Interview with Jane, author of Barcelona Calling (FB author hop #2)

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Today I thought I would share a little bit more about myself and my journey writing Barcelona Calling.  This is an interview from blogger/photographer, (she has done all my professional photos...aren't they beautiful!) Carole Marie


Whatever made you decide to write a contemporary novel after your success with historical fiction?

Good question, something I asked myself when I was half-way through with revisions and wondering what on earth I'd gotten myself into! Part of the reason for writing it was because people I admire (a former editor, a publishing friend, my husband and my prayer partners) encouraged me to write something a little lighter but that still could reach readers' hearts as my historical fiction seems to. When one of those people urged my agent to get me to consider it, I decided to give it a try and Zondervan purchased the proposal. Part of my angst is that I don't want to let all those people down in addition to wanting to reach an audience that might not read historical novels. It's a risk. But I read once that even old rats when given new mazes to learn actually grew new brain cells. So I'm hoping this process grew me some new brain cells!

Do you think your faithful readers will follow you out of history into the urban world of Milwaukee, Chicago, Denver and Barcelona, Spain?

I hope they do! I think what Barcelona Calling has in common with my historical novels are characters that people can care about, characters who make bad choices and struggle through them, and characters who learn from their mistakes. Annie Shaw (of BC) isn't a real person but she has a lot of me in her...I guess each of my characters does, the part where the character makes a poor choice and has to deal with the consequences. I also hope the detail of the international sporting event involving 11,000 police and firemen will intrigue people in the way that historical details do. How many people know of that Olympic-like competition? It's worth discovering. All my novels weave landscape, relationships, spirituality and work into the story-line and this novel is no exception.

So have you been to Barcelona?

Yes, in 2003, to watch the World Police and Fire Games. It was grand with competitors from all over the world. We attended with a friend who is a retired policewoman, who also competed. We ate the chocolate, rode the subways, got pick-pocketed, visited Gaudi's amazing structures, toured underground Rome and had the best time while she competed on various golf courses near Barcelona. Miranda, Annie Shaw's alter ego in the book, had many of the experiences in Barcelona that I did. I would go back in a minute!

You mentioned in a recent newspaper article that writing a novel without the spine of history was a challenge. What did you mean by that?

All of my novels have been based on the lives of real people or historical events that I could research by interviewing descendants and reading documents, studying historian point of view, etc. While I did interview people for this book, some who had attended an Oprah show for example, I didn't have that solid background of what actually happened from which to launch the story. I obsessed about it a lot and then my editor suggested that I imagine my character as the descendant of one of my other characters from one of my historical novels! That was genius. I knew instantly who that would be and began then giving her some of that real DNA traveling through history to contemporary times.

This novel has a story within a story. Annie Shaw is writing a novel she's called Miranda of LaMancha but her editor has other ideas for the title and for the story itself. Is that true to how the publishing world works?

Carole Marie Photography
I've always had great editors, terrific editors! And it is also true that writers don't always get the title they want for a book. Marketing and sales have a say in that. We don't always get our say about the cover...which is why some people have gone to self-publishing where they have more control. It's a delicate balance between standing firm to one's artistic voice and listening to the wise voices of people who have been around a lot more books than I have and who have my best interest at heart. No one wants to publish a bad book with an awful cover or with a weird title that doesn't peak any one's interest. Personally, I wanted Oprah Doesn't Know My Name but when it came down to it, I liked this title because of its double meaning: Annie was seeking a calling and she had reason to listen to what and who was calling her back to Barcelona and to that inner voice calling her to be true to herself.

The book has several emails sent to Annie Shaw about how her other titles have affected the readers. Are those based on your own interactions with readers?

Yes, actually, most of them are. It's one of the hidden treasures of writing, to have that reader interaction, to know that even if the book gets a bad review, there is likely someone out there who took the book into their soul and found comfort or insight or courage there. The interaction Annie has with her children's Reading Ready group is also based on interactions I've had with children and books and how much they touch their lives. I chose memoirist, poet, writer May Sarton's comment in the front matter, about her wish to beat out the critics just once rather than watch her books meet their individual reader one at a time. I suspect each writer wishes that at some point; yet it is that one reader meeting writer within each book that grants some of the most satisfying moments of a writer's life.

Annie has written three books and is trying to get Miranda of LaMancha finalized for publication. Where did you come up with the other titles for Annie's books?

Sweet Charity's Rose just appealed to me and it was Annie's big success, her first novel, written when she was in love and getting married. Don't Kick Me was something my granddaughter said jokingly while commenting on a friend who says one thing but then behaves in the exact opposite way. She pooched her bottom out and said "Don't kick me!" The Long Bad Sentence was actually the name of a horse I placed a two dollar bet on in Oklahoma City. It sounded like a writer's horse. But it didn't do anything and later I told my husband it was probably a correctional facility horse and had nothing to do with writing. I had Annie set her romance novel between a prison guard and a nurse working there...not the most advantageous setting for a romance novel -- which was just one more example of some of Annie's poor choices. Miranda of LaMancha is just a hokey title or at least I wanted it to be even though I hoped her actually writing of the novel suggested that Annie had talent.

The novel Annie's working on in the book doesn't have an ending, does it? Will you write that ending sometime?

In the first paragraph of the book Annie is reading the ending to her friends. But it's true, changes get made along the way and the reader doesn't really know how Miranda and Jamie fare in the end of that inner novel. Maybe I'll write the last paragraph for readers on this blog sometime down the road when they've had a chance to read the book. Or better, I'll ask them to write the last paragraph and I'll pick the one I think Annie would have wanted.

Thanks for sharing time with us today. We'll look forward to reading Barcelona Calling!

And THANK YOU Carole for the opportunity to be featured on your blog.

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