Owing to email glitches, this interview with Anne Barwell, originally scheduled for April 13, is going up now. Anne is a fellow Dreamspinner Press author. Welcome!
- When and why did you start writing romance?
I started writing romance at the end of 2000 when I got my first computer and discovered the internet, and with it, fanfiction. I love exploring what if’s and relationships within different scenarios. As a reader whether I get hooked on a story is very much down to the characters and by the same token, as a writer, what I write is very character driven.
2. Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it? If not, do people in your “real life” know that you write romance?
My pen name is my real first name and my maiden name. I didn’t want to use my married name as I’m separated, and I wanted a little bit of separation between the two because when my first book came out I was relief teaching. People in my ‘real life’ know I write romance and m/m and are very supportive. I work in a library and my books are part of the collection. When Cat’s Quill got an honourable mention in last years’ Rainbow Awards, they put on the front page of the online library catalogue J
3. Tell us about your latest book.
Shadowboxing is an M/M historical drama set in 1943 in Berlin during WW2. Kristopher Lehrer is a physicist having doubts about his work. He confronts his superior but when everything goes horribly wrong, he ends up on the run with Michel, a member of the Resistance. Michel contacts the Allied team sent in to retrieve the information Kristopher carries, but before long the so-called “simple” mission becomes anything but.
4. Is there a plot you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t been able to yet?
I have a plot – which is threatening to become a series – set in Wellington, which is a mix of SF/fantasy/gothic, although the explanation for the ‘ghost’ has a twist to it. This story has been nagging at me for quite some time but I thought I’d better finish the two series I’ve already started before starting a third!
5. What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled to?
By the time this interview is posted I’ll be home from a five day road trip of the West Coast of New Zealand’s south island. The landscape down there is breathtaking and I’ve been told very different from Wellington where I live. There are lots of interesting places to visit such as castles, Chinese gardens, the Cadbury factory, shanty towns and craft places with glassblowing, jade and the like.
6. What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever set a story in?
Slow Dreaming is set in Petone where I grew up. The foreshore, as described, in the story is a real place, as is the Indian restaurant where Jason and Sean stop to buy lunch. I enjoyed being able to set something locally and share something of where I live.
7. What books do you have available now (title and publisher)?
Cat’s Quill and Shadowboxing both from Dreamspinner Press.
8. What books do you have coming soon?
I have a short novella, Slow Dreaming, coming out in June from Dreamspinner Press as part of their time travel themed daily doses collection, Time is Eternity. I’ve also just finished writing Magic’s Muse which is the sequel to Cat’s Quill, so hopefully will be submitting that soon.
9. What’s your favorite thing to drink while you’re writing?
Tea. It depends on my mood as to the type of it. I enjoy different herbal varieties as well as black teas such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Choysa/Bell/Dilmah which are the teas most readily available here in NZ.
10. What genre are most of your stories? Why did you choose that genre?
I write a lot of SF/fantasy although Shadowboxing is an historical drama. I’m not sure I chose the genres per se or whether the genres chose me as those were the stories that demanded to be written. I’ve read science fiction for as long as I can remember although in later years that has drifted more towards fantasy although I still read a good mixture of both. I love the possibilities of what if within the genre and mix that with a good story that involves time travel and/or psi powers and I’m hooked. WW2 is a time period that has always fascinated me as it’s great backdrop for exploring behavior and social ideologies, not to mention action/drama with a good dollop of romance.
“I’ve got you,” Michel whispered soothingly. Kristopher’s breathing was ragged, his face covered in beads of perspiration. Now that his attention wasn’t totally focused on putting one foot in front of the other, it was more difficult to hide whatever was wrong.
His eyes glazed over; he was fighting to stay conscious.
Jerking free from Michel’s embrace, Kristopher reached inside his shirt, his hand brushing gingerly against his shoulder. He bit down on his lip but didn’t manage to hide a murmur of pain. A frown creased his forehead when he removed his hand and held it up to the light, staring at it. “Michel,” he said slowly, “is that blood?”
Blood? Oh God, no. Michel’s mind returned to the gunfight and the shots Reiniger had managed to fire in Kristopher’s direction.
Kristopher stared at his hand as though he didn’t believe it was his. His eyes began to close. He blinked, whimpering. “I don’t feel right,” he whispered faintly. He let his hand drop to his side.
“Kristopher, you need to stay awake.” Michel slid his arm around Kristopher’s waist, trying to help him stay upright, but Kristopher pushed him away, pulling the borrowed jacket more tightly around himself. His eyes fluttered then he slowly reopened them.
Michel gently replaced his arm around Kristopher’s waist holding him close again. This time there was no argument. “I’m sorry, Michel.” He gave Michel a shaky smile. “I’ll try, but I’m so tired.” He groaned, his head drooping before he pulled himself awake once more, leaning more heavily on Michel. “I just need to sleep. I’ll be fine once I sleep. I only wanted to make the world a better place.” He looked up at Michel, his expression pleading, his fingers gripping Michel’s sweater. “I tried to stop the nightmares. Please, you have to help me… put… things… right.”
Kristopher’s eyes began to close. He shivered. “It’s cold. Why is it so cold?”
“Kristopher… please. Look at me.” Michel lowered Kristopher carefully to the ground and felt for his pulse. It was fast and irregular, his skin cold and clammy to the touch. “You need to try and focus.” Michel’s fingers shook as he eased the jacket from the shoulder Kristopher had favored. The inside of it was soaked in blood. Michel’s breath hitched, but he forced himself to examine it more closely. He was no doctor, and it was difficult to tell how bad the wound was, just that it had obviously been seeping for quite some time.
God, how had Kristopher managed to get this far? Michel knew that Kristopher was strong willed and stubborn but this…. Michel bit his lip. If he didn’t get Kristopher to a doctor and soon…. Michel grabbed a handkerchief from his pocket and rolled it into a makeshift pad, pressing the cloth against the wound in the hope that pressure might at least help staunch the flow of blood.