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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Q&A INTERVIEW with Suzanne Barrett Author of Love and War

Today I welcome talented author Suzanne Barrett to share at my bookshelf. 
Thanks for visiting Suzanne.
I really enjoyed the Irish country setting in In Love and War. The setting and the plot raised several questions.

Q1.  Where did the inspiration for In Love and War  come from?
In Love and WarI've always had a love for and interest in England and Ireland. After an initial visit to Ireland to meet a pen pal, I began writing and studying Irish history, and my husband suggested a wintertime visit to Ireland to research the story I'd got in my head. We rented a mews cottage in the County Waterford village of Cappoquin. I'd previously decided my heroine would be a dairy farmer, so I'd scheduled an interview with a nearby dairy farmer/cheesemaker. Visits to neighboring farms taught me a lot about marketing, milk quotas and various things my heroine might face in her efforts to make a living from her land. Then one evening I watched a television program about four Irish farm women who ran their farms without extra full-time help, and, voila! I knew my heroine could do this. Add a bit of the history of the early twentieth century "Troubles", and I had conflict. A chance visit to a quiet pub and afternoon spent with a few old-timers gave me an insight into the mind-set of a small village and the proof that a war for independence was still being fought. Finally, my landlady showed me a converted castle keep on property near hers. I wrote furiously while there, and finished the book after returning home, knowing I'd truly done my research. Everything in the story is real, right down to the roadside shrine.
Q2.  Did you have to do special research for In Love and War ?
I had to be in Ireland to do my research. I could never have imagined the operation of a dairy farm or the business of making cheese without seeing it first hand. Eileen Harty spent the better part of a day showing me the operation, after which we enjoyed a delicious lunch and cheese sampling at her kitchen table.
Q3.  Did you have any personal history that made you want to write this story or your story Late Harvest?
Late HarvestI have always felt I had one foot planted in America and the other in Europe. From the age of twelve I had German, French, English and Irish pen pals. I studied English and Irish history, wrote articles on the history, geography and culture. In Love and War came from that desire to learn more. Late Harvest combined my interest in wineries and winemaking with my German heritage.
Q4.  Would you provide only a two or three sentence "teaser" quote from Love and War?
Irish dairy farmer, Meaghann Power, struggling to make ends meet rents her converted castle keep to an embittered war correspondent wounded in Bosnia, while Quinn Lawlor has come to his ancestral homeland to heal and to be left alone. However, pragmatic Meaghann discovers much more than just her attractive-but-surly tenant's body is in need of healing. What begins as indifference turns to fascination, and later, desire. But can their passion survive Meaghann's own dark secrets?
I know from interviews that authors have different styles, strengths and weaknesses.
Q.5  Do you have any disciplines in writing that have been particularly helpful?

I actually don't, however, I simply cannot write if my office is cluttered. I have to keep things in order for the words to flow.
Q6.  What has been the hardest part of writing and getting published for you?
If you're referring to being "New York published", I think it's that most of my stories push the envelope. No one would look at a book that had Irish politics in the plot, and my then NY publisher said of Late Harvest, "we don't like Germans." But generally speaking, my biggest struggle was crafting a story that had the elements a New York house was looking for. I'd been writing for nine years before getting the call. I'd studied, written, revised, and written some more. When I finally sold my first book, I'd completed six others. Now that I've a backlist and small presses are embracing more unusual plots, it's been a glorious ride.
Q7. What do you hope your readers will get out of your books?
I hope they find my stories interesting and informative without being preachy; I hope they fall in love with my protagonists and their stories linger after the last page is turned.
 You have a unique side business. 
Q8.  Please tell us a little about your other business. Bellerustique

Five years ago I taught myself wire wrapping and now have a small side business where I create pendants, earrings and bracelets using sterling or gold-filled wire and semi-precious gemstones. I sell on the Internet and at various arts and crafts shows in my local area.
Q9.  Have you or do you plan to work your jewelry interests into any of your writing?
I hadn't thought about that, but it's certainly a great idea!
Now I have a couple of questions to tell us a little more about you personally.
Q10. Who are some of your favorite authors to read when you are not writing?

I'm an eclectic reader, but I often look for a good romantic suspense. I read Brenda Novak and Sharon Sala. In romance it would be Robyn Carr, Lynna Banning (my critique partner). I just found Susanna Kearsley and Julie Klassen, both of whom I admire. I prefer a fast-paced book with lots of plot, strong characterization, and it must be well written.
Q11. If you could trade places with anyone, real or imagined, in any time, who would it be and why?
I don't know about trading places, but an historical figure who fascinates me is Michael Collins. I own every biography written about him.
Q12. If you could have readers finish a sentence what would it be?
Next to happiness and health, I wish for .....
Thank you again Suzanne for sharing with my blog readers and for offering a giveaway of this lovely romance.  Please see the review and Giveaway for a chance to win In Love and War.

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