have read all my books and love them. The fact they take the time to tell me is a great compliment.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
An elderly cousin of mine said that my books were all alike. Later, I found out she had read the same one twice. But it hurt at the time because I try and never have two that are similar.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Of course, I write about places I have been, which are many. Some characters have the same traits as people who influenced me badly or who have created a lasting impression. I am definitely a student of life and I believe everyone has story, we have all travelled a journey whether or not we believe it has been worth travelling.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Many things. I play lots of sports, cycle, walk, go to the gym. I design ‘one off’ pieces of semi-precious jewellery. I build and renovate houses and I create colourful canvases using boiling wax.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION? Yes, always.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Beside a tranquil aqua ocean, sitting on the white sand under the warm sun watching the beauty all around me.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My mother. She was my greatest inspiration, my mentor and best friend. She believed in me unconditionally as did my father. They taught me I could be anything I wanted to be and I believed them.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Too many things to mention here. I believe our focus must change if we are to survive and achieve a happy, safe, peaceful quality of life.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Enjoy living in the moment.
26. WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Assuming I go to heaven, love your positive questions. Mostly Roald Dahl, his dry humour and superb writing, but then the man’s already in heaven isn’t he?
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
There’s tiny piece of me in them all. After all I write fiction so I am every character, as the plot requires.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
I have been fortunate, but it is tough industry indeed.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
Several but there are three that jump to mind. The first one is ‘The Grasshopper File’ loved the characters, the story line and the settings. It was sad when some of my antagonist had to die.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
Don’t ask me, I’m not there yet. My aspirations for success are huge. I’ll let you know should I ever achieve them.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I am mainly an adult fiction writer, but twelve years ago I ventured into writing children books. My first two books, won ‘Editors Choice’ and ‘Rising Star’ awards, so I guessed it was a sign for me to add children books to my genres. Each of my children books holds a positive moral for the young reader although often it has more meaning for the parents who are reading the bedtime story. I believe that if a child is searching for answers they will find them in my books, if not they will just enjoy a fun book with an exciting storyline.
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
To me a lot. I always have a clear vision of the cover that usually remains mine alone. As the cover artist seldom reads the books and does what they think you need. You only get three to choose from.
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I have many!
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Many university students now hold a degree in social media studies. I believe in the power of social media, but I also know there are professionals out there who do it so much better than we can. As a writer there are only so many hours in the day and as much as we like to think we can do it all, we seldom can. So stick to what you love, if your publisher requires you to do more marketing, get a professional or a publicist. If you want to do it yourself, good luck. There are many tools to help to you these days but while your marketing who is writing your book?
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
I have self-published many years ago and it has it merits and may be the way of the future. But the right publisher does it so much better. These days my books are published by a traditional publisher.
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Fun, methodical, creative, loyal and empathetic.
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Bad communicators. There is no place in today’s world for people who don’t communicate in a positive way and don’t reply to the written word. Also nasty people. I can never understand what they get out of hurting others.
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
I just finished Matthew Reilly’s ‘The Tournament’ a new writer but a truly great one.
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
Happy reading everyone!
41. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
I’m always pretty happy. Happiness lives inside, so outside influences can only make you happier. I have some things but won’t share at this stage.
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Great questions. Hope someone has the time to read this tome!! Thanks Clancy for including me in your show. Happy reading everyone.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Mary. So, the last book you read was written by a man who lives a few hours from me.
Nice of you to name one of your character's after me - Filly Tucker.
Keep going, Mary.