Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interview of Barbara Warren

If you love Avalon mysteries and you are charmed by Victorian homes, you’re going to really enjoy the latest release from Barbara Warren, Murder at the Painted Lady. You might be surprised at the origin of the term Painted Lady, but I’ll let Barbara explain that to you.  So without further ado, let’s get started with Avalon Authors Interview Wednesday and learn about the book, the author, and her cat.      

Me: Murder at the Painted Lady is your first book with Avalon. What compelled you to write the story?

Barbara:  I live close to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and enjoy wandering the streets in the residential area admiring the Victorian mansions and wondering what it would be like to own one. Since there's not much chance of that, I did the next best thing. I wrote a story about it. 

Me: What can you tell us about your protagonist, Allie McGregor?

Barbara:  Like me, Allie was fascinated by the Victorian houses. She is running from overly protective parents and a broken engagement. When she inherits a Victorian mansion she decides to open a bed and breakfast. Somehow she finds the courage to stay and fight, even though an unknown enemy is willing to go to desperate extremes to drive her out of her new house.
Me:  It seems as if there is a love interest, too.  A man by the name of Clay Carver.  What can you tell us about him?

Barbara:  Clay Carver has his own business, restoring antique houses. He's always wanted to restore the Ramsdale House, but Miss Eliza, the former owner wouldn't even let him inside. He's elated when Allie gives him the job of working on the house. Clay never intended to fall in love, but then he'd never met anyone like Allie either.

Me:  I would think a Victorian mansion with a name like The Painted Lady would become a character in and of itself in the book.  What
s the story there? 

Barbara:  I guess I should have chosen a different name. The term Painted Lady has caused some confusion. My husband thought it was a house of ill repute. My niece thought it had something to do with "The Face on the Barroom Floor." And another niece wondered if it would be all right for her eleven year old daughter to read. Actually a Painted Lady is the term for a brightly painted Victorian Mansion. They have one main basic color of paint with two different colors for trim. They come in all colors, and they're all beautiful.
Me:  So what’s the connection between the Painted lady and Allie’s quest to find the truth about how here uncle, Otis Ramsdale, died in prison? 

Barbara:  Otis and Eliza Ramsdale were Allie's uncle and aunt and they owned the house. When Otis died in prison Eliza lost all interest in everything. She left the house to Allie with a request that she learn the truth and clear Otis' name.
Me:  Trying to uncover an old secrets makes great suspense.  What is your favorite scene in the book?

Barbara:  Well, since I wrote it, I love every word of course. Don't we all?
Actually, since I'm a dog lover I like the scene where Allie and Clay rescue Taz the pup. And of course the last scene is a favorite. I like writing happy endings.
Me:  I’m an HEA kinda girl too!  So tell us how much research did you have to do before writing this book?

Barbara:  The research was fun. I went to Eureka Springs and walked around taking notes and I went on a tour through one of the houses. The Ramsdale House is based on an actual house I saw there and the concrete fawn was in a yard I passed. I bought a book on Victorian houses to learn about the different styles and that's about all the research I had to do.  

Me:  Did you have a carefully crafted plot before beginning to write or did the story tell itself once you started writing?

Barbara:  I write a short synopsis and then outline the first ten chapters. By then I have a feel for the story and I outline the rest. I usually know the end before I start.

Me:  How long did it take you to write Murder at the Painted Lady?

Barbara:  It took a couple of months to write it and another 3-4 months to rewrite and polish it. The rewriting is the part I like best. That's when I feel like I'm developing the story.
Me:  Are you working on another mystery? 

Barbara:  I'm working on what I hope will be a three book series set on Dauphin Island <<Alabama>>. I was lucky to spend a week there with my sister and brother-in-law and their family and I fell in love with the island.  

Me:  This is not your first published book.  The Gathering Storm was released by Jireh Publishing in 2006, also a mystery with a little bit of romance.  You
ve obviously found your niche.  What books or authors have influenced your chosen genre?

Barbara:  Well, Mary Higgins Clark's earlier books, Margaret Maron, Barbara Michaels, Erika Spindler, and a host of others.  I read what I like to write.

Me:  What
s your writing schedule like?  Do you write every day?  Or only when the muses hit?

Barbara:  I write when I can find the time, trying to write a little every day. sometimes I end up writing at night while my husband watches TV. Writing is like everything else, the more we write the more we grow. Besides I get cranky when I don't write.
Me:  Youre not only a writer, but a successful freelance editor through your own business, Blue Mountain Editorial Service.  Do you prefer one side of the business over the other?

Barbara:  I prefer writing. I love living in my dream worlds. But I also enjoy feeling I'm helping other writers and I've met a lot of delightful people through my editing.
Me:  What do you do when youre not playing with words, either your own or others?

Barbara:  I enjoy working outside in my flowerbeds. My husband isn't well, so I take care of him, and since we live on a farm I like to go for walks in the woods with Hoss, our red merle Australian shepherd pup.
Me:  You live and work from the Ozark Mountains.  You must have some spectacular views.  What is your favorite time of year there?

Barbara:  I like them all, but I particularly love the springtime. Our hills are dotted with the white blossoms of dogwood and the deep pink of redbud. Jonquils are blooming and the trees are flaunting new leaves in shades of green never found in a paint box. It's so beautiful I'm almost overwhelmed.
Me:  According to your website,

Barbara:  My office chair is an old Queen Anne, very comfortable. It's also Rosicat's favorite chair. When she thinks I've worked long enough, she jumps up on the desk, sits in front of my monitor, looks sternly at me, and reaches out one paw in a very threatening manner, as if she's telling me she's waited long enough and I need to get out of her chair. She's also been known to catch a mouse and turn it loose under my feet. Yes, she definitely runs the office.  

Me:  I imagine Rosicat is running you out of “her chair” right now, so we’ll let her reclaim her space and let you get back to writing and editing and roaming the Ozark Mountains.  Thanks so much for your time, and please stop back and “chat” again soon. 


Carolyn Brown said...

Great interview (I'm waving from the next state over...Oklahoma!)I get real cranky when I don't write every day, too! Liked your comment about the Painted Lady being a brothel. In Trouble in Paradise, the Paradise really was an old brothel.

Sandy Cody said...

Hi Barbara, love the Ozarks. I grew up not too far from there (St. Louis area) but now live in PA. There are some great Painted Ladies in this area too-especially in Cape May, NJ. You can't look at those houses and not wonder what secrets they hold. Great job on the interview, Jayne.

Beate Boeker said...

What a great interview! I loved to hear about the painted lady and Rosicat - and I can totally relate to that cranky feeling when not writing! Thank you, too, Jayne, for taking the time to create another wonderful interview.

Barbara Warren said...

Hi, y'all. I can't post to the group, but I'm hoping this goes through. I feel like I know you all because I can read your posts. It's great to hear from you and I appreciate the excellent review. I see you can relate to that cranky feeling that comes from not writing. We're writers and we have a story to tell. Don't get in our way. :-)

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

Hi, Barbara.
I grew up with Painted Ladies in San Francisco but I never knew the term referred to Victorian houses! There are thousands of them in my city and every one just as beautiful.
I don't get cranky when I don't write. I get downright desperate. To paraphrase Anne Rice, I feel like less of a creature of the black lagoon when I'm writing.
Congratulations on your publication, Barbara.