Hi, readers! I am pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our sixteenth official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.
We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with a talented author. Please join me in welcoming Barbara Wallace to ILRB! 😀
Marie Lavender: Hello, Barbara. Please have a seat.
Author Barbara Wallace: Hi, Marie!
Marie: Hey, such a pleasure to have you here!
I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.
Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
I know I’m overloading you with questions, but we’re really interested in finding out more about you…
Barbara: I am primarily a writer, but I also work part-time at Barnes & Noble Bookstores. I took a seasonal job there a few years ago and never left. Not only does it keep me from being isolated in my little office, but it lets me spend time with readers and books. I’ve discovered a lot of new authors through chatting with customers.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Barbara: I like to think of my extended family as a wonderfully diverse and quirky bunch of people representing a variety of religions, nationalities, and sexual orientations. Holidays are always entertaining.
As far as my immediate family, my husband and I live with two spoiled cats and a sailboat. (Seriously, my husband thinks of the thing as a child.) The two of us spend a great deal of spare time reveling in our empty nest status. Our son is grown. He and his wife live a few hours away.
Marie: That’s wonderful!
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Barbara: I grew up in the CLEANEST home you’d ever see. My mom was a total neat freak. (I’m sure she’s rolling in grave over the state of my house – especially when I’m on deadline.) Our house was a pretty little Cape Cod with a neatly mowed lawn and an above ground swimming pool in a neighborhood full of pretty little Cape Cod houses with neatly mowed lawns and above ground swimming pools.
Marie: Lovely! And believe me, I’m just as messy while I am focused on a writing project. 😉
Do you have any hobbies, Barbara? What do you enjoy doing?
Barbara: When I’m not writing – which seems like always these days – I love to read. I’ve got a stack of books on my end table waiting for me. I wish I could tell you I garden or do some kind of craft, but I kill plants and I’m horribly craft-deficient. Although, I am thinking of taking up crochet this winter.
Marie: And what is your greatest dream?
Barbara: Well, my greatest dream used to be to become a published author. Clearly, I checked off that box. Now, I would like to have the freedom to control my own schedule. There are so many things I want to explore in this world, both creatively and literally. My dream is to one day have the freedom to do so without having to answer to a deadline or outside job. To be able to answer only to myself (and my husband, of course).
Marie: Sounds like a plan! 😀
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Barbara: I want to be someone who is comfortable being myself. I spend a lot of time being the person other people want me to be. I want to learn to be authentic, even if that means risking disapproval. Why haven’t I become that person? I’m working on it. It takes a lot of work to shake free of your childhood baggage.
Marie: I agree. And I’ve noticed we are our own worst critics. I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet certain standards and whenever I don’t reach those goals, it’s a huge disappointment.
But I guess I should go a bit easier on me, huh? 😉
So…who was your first love?
Barbara: His name was John and he played trumpet in the high school band. I was so in love with him. It broke my heart that he didn’t feel the same.
Marie: Aww. 😥
In any case, life seems to have worked out well for you! 😀
With the next question, I hope I’m not prying too much, but we are curious…
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Barbara: One very early morning, when my son was four months old, I was in the kitchen trying to wrap a blanket around his squirming body when he suddenly squirmed straight out of my arms. We rushed him to the hospital where they said he suffered a minor skull fracture. Thankfully he recovered. Even though it was a complete accident, the guilt from that day still rips my insides to shreds.
Marie: Yikes! 😕
At least he’s okay. I guess I can’t blame you for feeling that way.
Let’s move on to another topic, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Barbara: I wanted to be a writer as a child. So, yeah – I achieved it. Of course, in my mind back then, a writer meant being rich and famous with a mansion like Jackie Collins. Turns out, being a writer is a lot of hard work. No one told me the words didn’t just “pour out” of you and onto the page!
Marie: Right? I had big expectations too! (Laughs.)
Well, let’s trying something else…
Who is your role model, Barbara?
Barbara: I don’t know if I have one specific role model. There are a lot of people in my life with qualities that I seek to emulate. For example, my husband is a wonderfully charitable man who is always helping others. My best friend is amazingly diplomatic and a natural leader. Both of these people are people I strive to be more like.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Barbara: I’ll never tell. 🙂
Marie: (Chuckles.) No worries, I respect your privacy.
Let’s do something different.
What is your deepest desire?
Barbara: To be really and truly happy.
Marie: Sounds like a great goal to me! 😉
And what is your greatest fear?
Barbara: That I passed on my neuroses and tendency for depression to my son.
Marie: Oh, no! 😥
Let’s switch gears for a second…
If you were trapped on a deserted island, what five essentials would you need with you? They don’t have to be practical.
- A Gallon of Bug Spray
- A super large journal with a forever sharp pencil
- A sleeping bag
Marie: Can’t blame you on the bug spray! Yikes! We have so many bugs in Indiana. 🙄
And yes, a never-ending journal! 🙂
All right, readers, let’s get the author’s perspective on one of her characters.
We’ve heard rumors about the heroine of your story, Jenna Brown. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Barbara: Jenna Brown is a nurse in a nursing home on Nantucket Island. She moved there from Cambridge, which is just outside of Boston. Jenna’s practical and guarded. That comes from having watched her mother’s heart get broken over and over by her callous father. But there’s a part of her that’s longing for romance. She wants to be loved; she’s simply afraid to open her heart to the opportunity.
Marie: That’s understandable…
And what are Jenna’s greatest strengths?
Barbara: Her compassion. She’s dedicated her life to helping people who are dying and unable to care for themselves.
Marie: How admirable! 😀
Barbara: Her stubbornness. She is so determined to protect her heart that she doesn’t see the opportunity that’s right in front of her.
Marie: I see.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are Jenna’s favorite foods?
Barbara: Coffee. And fish. She lives in New England, after all.
Marie: All right.
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Barbara: She has an adventurous streak that I don’t think she’s ever tapped into before. She’s always so practical. This book gives her a chance to have a real adventure.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Barbara: Hopefully they will really like her and want her to have a happy ending!
Marie: Of course!
Now that we have a real taste of Jenna, we have a few questions for you as well as the author, about the writing process of your book.
What first gave you the idea for One Night in Provence?
Barbara: It actually came to me during an editorial meeting. The end of our editorial department said they were looking for ‘author-generated’ series. My bestie, Donna, immediately texted me and said, “We need to work together! We dragged in Nina Singh and the Mills & Boon queen Liz Fielding as well. Someone – I’m betting it was Donna Alward – suggested bucket list vacations. I practically screamed over everyone, “I’m doing a castle in Provence!” Largely because I want to take a vacation in a castle in Provence. LOL.
Marie: (Chuckles.) Awesome!
Oh, yes, I’d love to go to France too.
It’s fascinating how the muse works, huh? 😀
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, Barbara? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Barbara: I am what you would call a plodder. I plot the book in chunks of three or four chapters. I tend to write mind-numbingly slow as well. I want to make sure the characters drive the plot and that their reactions are in keeping with their personalities. There’s nothing that bothers me more than books that have characters doing things simply to facilitate a plot.
I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing One Night in Provence or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Barbara: Bear in mind that I was already under a multi-book contract with Harlequin when I wrote this book, so getting it published was a forgone conclusion. The challenge was to write – and then rewrite – a book that was both emotional and uplifting, especially as I was writing this during a very sad period in my life. (There’s a reason Jenna’s a nursing home nurse.) I ended up taking a lot of what happened and incorporating it into the story.
For aspiring writers – I took 15 years to initially publish. That was, of course, before self-publishing. Nowadays, writers don’t have to battle gatekeepers if they don’t choose to. My advice is simple: if you do want to be published traditionally, don’t ever give up. Keep writing and submitting. The key to success is perseverance.
To my independently published friends…always make sure that you are publishing your best work. Put yourself through the same editing and revision paces that you would experience were you traditionally published.
Marie: Such sound advice! 😀 Indeed, it is tough to navigate the publishing world.
I look forward to learning about the other books in this series as well.
Series: Destination Brides Book Three
Number in series: Third book in a four-book series, can be read as a standalone.
‘Spice’ level: Closed door sex
Publication date: August 1st
Publisher: Harlequin (US) / Mills & Boon (UK)
Here is the blurb:
Can an unexpected affair…
…lead to a lifetime of happiness?
In this Destination Brides story, while on vacation in Provence, homebody Jenna Brown embarks on a no-strings affair with a handsome stranger. But there’s more to wealthy playboy Philippe D’Usay than meets the eye. Scarred by loss, Philippe’s committed to being alone. But after their Provençal adventure ends, and Jenna discovers she’s pregnant, they must decide if their short-term connection could become a life together forever.
Here’s a peek at the story…
“Beatrice used to say stuff like that.”
“The woman who left you the money.”
Her smile softened. “She would have liked you. I remember one night we were watching a documentary about some ancient Greek city known for excessive living…”
“Sybaris,” he interrupted.
She looked at him in surprise. “Yes, that’s the one.”
“A lucky guess. I remember the lecture from university.”
“You have a very good memory.”
“It was a very interesting subject,” he said with a shrug.
“Anyway, when the show ended, Beatrice looked at me and said, ‘Those Greeks had the right idea.’”
“My kind of woman.”
“She must have dozed off during the part where the city was destroyed.”
“Yes, but at least they enjoyed themselves on the way out.” Reaching for the champagne, he filled both their glasses. “Vie amoureuse, as they say.”
“She definitely would have liked you.”
“Of course. I am a very likable person. You do not agree?” he asked at her enigmatic smile.
“Oh, I agree.” He watched while she traced the rim of her glass. “You’re extremely likable.”
“And you find that a problem.” A statement, not a question. He’d begun to notice a pattern with his American. Whenever she began to relax and enjoy herself, the wariness would rear its head to cool the enjoyment off. Such as now. Instead of laughing at his silly joke, she responded seriously.
“You do not trust me.” Again, he presented the words as fact.
“You’re a millionaire,” she countered. “Where I come from, millionaires don’t usually take women like me out to dinner.”
“They don’t believe in dating beautiful women?”
“They don’t pull out all the stops unless they have an agenda.”
Before he could reply, they were interrupted by a service. “Pissaladière,” the man announced before lifting the cover to reveal an onion tart, crust browned to perfection.
“I hope you don’t mind,” he said, “but I took the liberty of selecting the menu. Various Provençal dishes I think you would enjoy.”
“Case in point,” she replied.
“If your point is that I am trying to impress you, then I plead guilty as charged.”
“Impress me with the goal of coming back to my room.”
“Again guilty.” Did she expect him to deny human nature? Most women he knew would be swept off their feet by a moonlight dinner. Half of them would be in his arms before the tart arrived. With her, his efforts brought suspicion, despite his openness. It was almost as if she were afraid to enjoy herself.
He would need to rethink his approach.
“You always have the power to say no,” he reminded her.
“So long as we both realize that.” She smiled as she replied, but her eyes were serious.
“Ma chère, I never go anywhere I’m not invited. Although I hope you will save your rejection until after the tart.”
He placed a slice on her plate and waited while she took a bite. When her eyes closed, he knew he’d scored his first point. No one could resist well-done French cuisine.
“Amazing,” she replied.
“And that is only the beginning. By the time tonight is over, you’ll have discovered that most things in Provence are amazing. And irresistible.”
Ooh…love the tension! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 😀
Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3kpYkN
Publisher (UK): https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/products/hqnsingle-07183501
Publisher (Australia): https://store.millsandboon.com.au/products/one-night-in-provence
Add it to Goodreads or BookBub: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43891484-one-night-in-provence
What are people saying about One Night in Provence?
“One Night in Provence by Barbara Wallace is a Hallmark movie wrapped up in book form. Ms. Wallace did such a great job that I could picture everything happening. I felt so bad for these two every time they seemed to make progress then they’d fall back a couple of steps. This book was excellent, and I loved every minute of reading it.” – Karen (Baroness Book Trove), Goodreads and Amazon
“I absolutely loved this book the characters were great! The setting was brilliant! I loved how it turn out. I’m looking forward to more in this series.” – Penney Wilfort, Amazon and Goodreads
“Another home run from Barbara Wallace! Two unlikely people from very different worlds who have given up on love and the hope of having a happily ever after come together for one week in Provence, France, a week that will change their lives forever. Perfect, uplifting beach read! You could almost smell the beautiful flowers that go into making perfume from this magnificent region of the world. ” – Valerie DeAngelis, Goodreads
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this contemporary, vacation romance! ♥♥♥
My love affair with writing began the day my best friend, Kim, showed me her “novel”, an illustrated tome about her cat. Impressionable eight-year-old that I was, I decided to write a novel of my own.
Needless to say, that novel, The Adventures of Ginger the Cat, failed to hit the bestseller’s lists. Neither did my second effort, The Tame, Tame East, an all-female version of the Robert Conrad TV series. That didn’t matter. I was hooked. In high school, while other kids played Pac-Man, and checked out the Eagles’ latest, I was in my room pounding out stories on my manual typewriter.
Looking back, I see now that romance played a central role in my stories from the beginning. No matter what genre I wrote (and I wrote all of them), I always inserted a happy ending. Heck, even The Adventures of Ginger featured a wedding. To me, there’s nothing more captivating than the anticipation of seduction, and the rush that comes from finding true love. However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed me a romance novel that my writing finally found its true home.
For years I limited my dreams to nights, weekends and commuter train trips while working as a communications specialist, PR freelancer and full-time mom. But then, after years of knocking on doors, I sold to Harlequin Romance. Today, I’ve sold nearly 1 million books world-wide. And, I couldn’t have done it without you.
A life-long Yankee, I live in New England with my own true love and two spoiled, rescue cats. They are currently pouting because they’ve been informed neither of them will have a book written about them. Or because they want more food. It’s a fifty-fifty shot.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the fascinating Barbara Wallace, here are some author links…
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Wallace/e/B003NTCHMO/
Once again, I want to thank Barbara Wallace, the brilliant author of this modern romance, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! Readers, check out her work! ♥