Friday, September 10, 2010

Interview with Barbara White Daille

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Barbara White Daille. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called FAMILY MATTERS. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?


Kim, thanks for inviting me to the blog and for interviewing me. This is the first stop on a virtual blog tour to celebrate the publication of FAMILY MATTERS. I’m very happy to be here and to have the chocolate so readily available.

I’m also happy to talk about FAMILY MATTERS, the story of a hardheaded attorney and an equally stubborn teacher who meet in a heated battle over a local amusement park.

Kerry MacBride is the only sensible one in a family of Irish eccentrics. Though raised by loving grandparents, as the only girl, she was forced into a nurturing role that caused her to grow up quickly. As soon as she could, she left her tiny Illinois hometown for college and a career. But, of course, there was no escaping her sense of responsibility or her unbreakable ties to those she left behind.

Now an art teacher in an inner-city Chicago high school, Kerry is still the family's answer to an emergency. Or maybe I should say every emergency, because it seems whenever she turns around, one of them needs her help desperately!

This time, it’s her outrageous Uncle Bren, who has a history of coming up with wild and improbable schemes. His latest enterprise involves persuading everyone in her grandmother's retirement community to invest in restoring an abandoned amusement park.

When Matt Lawrence, the lawyer son of one of the residents, threatens Uncle Bren with legal action, it's Kerry to the rescue yet again. But this time she might be too late.

Matt is a natural-born protector committed to fighting for the underdog in any situation. Now, with his mom and all her friends at risk of losing every penny they have, Matt’s unstoppable. He intends to do whatever it takes to save everyone’s finances—even if he's forced to send Kerry's scheming uncle to jail.

In the middle of all this uproar, the last thing Kerry and Matt want is to find themselves attracted to each other. But in the course of this story, they get overheated in more ways than one....

Throw some daredevil siblings, an offbeat grandmother, a couple of determined matchmakers, and a runaway teenager into the mix, and things get downright crazy.

But, trust me, all this made FAMILY MATTERS one fun book to write!

FAMILY MATTERS is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Sometimes I’ll start writing already knowing the title of the book. It’s often what jumpstarts me into the story. Not always, but often enough for me to make note of it.

With this book, though, the title grew naturally as the story unfolded. I’m thrilled it happened that way because, for me, the title has a double meaning that’s ingrained in who the characters are and what they represent.

First of all, Kerry’s well-developed sense of responsibility and Matt’s equally strong desire to protect originated in their family histories. For them both, family matters.

Secondly, from start to finish, this book is about...well...family matters.

It’s also about two people who appear to be polar opposites but who have to fight their way through all kinds of well-meant interference in their attempt to find a happy resolution—for everyone. Whether or not they succeed is something I’ll leave to my readers to discover.
What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love category romance for so many reasons.

Warning: Spoiler alert here...

First and foremost is the guaranteed happy ending.

As a reader, I find fiction is an escape. It lets me get away from my busy, stressful day, from my To-Do list, and from the dishes and laundry and dinner and whatever else needs to be done.

It’s a relief to know that when I pick up a category romance I can immerse myself in a new world. A world where the main characters are sure to resolve their conflicts and come to a happy—or at least satisfying—ending.

It’s also gratifying to see how the characters work through their problems and figure things out.

As a writer, I love the challenge of creating a shorter, faster-paced book while still meeting the reader’s expectations.

What does that mean for me? Compelling, fully fleshed-out characters the reader cares about. A plot with enough twists and turns to hold the reader riveted until the last page of the book. And a developing relationship laced with enough worry factor to keep the reader wondering just when and how and if the hero and heroine will ever be able to get out of this mess they’ve gotten themselves into and find their happy ending.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

Good question, Kim. Wish I had a good answer for you.

For lack of a better word, I’ll call myself a plotser, which doesn’t sound very complimentary, does it? But it explains my process, which is a mix of the two different types of writers you mentioned: a person who plots her book beforehand and one who wings it as she goes along.

With every novel I’ve written, the plotted has evolved a little bit differently, but the process essentially goes like this: Get a few ideas about the story down on paper. Write an opening scene. Keep going if I’m in the flow, or maybe jump back to flesh out more story ideas. Then return to the story pages.

A little confusing, but it seems to work for me.

You see, the thing is, when I put those initial story ideas down on paper, I’m sure I know my characters. Then I get into the writing, and those people surprise me. They tell me something I didn’t know or refuse to do something I want them to do or take the story off in another direction.

That’s always good for a headache or two.

On the other hand, I have to admit it keeps me hooked on the story—and I hope when the book is done, it does the same for my readers.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Originally, the idea came to me from the characters. I won’t say Kerry and Matt sprang into my head, fully developed. But their conflict quickly became clear. After that, the pair of them fascinated me.

Here we have two sane, levelheaded, ultra-responsible people who care passionately about the same issue—taking care of family. Yet they allow their emotions to override their good sense, keeping them from seeing that, down deep, they’re two of a kind.

To me, that was such an unsolvable problem, I didn’t know how they’d ever get together!

Once the characters started to come alive, I thought about the other family members who—because of the storyline—would have to play important roles in the book. That made me think back to my childhood.

My mom came from an Irish family who all lived within shouting distance of each other. Growing up, I was surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles, and a couple of grandparents. Please don’t get me wrong. My family members weren’t any more eccentric than anyone else’s. But I did experience what it was like to be surrounded by a big family of Irish descent. So, when Kerry appeared, I knew just what she needed to keep her life interesting.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

A very difficult question, Kim. Attempting to answer this would be like trying to decide which child is the favorite. In that case, what I’d say is: they’re all different, but I love them all equally.

Kerry could be my favorite. She’s so loving and giving. During the book, she sacrifices something extremely important to her for the sake of rushing to her family’s rescue. That alone makes me want to root for her, maybe even against the hero.

Or maybe not.

Matt might be my favorite. How could you not love a man who fights for people in trouble? For people who have no one else to believe in them and nowhere else to turn? In my book—literally—Matt is the ultimate hero.

Let’s say they’re different, but I loved writing about them equally.

Then to answer the question, I’ll tell you about another character who plays a vital role in FAMILY MATTERS.

The name’s J.J. Grogan. A long, lanky, creatively talented ex-gang member ready to graduate from an inner-city school. A teenager who has overcome his troubled past and is on his way to a shining future. Or is he?

I’d tell you more, but I’m afraid of getting carried away. I loved writing about J.J, too!

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing?

I start off with all the best intentions, with a blank character chart for the hero and heroine, at least. And I do jot notes on it from time to time. But once I get into the story, every element of character is entwined with every other element, and then that’s all braided into the plot. At that point, I’m so invested in the characters, I know them even without looking at my charts.

I’m afraid I don’t do character interviews very often, either. Here’s an example of what works for me:

A character refuses to do something I want him to do.

(I’ll use “him” for the sake of convenience, but bear in mind, my heroines give me trouble, also.)

Now, sometimes, he’ll take the story in a different direction and I’ll go along for the ride. For a while, anyway. Sometimes, I’ve touched on a subject he just darn well refuses to discuss. That’s a little more difficult. What I’ll do then is let him ramble. It may take him some time to get to the point, but sooner or later I find out what’s wrong.

Rather than an interview, I would say my characters journal about their thoughts.

Disclaimer: Although I talk a lot about “seeing” and “knowing” my characters, I’m sure it’s obvious that characters come from the writer’s imagination. There are no “real” people running around in an author’s head. Though it does seem like it at times!

When a character “refuses to do something I want him to do,” that means I’m the one who is stuck at whatever point it is, and I’m the one who journals to try to get past that. And I always do.

Eventually.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Just in the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot in the way of promotion.

I’ve started a Facebook page and have opened a twitter account. Readers can find me at http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille and at https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille

Also, I’m very happy to announce that my web site was completely revamped and I’ve added a blog. Readers can find me there at http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com

Right now, it’s too early to tell which is the most effective means of promotion. I do know that I’m enjoying all of them.

And though I’m not as chatty as readers might think from the length of this interview, I do respond to comments regularly and post the latest info about my writing life.

What do we have to look forward to next?

My fourth Harlequin American Romance, A RANCHER’S PRIDE, will be out in May, 2011.

This is the story of ranch owner Sam Robertson, who unexpectedly is given the care of the four-year-old daughter he hasn’t seen since infancy—the daughter he can’t communicate with because she’s deaf and speaks only in sign language.

Sam meets his match in Kayla Ward, his daughter’s aunt, who has virtually raised the child and is determined to adopt her niece.

Then a local judge orders Sam and Kayla to join forces to provide a stable environment for her, and each day they’re physically together forces them emotionally apart.

Sam wants more than anything to gain custody of the child he loves. Yet Kayla has a double edge—a longstanding relationship with his daughter and the communication skill he lacks.

Seeing father and daughter divided breaks Kayla’s heart. But teaching Sam to sign would give him the power to destroy her world and to take away the child she considers her own.

Thanks, Barbara!

My pleasure, Kim.

To celebrate her book release, Barbara is offering a free copy of one of her backlist books to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (Please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

Barbara works a day job but will be back with us later today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio.

Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing.

From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.

Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!

Check out author’s website at http://barbarawhitedaille.com

Buy http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=22428&cid=244

18 comments:

Kim Watters said...

Good morning Barbara. Thanks for joining us today. I got a late start this morning so your chocolate will e ready in a few minutes. I love category romances for the exact same reasons you do. That's probably why I write them, too. Can't wait to get my hands on yours. I know you're at work today, but have fun anyway. It's Friday!

Barbara White Daille said...

Good morning to you, too, Kim! I'm eagerly awaiting my chocolate. ;-)))

Thanks again for interviewing me here at the blog.

I hope you enjoy FAMILY MATTERS.

And, yes, I'm glad it's Friday!

To readers:

Thanks for stopping by. I'm sorry to be absent during the day, but I'll be back here in late afternoon through the rest of the evening and will be around on the weekend, too.

Please feel free to leave comments, questions, etc., and I'll respond as soon as the day job is done.

Talk to you later!

Barbara

Linda Andrews said...

Hi Barbara,

Coming from a very large family myself I can appreciate the situations your hero and heroine will face. What made you chose an amusement park?

Linda

Author Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Barbara! So great to have you here at MCTT. Your book sounds wonderful, I have to say I love the cast of characters. Looking forward to reading it!

Edie Ramer said...

Barbara, I love it that both of your protagonists are doing the right thing that puts them in conflict. The reader has to be rooting for both of them. What an awesome conflict. And they both sound like such great characters!

I'm looking forward to reading this!

Amy Atwell said...

Barbara,

This is such a rich and full story (I'm a lucky one who has already read it). And I agree, the character of J.J. is a truly vital member of the story's cast.

Mary Marvella said...

Barbara, you have been one busy lady. I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I love books about families!

liana laverentz said...

Hi, Barbara,

It's Liana, from PW. Good to see you here and congratulations on your newest release! Enjoy your blog tour...

Estella said...

Your book sounds like a very enjoyable read, with a lively cast of characters!

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Linda,

I thought first of having the characters purchase property, for two reasons. The heroine's uncle needed to do something that could look like a scam. And the residents of the community needed to pool their resources so they would all be at risk together.

Then, I wanted to do something a little different and a lot of fun, and I came up with the amusement park. I'm glad readers like the idea as much as I did!

Thanks for asking.

Barbara

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Kathryne,

I'm very happy to be here! Thanks so much.

I hope you enjoy FAMILY MATTERS.

Barbara

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Edie, author of Cattitude!

-- Promo alert, guys: Edie is celebrating her first release this very week. A wonderful book, especially for cat lovers. ;-) --

Edie, thanks so much for the comment. I will confess conflict is a tough element for me, probably because I avoid it in real life. LOL

Hope you enjoy the book!

Barbara

Barbara White Daille said...

Amy - you're definitely one of the few who have seen this book in manuscript form.

Many thanks for speaking up in support of J.J. I'm glad I got to keep him.

Barbara

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Mary,

Yes, busy and going to get busier! But that's fine. Our books are like our kids, aren't they? They need plenty of attention. LOL

As you mentioned liking books about families, I hope you enjoy mine. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Barbara

Barbara White Daille said...

Liana - hi! Terrific to "see" you, too.

This is the first stop on the book tour, and it's been great so far. I appreciate everyone taking the time to visit the blog and to comment.

Thanks for the congrats!

Barbara

Barbara White Daille said...

Estella - thanks for the compliment! Very much appreciated.

Barbara

Tina LaVon said...

I love your books!
Thanks so much for stopping by MCTT!

Barbara White Daille said...

Aww, thanks, Tina! I appreciate that.

And I'm very happy to be here.

Barbara