Today I am fortunate to have author Barbar Gaskell Denvil on my blog.
Hello Barbara. Tell us about your books. Is there one in particular you are promoting right now? What is it about?
I write principally historical fiction, but my new book, published on 2nd June and available in ebook and paperback editions, is just a little different. This novel, Fair Weather, is set in England during the reign of King John and the historical setting is lush, rich and important to me and to my storyline. However, the plot includes time travel, and the modern heroine goes back to inhabit the mind and body of a young girl at a most important and unexpected moment of her life. The link between my two heroines is very important, and unfolds gradually. There is a large paranormal element, and the hero links true history to dark evil of myth, cult and power of the paranormal.
This is a novel of mystery and adventure with a strong romantic theme. It is highly unusual in many ways, and I believe that the characters are particularly vivid.
Start reading – and you will be welcomed into a new world of danger, threat and mystery where the poor of London in the early 13th century discover a greater ruin than poverty, a greater threat than discomfort and a greater power than the king’s. But stopping the inevitable can only be achieved by travel through time, and knowing more about the past and the future before accepting the present.
How do you come up with the ideas for your writing?
My imagination never dries up and my main problem is stopping my over-worked inspiration so I can finish one book before being yearning to start another. My dreams seem to leap alive and are colourful, continuing long after I wake. Of course many other smaller things bring ideas – something as small as a word – a point of research – the beauty of a sunset over the ocean – or some sudden memory from my own romantic past. My characters feel truly alive to me, and they continue to be my friends even once a book is finished and published. Perhaps I am a little mad. Aren’t all authors?
What’s the best part of being a writer?
Never being alone and never, ever being bored. The principal characters from all my books remain my friends and although we can’t meet up for coffee and a chat, they keep me company in the long nights, and they comfort me. I adore sitting all those hours at my computer creating and inventing – it is a vivid life. I don’t think authors are ever lonely. My friends complain of being bored, while I am cheerfully immersed in new worlds.
Are you a painter or an outliner? Or a bit of both?
I am definitely a painter. I love to enlarge my settings, and bring them to life with full colour and a sense of the true period in which I have set my story. As I write, I imagine every scene, and then paint it into my books with the brush of words and characterisation. I try not to overdo description since that can slow down the pace and the flow of the plot, but at the same time I want my readers to see, feel, smell and hear all the amazing depth of the pictures I see myself. In that way I welcome them into the world of my books, and ask them to become one of the characters themselves.
Tell us about your main characters? What makes them so special?
Tilda is one of my favourite heroines. She starts out as very young, little more than a child, and matures as the book continues. Her life was never easy, but she is naive and living in the 13th century, she accepts that a man will lead, direct and dominate her. She grows in strength and understanding, and through difficulty she learns to make her own decisions and her own demands. However, she remains incredibly sweet and I am so terribly fond of her.
My modern heroine Molly is very different. She is older and after an unusual and difficult life, now is very aware of her strengths. She is a successful divorced woman who has always known what she wants, and is prepared to work for it. Yet she merges with Tilda and grows to love her, giving the younger woman strength, while Tilda teaches Molly a kind and loving sweetness. So each learns from the other, while experiencing some of the most horrendous challenges, and meanwhile both falling in love with the same man.
And my hero? Well –Vespasian is not even a hero in the true sense of the word and he’s not so easy to describe at all.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
Pure entertainment and a memory of every character. My characters are so alive to me and I would love them to stay in my readers’ heads for a little while, just as they do with me. I love to write, and my aim is to link with readers who will obtain as much joy from my books as I do.
Are you self published, traditionally published, or a hybrid? Why?
I have tried both. Some of my books have been traditionally published and sold very well. The publisher treated me with care, respect and great enthusiasm. However, I must admit that the experience of self-publishing is my favourite, for I love to take control of the reins myself. I then have my own choice of cover, of editor and of timing. Traditional publishers will only bring out one book a year, however much the author would like to bring out more often. Also in today’s chaotic and commercially difficult book market, traditional publishers have too small a budget for publicity for anyone except their acknowledged best-sellers. New authors receive little help with marketing, and can easily flounder into invisibility unless luck falls at their feet. I love the challenge, the freedom and the control of self-publishing, and that is the choice I make now.
A small stigma concerning self-publishing still lingers. It is time this disappeared. True – not every self-published book is a great work of fiction – but then, nor is every traditionally published book either. The publishing business is changing – fast and furious. We all have a choice to make.
Tell us about your book cover. Did someone design it for you or did you do it yourself?
My granddaughter designed this cover for me and that was after a sudden spark of inspiration. I love this cover. It is unusual, which echoes the book, and it is a little weird, which also echoes the book. The snake which eats its own tail, and the old tarot cards are very prominent in the storyline. My granddaughter has truly captured the feeling I want.
I think we all have different tastes in book covers and I have to admit I really did not like the ones my traditional publisher gave me. I am sure some people won’t like the ones I’ve chosen myself, but I love my own and this new one for Fair Weather is one of my favourites.
If you could have dinner with a character from a book, who would you choose and why?
I would sit down to a very challenging meal with the main character who haunts me from Fair Weather. This is a man who is neither hero nor villain, but he leads this book through its paces, carrying the responsibility of good and evil, love and hate, and past, present and future.
Vespasian Fairweather is not his true name, he took it for himself when he wished to hide his real identity.
It will not be a peaceful dinner date and I’m not even sure if it will be enjoyable – but I should love to meet this man. He already lives in vivid depth inside my head, but meeting him properly would be a wonderful experience.
The actual food won’t matter much because Vespasian will only care about the conversation, and the motives for my invitation. I had better have my wits about me, and I had better be ready for anything. But I know that when he leaves I will wish beyond all doubt that he would come back.
Do you have any closing remarks?
I am very excited about the launch of my special favourite novel. Fair Weather, and I do hope it meets with public approval. If anyone reads the book, and enjoys it as I do hope they will, I would love them to leave a review on Amazon. I learn from all the reviews left, and they help other readers too.
In the meantime, thank you so much Coreena, for a fascinating interview. It’s been great talking to you.
Thank you so much, Barbara, for being here today and for sharing your writing with us.
About Barbara Gaskell Denvil:
Born in England, I grew up amongst artists and authors and started writing at a young age. I published numerous short stories and articles, and worked as an editor, book critic and reader for publishers and television companies. I broke off my literary career to spend many hot and colourful years sailing the Mediterranean and living in various different countries throughout the region.
When my partner died I needed a place of solace and came to live in rural Australia where I still live amongst the parrots and wallabies, writing constantly, for my solace has now become my passion.
With a delight in medieval history dating back to my youth, I now principally set my fiction in 15th century England. I also write fantasy, tending towards the dark and adult. Within these two genres, I now write full time.
Places you can find Barbara and her books: