Today we kick of women’s fiction week with bestselling author Barbara Freethy. Today’s interview is a joint effort from reviewers Julie and JoAnne. And so, please help me welcome Barbara to Romancing the Book!
Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 38 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara turned to Indie publishing in 2011 and has sold over 4.3 million ebooks! Seventeen of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists.
Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, mystery and romance, Barbara enjoys writing about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary adventures. She is currently writing a connected family series, The Callaways, which includes: ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS (#1), SO THIS IS LOVE (#2), FALLING FOR A STRANGER (#3) BETWEEN NOW AND FOREVER (#4) ALL A HEART NEEDS (#5) and THAT SUMMER NIGHT (#6). There will be at least eight books in the Callaway series, and if you love series with romance, suspense and a little adventure, you’ll love the Callaways.
For a complete listing of books, as well as excerpts and contests, and to connect with Barbara:
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Barbara: My newest release is THAT SUMMER NIGHT, which is the sixth book in my family series called The Callaways. The Callaways are a blended family. Jack Callaway had four boys and Lynda Kane had two girls and together they married and had twins. In the series each sibling finds love, mystery and adventure in their own standalone book, often where they least expect it! I love writing the different dynamics between the siblings and their parents. Drawn to different careers and family pressures, the Callaways always find their way back home, sometimes with a swift kick in the pants from their wiser younger sister, or their stubborn and determined older brother.
Here’s a short excerpt from chapter 1 of THAT SUMMER NIGHT:
Shayla Callaway woke up in a sweat, her heart racing, her mind spinning with horrible and disturbing images. It took her a moment to remember that she wasn’t in a remote village in northern Colombia, but in the San Francisco apartment she shared with another medical resident. She’d been home for five days, but she had yet to fully process what had happened.
A persistent ring broke through the haze of her nightmare. She hoped it wasn’t the hospital, asking her to come in and cover a shift. She wasn’t ready to go back to work yet. Her hands needed to stop shaking first. She had two weeks before her next rotation started, and she hoped by then she’d be ready to return to the career she’d been pursuing for the past ten years.
But there was no familiar hospital number flashing across her phone, just the word blocked. Adrenaline ran through her already hyperaware body. She drew in a breath and told herself there was nothing to be afraid of. Grabbing the phone, she uttered a breathless, “Hello?”
The male voice crackling on the other end of the line belonged to Dr. Robert Becker, her friend, her mentor, and the brilliant doctor who had been missing since a trio of armed gunmen had broken into the Colombian clinic where they’d been working and killed three people, leaving a trail of injuries and trauma behind.
Robert had not been one of the dead or the injured; he’d been unaccounted for—until now.
Her hand tightened around the phone. “Robert? Are you all right? Where are you?”
“I’m in trouble, Shayla. I need your help.”
“Of course. What can I do?”
“I need you to go to my office and get the gift you gave me for my last birthday. You remember what that was, don’t you?”
Her brows knit together at the unexpected request. “You mean—”
“Don’t say it out loud,” Robert said quickly. “I don’t know who’s listening.”
“What are you talking about? Who would be listening?”
“I can’t explain right now. I need you to get the present and give it to my brother, Reid. Ask him to bring it to me on Sunday.”
“Your brother?” she asked, even more confused. “Isn’t he in the Army somewhere?”
“He’s out now. He’s living in San Francisco, and he might just be my only hope of getting out of this alive.”
A shiver ran down her spine at his ominous words. “Why don’t I talk to the police, to my brother-in-law, Max? He can help you with whatever trouble you’re in.”
“This is bigger than the local cops. You need to find Reid and tell him to meet me. Please, Shayla, you’re the only one I can trust.”
“All right,” she said, hearing the agitation in his voice. “Where do you want him to go?”
Robert hesitated. “I want you to tell him something, Shayla, and you have to say it exactly this way. Are you ready?”
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. Say it.”
“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. What does that mean?”
“My brother will know. Tell him Sunday afternoon, three o’clock.”
“Sunday is three days from now.”
“I’m not sure how long it will take me to get there or for you to convince my brother to help me.” He paused. “Has anyone spoken to you since you got back, anyone from the State Department, the FBI or any other agency?”
“Yes, I’ve been interviewed by both agencies, and there have been a lot of questions about you. I was afraid you were dead, Robert. Why has it taken you so long to get in touch?”
“I had to be careful. I’ll explain everything when this is over.”
“I thought it was over.”
“I wish it was. I have to go, Shayla.”
“Wait, where am I going to find your brother? Do you have his number?”
“No, but his best friend, Jared Stone, owns the Cadillac Lounge. He’ll know where to find Reid. Don’t tell anyone about this call but Reid. And don’t remove the present from my office if anyone else is around. It needs to be done secretly. This is very important Shayla. You’re the only one I can trust.”
The connection broke just as she got the last word out. She set her phone down on the bed and glanced at the clock. It was almost eight a.m., and early morning light filtered into the room. At least, the sun was coming up. She didn’t have to think about trying to force herself to go back to sleep for another few hours.
Julie: Do you have any “author superstitions” ? If so what are they.
Barbara: I don’t really have any superstitions when it comes to writing. I’ve never had to have the perfect environment in which to write which is great since I’ve had to write through toddler and teenage years, at coffee shops, and in the parking lots of baseball fields. Writing is my job and the most creative thing I get to do every day so I try to embrace it even when the story isn’t coming quickly into my head. When I’m stuck, I do find that taking a long hot shower somehow frees the blockage in my mind. It that doesn’t work, a brisk walk or a change of scenery sometimes helps.
Julie: Do you believe in love at first sight?
Barbara: I believe you can have an instant bond with someone, a moment where you feel something deep inside. You’re excited and nervous and maybe even scared all at the same time. It’s an attraction that’s both physical and emotional, and love grows out of that first connection. But not all attraction turns to love. I think the real love comes when you get to know someone’s heart and soul, when you really share your lives, your humor, your interests and your opinions. Sometimes that love comes fast and other times it comes slowly, but that period of falling in love is always a fun and sometimes emotional story to tell.
JoAnne: What process do you use to keep all the action, activities, characters in a series straight?
Barbara: I start with a series bible. With the Callaways, I began with a family tree and character sketches of each of the main players. Then I wrote outlines for each book and tried to bullet continuing events and characters that cross over between stories. It can be difficult to keep everything straight, so I’m constantly going back and adding things to the master notebook. I also have great proofreaders who let me know if I’ve said something already or if I’m not being consistent with other stories in the series.
JoAnne: How does writing a book that’s part of a series or a connected book different from writing a stand alone?
Barbara: While the Callaway Series has its world of characters, each of the books in the series can be read as a stand-alone. Each book is a complete story, but readers of the series will get to see familiar characters come in and out of the books, and there are some story threads that are woven throughout the series. I think readers love getting involved in a world that they can go back to time and time again. They want to see their favorite characters get married, have children, and live their lives. Keeping all the threads going throughout a series of books can be a challenge but it’s worth it in the end. That’s not to say that some books can’t be told as a standalone novel. I’ve written many standalone books that are as rich and developed as the series books. Sometimes they’re a little longer as I’m telling all the subplots in one book.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Barbara: I’m working on #7 in the Callaway Series WHEN SHADOWS FALL, which will be out in September of 2014. I’m also starting to translate many of my books into French, German and Spanish and I’m working on making sure all the books are also available in audiobook format.