TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Barbara: When I’m working on a scene, I sit on the sofa and improvise dialogue between the characters. Definitely a legacy of my years as an actress. It’s amazing how many times the conversation goes in unexpected directions, which changes my original concept of the scene and deepens the emotional conflicts between characters.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Barbara: I guess I’m a plontser! I work from a synopsis, but I’ve found that outlining every chapter just sucks the life – and the creativity – out of me. I like to leave room for surprises. Those are often the best moments in a book.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Barbara: Adhering to a schedule. It’s either feast or famine with me. When I’m on a roll, I can write twelve hours a day. When I’m not on a roll…oy, you don’t want to know how much time I waste playing computer games.
TQ: What inspired you to write the Crossroads Theatre novels - Spellcast and Spellcrossed?
Barbara: I wanted to write a fantasy that drew on my theatre background. Theatre IS fantasy. Bringing a truly fantastic element into the mix seemed like a natural.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for novels?
Barbara: I relied on my experience as an actress to create the backstage world of the Crossroads, but I did a lot of research on the actual musicals so that the onstage moments would be as detailed and authentic as possible. Although I knew most of the shows, I still needed to read the script; you can’t rely on the movie version or on memory. I sat down with the scores so I knew which instruments were used in the musical numbers. I also looked at set designs and clips from productions on YouTube to get inspiration for the sets.
TQ: Describe Spellcrossed (Crossroads Theatre 2) in 140 characters or less.
Barbara: Maggie’s life is thrown into chaos by a blast from her past that makes her question what she wants and how far she’s prepared to go to get it.
TQ: In Spellcrossed who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Barbara: Maggie was the easiest AND the hardest. Easiest because I knew her so well. Hardest at the beginning of the book. I had to bring readers up to speed on what had happened since the end of Spellcast. I needed to show that Maggie could survive – as a woman and as director – without Rowan. And I wanted her to discover things about herself and her new cast before that blast from the past comes in at the end of Act One.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Spellcrossed?
Barbara: Well, I did enjoy writing some of the sex scenes. But my favorite is probably Chapter 11 – the moment when Maggie’s life gets turned upside down. It’s such an emotional roller coaster for her.
TQ: Which character from Spellcast and Spellcrossed surprised you the most?
Barbara: In Spellcast, it was definitely Reinhard. Although Hal claims that Reinhard is “a pussycat,” Reinhard starts off as the gruff, dictatorial stage manager. In the course of writing the book, he morphed into a kind of father figure for Maggie. I had picked Alex (the music director) for that role, but it’s much more surprising – and interesting – when Reinhard steps up to the plate. I guess Hal knew what he was talking about!
TQ: The cover for Spellcrossed is radically different than Spellcast's. Do you believe that the Spellcrossed cover more accurately reflects the novel than the cover for Spellcast did?
Barbara: Absolutely! My original concept for Spellcast was much more like the cover of Spellcrossed: a close-up of the stage, a mysterious figure surrounded in light. I wanted something that hinted at fantasy and mystery and romance. Instead I got a barn.
A lot of reviews of Spellcast had some variation of: “Ignore the cover. It’s what inside that counts!” (I especially liked the one that began: “I picked up this book because I felt sorry for it. Why? Look at the cover!) I think that’s why so many readers were surprised by Spellcast – the cover gave them no idea what to expect.
TQ: What's next?
Barbara: I’m working on two different novels and revising one of my musicals for a production in New York City. Still not sure which of the novels I want to concentrate on first; maybe I’ll try writing both at the same time!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Barbara: Thank you, Sally. Always fun to visit. And for any readers who live in the New York City area, the Spellcrossed release party will be held Sunday, June 24, in New Rochelle. (Details on my website.) I’d love to have you drop by!
About Crossroads Theatre
SpellcrossedCrossroads Theatre 2
DAW, June 5, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
IT’S NOT EASY LOSING THE MAGIC IN YOUR LIFE…
But when Maggie Graham freed Rowan Mackenzie to return to Faerie, she took the first step toward her new life as director of the Crossroads Theatre. A hectic new season of summer stock leaves her little time to moon over the past. She has to balance the demands of her interfering board president and a company of actors that includes bewildered amateurs, disdainful professionals, a horde of children, and an arthritic dog. And while Maggie yearns to give others the kind of healing she found at the Crossroads, even she recognizes that magic must take a back seat to ticket sales.
But magic is hard to banish from the old white barn. Memories lurk like ghosts in the shadowy wings and the unexpected is as time-honored a tradition as the curtain call. And when the tangled spells of Maggie’s past turn her life upside down, it will take more than faery magic to ensure the happy-ever-after ending she longs for….
SpellcastCrossroads Theatre 1
DAW, May 3, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
When Maggie Graham lost her job and her apartment fell to pieces, she decided to flee New York City for a while and hide in Vermont, at the Crossroads Theatre. She hadn't planned to audition, yet soon found herself part of the summer stock cast. But her previous acting experiences couldn't prepare her for the theater's unusual staff-and its handsome, almost otherworldly director.
What: One commenter will win a copy of Spellcrossed (Crossroads Theatre 2) from The Qwillery.
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
Which cover do you like better - Spellcast's or Spellcrossed's?
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*