Hello Mimi, what a pleasure to have you with us this morning. Why not sit back and relax in our cozy recliner. I see you are wearing the pink fuzzy coffee time slippers we always give our guests. Since you enjoy herbal tea, thought we would have some today. If your tea is not hot enough, just let me know and I will heat it up for you. Now that we are settled, let us get this interview started. The readers are eager to hear about Mimi Barbour and what she is up to with her stories.
Mimi, I hear you have some exciting news. Your first story, She’s Me was entered in The Garden Gate Historical Contest in November 2007 with Wild Rose, and I understand you received notification you had not followed the guidelines to enter the story. Yet, they were impressed with your story and wanted to see more. Wow, what was your first response when you read what they had to say?
Hummm – let’s see. The first word I yelled – rather loudly – you might even say hysterically was ‘No’ followed by an over-used swear word starting with S and ending with T. Then I ran up the hallway doing the conga and a few other gyrating moves and I believe by now my words were something like – I did it, I freaking did it! – That’s when my husband came running to perform whatever medical aid needed for my breakdown.
Now, not only do you have She’s Me, you also have He’s Her, as well as We’re One…this is really good news, congrats. Before I forget, I wanted to mention, I like your website and found it easy to navigate. The colors are very decorative, with the little yellow rose that pops up. Now back to your stories.
I, too, love my website and it’s all thanks to Rae Monet, the best website mistress out there. She looks after me so well and takes care of those technical glitches that we moron types don’t even know how to spell.
Yes, as soon as Wild Rose accepted She’s Me, the success went to my head and I started working on a second story pretty much with the same paranormal premise as the first. It flowed so easy that the third story We’re One soon followed. Another plus - my editor Nancy Swanson mentioned that if I was to write the third, and we had over 65,000 words they would put the three stories together into an Anthology and publish it in paperback. My stubby little fingers just flew over those keys. I so wanted to see my name on a physical book cover!
I loved the premise of each of the stories. I also like the diversity of each of your characters. Your stories have a way of telling stories that appear so life-like and real. When choosing your characters were any based on actual people or incidents that you have encountered in your life?
Thank you for the compliments. You are sweet, and might I say rather insightful~~! Actually, I don’t use people I know for my characters as much as I write about people I’d like to know. I try very hard not to preach when I write, but somehow I seem to get myself into a corner where a moral or a truth stares me in the face and I have no choice but to add it in. Let’s face it, when people have a challenge to meet and come away without learning some sort of lesson, then they haven’t succeeded and my characters always have something to overcome. Might take them a while and they might have to go through some conflicts and stuff, but they come out at the end better people for having made the journey.
Which of the stories would you say you enjoyed the most composing?
I’m going to answer this question the same way as most authors would. My favorite is the one I’m working on now called Together Again. It’s the fourth to the The Vicarage Bench series and I think it’s the best. Which is exactly what I thought with each story I wrote. My craft is getting stronger and it shows with each new book I work on, and since this next one is full length and will be coming out both in e-pub and in paperback, I wanted to make it better than all the rest.
Which of the male and female character did you enjoy the best molding into the storyline?
I guess I’d have to say Carrie and Rhett in He’s Her. My characters come alive to me while I write about their stories, and I could see Rhett so clearly. I’d used his name on purpose as the only description I’d need for my readers to see him as Clark Gable. From the first time I’d ever seen that man, he reminded me of my dad when he was young, and I always thought he was one of the most handsome men ever.
Where did you get the idea to write these stories?
Because, the first story She’s Me was to be the entry for Wild Rose Publisher’s ‘Through the Garden Gate contest’ there were certain guidelines. Of course, I didn’t follow them properly, but the ideas stemmed from their rules. I had the setting and the Vintage era period and the basic idea of the magic needed.
After you received your contract, what was the very first thing you did?
Read it - and then got my husband to read it, and then sent out a bragging e-mail to everyone I knew because I now had the proof that it wasn’t all a terrible mix-up or a hoax. I was really going to be published! Brought a little tear to my eye, I’ll confess that much, but you’ll never get me to admit that I planned a trip based on my royalties.
I heard you went to the National convention in Washington this year. Can you name three valuable things you learned from this event that you think others would benefit?
Okay! How did you know about the trip???
Yes, I did go to Washington and had one of the best times of my life to add to my memory files. I learned that I truly was an author because everyone I talked to gave me the respect I was too humble to expect from my friends. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that but I’ll try. When I first found out I was to be published, I’m sure my friends and family believed it to be a one-time shot. When the next book came out they didn’t know what to believe, but were all very proud of me. Remember they couldn’t hold anything in their hands and that matters a lot as a form of proof shall we say. But when I went to nationals and mixed with others who were working as hard as I was to attain the same goals, it was instant acceptance. To them, I was an author. Now I believe it also.
The second benefit to me and anyone else in my position is those wonderful workshops. The RWA board does a fantastic job in carefully choosing the presentations and setting them up so each time slot is filled with various choices and trust me, I went to as many of those programs as humanly possible. I want to learn to be better and what could be more appropriate than learning from those who’d traveled the road before me, people like Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Philips.
The third benefit is the networking. I went into the bar, approached a lady sitting alone with a glass of wine and her Kindle (something I’d never seen before as they aren’t too plentiful here in Canada yet), and asked her if she’d like company. Quite a corny phrase now that I think back, but she couldn’t have been more welcoming. We spent a lovely hour visiting, talking about our craft and getting to know one another. To me, that hotel wasn’t filled with strangers, just writers like me. People who were going through pretty much the same ups and downs I faced and could teach me about how they dealt. I came home loaded with bookmarks and business cards and a few new friends. Now what could be better than that?
If you could have only one wish, what would you wish for?
Other than world peace and end to global hunger you mean? Okay, I guess I’d love to know that something I wrote – some words that came from me – struck a chord in a reader, and helped them in some small way.
When you were living in Guinea, West Africa, what would you say was the most important lesson you learned while living there among the people?
My biggest lesson was to accept that most of the people living there were happy with their existence. (Remember Guinea was peaceful then and the people had food) They had lives, not like ours back home of course, but they grew up in villages - so had friends; they married - so had love and families and they celebrated many things like Ramadam and babies being born and weddings. We all accept what we can’t change and its human nature to make the best of our lot in life and they do it with a smile, music and dancing and a great deal of pride. I loved my time spent there.
If you had the opportunity to visit one of these three places for a whole month, which place would you choose, Australia, Japan, or England?
Since I’ve been to all three places, I can honestly say that I’d choose Japan. I was there the shortest time, only three days so it’s easy for me to pick this fascinating country. I’d love to know more about their culture and visit other places than just the Tokyo I saw forty years ago.
Do you have a certain television show that you cannot miss an episode of?
You got me! Now I have to admit that my favorite show is about a writer. Castle has to be it for me. He’s gorgeous, and I love the way they act out their feelings so well that we all know what’s happening, and I’m not talking the high drama bits. Everyone on that program has great acting ability, but their expressions make me laugh without any words having to be spoken. Could be good directing I guess, but for me the shows a winner.
Is there something in your refrigerator or kitchen cabinets that you must keep completely stocked on your shelves?
Right I was doing pretty well till now – trying not to sound my age or too countrified, but in all honesty I’ll have to admit that I have multi cans, boxes and packages of all kinds of herbal teas (sigh!!) and I drink every one of them. While I’m at my computer, those steaming cups are always beside me and some days, it’s my only exercise, going into the kitchen for refills.
You are in an elevator with a mother trying to quiet her baby, who out of the blue decides to have a temper tantrum, while her teenager continues texting on her cell phone, not offering her mother any help, when suddenly the elevator comes to a halt. What would you do to try to stay calm during the situation unfolding around you?
Ignore the situation - stay calm? Hell no – I’d use my winning smile and try to help settle the baby, wink at the teen in commiseration, and hope the mom knows that she’s with someone who’s been there – dun that herself.
If you love chocolate, what is your favorite chocolate dessert?
Chocolate – sorry! I’m probably the only woman in the world who’s allergic to chocolate. (dammm!) Now if we were talking marshmallows, I’d have to say at least half a bag. Oh, you want a dessert. Okay, I’ll tell you my very favorite is what I baked just last night for the coming holidays. Thank goodness I only make it over Christmas or I’d have a huge problem. It’s a Cherry Loaf to die for and if anyone wants the recipe, I can either post it here or on my website. It’s been passed down to me from my husband’s mother’s great aunt or some such thing and it’s what everyone in my family waits for every year.
What famous person would you love to help promote your book?
Nora Roberts. I went to her chat at the National convention and she’s a hoot! I agreed with her philosophies about writing and I think she’s one of the best.
Thank you Mimi, for sharing time with us today. I wish you the best with all your dazzling stories.
Thank you Cherokee. It’s been a real pleasure. Have a wonderful, warm and happy holiday and lots and lots of fun. Hugs to everyone!