Unpublished Author Extraordinare: An Interview with RC Barnes

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Dearly DeBloggers – it’s that time again! I have had the pleasure of reading RC Barnes up and coming novel – The House on Black Tupelo – I immediately fell in love with her characters – RC certainly has a gift for character development. Can’t wait to see more of this soon to be published author!

7NB: Where do you get most of your ideas and inspiration?

I am a voracious reader and an avid movie watcher.  Always have been.  Many times, I get my ideas because I’m disappointed with how a story or book was executed.  I’ll think “they should have explored this more” or “why didn’t they realize this was a comedy?” and voila! An idea is born.  Then there are the times where a character comes into my consciousness.  It happens when I am watching someone (usually a stranger that catches my eye for some reason) and I begin to wonder about whom they are and what goes on in their heart.  
7NB: Do you have a set writing schedule, or are you more of a “when the mood hits” kind of girl?  
I was a “when the mood hits type of girl,” but I wasn’t accomplishing my writing goals in the manner that I wished.  I had to set up a schedule and it actually took awhile to find one that really works.  I have three kids and two jobs, and every now and then I take on freelance writing assignments.  My spec material was viewed as a luxury to me, and I had to change that way of thinking.  I had to view it as work – my future work.  My 401(k), if you will.  Now, my spec work is job number two and a half, and it gets scheduled like everything else.  Of course, there is fine tuning here and there, but being a mom; I already know what being flexible is all about.
My weekly goal is 8-10 hours.  Now that school is in session, it happens predominately on the weekends. 
7NB: Can you tell us about your current WIP (work in progress)?  We’d love to hear about some of the characters or what the main idea is, if you don’t mind sharing.
This particular WIP started from one of my disappointment scenarios.  I picked up a book and read the jacket and envisioned the most marvelous ghost story, only to find that the ghost element wasn’t real and there wasn’t even a good thriller component.  The writing was lyrical when it should have been tough and on point.  So, in some ways I am rewriting that book. I also think that characters are best defined by their relationships.  My WIP deals with a fatherless boy who finds his desired father figure in the ghost of a runaway slave.  There are many things that happen in the story, but that relationship is the heart of it. 
7NB: What does your writing workspace look like?
I had the most beautiful writing space with a large desk, and boards for pictures and note cards to help stimulate my writing and give me inspiration, but sadly my desk has been commandeered by my fifteen year old for his schoolwork.  There are very few quiet spots in the home.  So in all honesty, my current workspace is the quaint coffee spot across the street which I use as my impromptu living room.  They have wifi and I just carry my laptop.  If I believe I will be working past 10, I go to Starbucks.

7NB: Your WIP is a YA novel. Any plans to write for other age groups?

I love children’s books.  I think the best stories can be found within their pages.  Whenever I thought about my writing career, I always viewed myself as a writer for young people.  I originally thought my WIP was a YA due to the harsh nature of some of the slave stories, I wanted to incorporate.  But an agent at a writer’s workshop I attended told me it was most definitely middle grade – so I’m sticking with that for now.  (Especially since I would love that particular agent to represent it) 
Having said that, I think I have an adult book in me somewhere, but a few family members need to pass on before I can write it…(wicked smile). 
7NB: What is your favorite YA novel of all time? How about your favorite book on the craft of writing? 
So hard to answer this, so I’ll cheat a bit.  I’ll say favorite all time are “Phantom Tollbooth” and the Harry Potter books, but they are MG and not YA.  If we are going for a true YA book, then “The Pigman” by Paul Zindel, Cormier’s “I am the Cheese”, and “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card.   My favorite books on the craft of writing are Stephen King’s “On Writing” and Ann Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”.
7NB: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I realized when I wrote a book at the age of ten.  It was a real book with chapters, not a story, and it was about 100 pages – typed.  I felt so fulfilled and happy when I completed it.  Best.  Feeling. Ever.

7NB: When you start looking for agent representation, what are some of the qualities you will look for in an agent?

I want an agent that is looking to invest in me for awhile.  I am not a one off writer.  There will be a few titles coming from me.  So a good working relationship and clear communication is key.
7NB: What is the best advice anyone has given you with regards to your writing?
You have to do it.  It’s that simple, but also that hard.
7NB: What is the advice would you give to aspiring writers who can’t seem to get their butts in chair to start their novel!
You are not a writer, if you are not writing.  Also, I believe that you need to read in order to know your craft.  If you wish to write romance, read romance.  If it is a thriller, you are crafting, then you must read thrillers.  Know your audience.
7NB: What is your experience like, balancing writing and a full time work schedule?
It is the most challenging aspect of my week.  I try not to become too frustrated when things don’t time off just right.  I have two teenagers and I think that it is important for them to see their mother pursuing her dream and noting the obstacles I face.  Perseverance wins in the end.
7NB: What are some of your favorite blogs you follow?
I’m assuming that you mean agent or writing blogs.  I follow Nathan Bransford, Mary Kole, and Rachelle Gardner fairly regularly.  There are others that I check in with now and then, but I am cutting back right now, because going to these sites reduces my actual writing time too much.  I’ll probably regroup and revisit when I am about to enter the hard rewrites on my WIP.
Thank you RC Barnes! And I will see you on tour!! 🙂

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