Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Barbara G. Tarn Author of Body Switches, Chronicles of the Varian Empire Vol.1, 2, 3, Kilig the Sword, Male Lovers of Silvery Earth, Rajveer the Vampire, Star Minds, and several others.
Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest author Barbara G. Tarn. Barbara is also sometimes an artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller. Her stories comprise shorts, novels and graphic novels. Her novella The Hooded Man has received an Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future contest. Her novels include Body Switches, Chronicles of the Varian Empire Vol.1, 2, 3, Kilig the Sword, Male Lovers of Silvery Earth, Rajveer the Vampire, Star Minds, and several others.
Norm: Good day Barbara and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get started in writing and what keeps you going?
Barbara: I'm an introvert and being uprooted at age 13 made me close up in a dream world and write. I lived eight years abroad and when I came back to my hometown, it was a disaster. I wrote because I preferred to imagine living in a fantasy world than the real world. Now, almost forty years later, I still have that wild imagination and prefer imagine fantasy worlds than living in this one! In fact I keep telling everyone that I'm married to Mr Writing...
Norm: What do you think most characterizes your writing and what is the most difficult part of writing your books?
Barbara: I have a dry, journalistic prose because my influences were more from the entertainment industry than literature. I grew up reading lots of comic books and watching lots of TV, so for me writing is putting to paper the "movies" in my head. The most difficult part is usually starting, but once I'm in the story, everything goes smoothly.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Babara: First, let me tell you that for twenty-five years I just wrote, totally unaware of rules and other stuff. Then I started going to creative writing courses, dropped the omniscient narrator (a.k.a. head hopping), learned points of view. The most useful books were written by working writers – How to write science fiction and fantasy by Orson Scott Card, On Writing by Stephen King – while I didn't find very useful all those other books of rules written by editors or English teachers who had no idea of the actual creative process. Now I'm following online workshops by professional writers only to further improve my craft.
Norm: How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Barbara: I started publishing as ebook only! And then I bought my first Kindle, back in 2011... I still prefer printed books for comics, art books and non-fiction, but novels I happily read on my e-reader. My bookshelves are full (and I still have a pile of printed book to read, not to mention the ones on my Kindle)! Now I'm slowly putting the longer works into print (novels or anthologies), since I don't like thin books.
As for the alternative vs. conventional... I ended up an indie author so I'd have the freedom the write the stories I wanted, the length I wanted, without having to worry about meeting a certain wordcount or other obscure publisher's expectations. And I keep control of my stories.
Norm: What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
Barbara: I think it's still going strong. Shifting, but it's a healthy market. I might feel a little queasy from time to time, but I'm here to stay, both as a reader and a writer.
Norm: What makes your books stand out from the crowd?
Barbara: Adult unconventional fantasy, lots (but not always) of LGBT characters, and the point of view of an ESL writer – my background is probably different from all the English natives, being Italian but having grown up in French-speaking countries (which means English is actually the third language
I learned, although I now speak it better than French) – who also loves exploring other cultures. My vampire historical is set in 14th century India...
Norm: What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
Barbara: I have a Facebook account and a Goodreads account. And a blog that just turned 6 years old (which, I believe, is quite old for a blog, since many of the blogs that started with me are long dead). I announce a new release on the blog and then maybe do a character interview (not always). Then I go back to writing the next book – that's the best marketing tip I ever heard and it's the only one I like!
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Barbara: Yes, you can keep creating. Yes, you are good enough. Yes, your voice and vision matter enough to share. Don't polish to death, write with the creative side of your brain. Release your baby and let the readers decide. Nobody will blacklist you if you are not good. And the next book will be better. So keep writing new stories and release them. But mostly, do it because it's fun and to entertain yourself. Happy writing!
Norm: Could you tell us a little about your most recent novel? As a follow up, what motivated you to write the novel and how did you go about creating the principal characters?
Barbara: The most recent is actually part of my Silvery Earth's world, so I'll go with the previous one, Rajveer the Vampire, that came out November 1st and is the first of a series of standalone vampire novels. But it's not the usual "paranormal romance" – I'm afraid there is no romance in this story. I wanted to create different vampires for different parts of the world and since I have this obsession with Bollywood and India, the first had to be an Indian vampire. Except he's turned by western vampires (a druid who travels with an Anglo-Norman lady), so he's different from the other local vampires.
Rajveer is a proud Rajput warrior and it was great fun to study the history of medieval India and watch him come alive, with his wives, friends and foes. I received great help fom the cover artist, who is Indian and helped me nail the culture. I had less work to do for the western vampires, since I'm a middle ages lover and I had already researched the period for an historical novel still shelved.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your novels?
Barbara: The publisher's page has all the books with links to the distributors and retailers where they're available, usually with maps or other links included in the BOOK'S PAGE. There are also pages dedicated to the series as well (Silvery Earth, adult unconventional fantasy, Star Minds, science fantasy, Samantha the Witch, urban fantasy and historical fantasy).
Norm: What is next for Barbara Tarn?
Barbara: The latest novel is actually a fairy tale slashed, and I'm currently writing another one. My own version of Sleeping Beauty is set on Silvery Earth with male lovers and the obvious HEA (or it wouldn't be a fairy tale). The one I'm currently writing is a male Snow White. Next year I'll write another vampire historical, a couple more titles for Silvery Earth and maybe a few more stories for my science fantasy world Star Minds. But I haven't made big plans yet.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Barbara: How is the indie author life? Tough! I haven't been able to quit my day job yet, and it's hard to stay afload. But I know I'll never stop writing as new ideas for stories keep popping into my mind screaming "Pick me! Pick me!" I enjoy writing too much to give it up. As for success... it will come. It's a long term career, so I'm not looking for immediate results. Watch me in ten or twenty years time, I'll still be writing, and publishing! All the best to everyone trying his foot at putting his or her work out there. I know it's scary, but you can do it!
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors