Monday, May 23, 2016

Interview With Jane Carter Barrett

Author of Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore

1. What inspired you to write your book? After reading all I could find on Mary Queen of Scots, I found myself wishing that Mary had had a daughter. Consequently, I created Antonia Barclay. Antonia is Mary’s “should’ve-been” daughter, and her character more or less spontaneously combusted in my brain. Naturally, Antonía had to resemble Mary in some ways, and this is the reason for Antonía’s lofty stature, independent spirit, and aptitude for riding. However, for plot purposes, Antonía could not be a dead ringer in terms of appearance, and thus Antonía did not inherit her mother’s trademark red hair and amber eyes. So it’s not necessarily that I wanted Antonía to be Mary’s daughter, but rather I desperately wanted Mary to have a daughter, to have had a daughter. And at this juncture, you can probably tell that I have to remind myself that Antonía is not an authentic historical figure, merely a figment of my imagination, but imagining will always make her real to me. And, of course, there’s always the off chance that history got it wrong, that Mary really did have a daughter, and Antonía really did exist.

2. What is it about?  Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore is an offbeat “modern” historical romance with, I hope, plenty of irreverent fun and a lighthearted sense of humor. In 1586, Antonia Barclay embarks on a quest to find her real mother, Mary Queen of Scots, as well as the long-lost Scottish Royal Sceptre. Along the way, Sir Basil Throckmorton, a well-known villain and alchemist, kidnaps Antonia, scheming to use her to pave his way to the English throne. Breck Claymore, Antonia’s lover, is hot on her trail but if he fails to find her in time, she’ll be forced to wed Sir Basil, and both Scotland and England will fall under his control. Fortunately for the good guys, however, Antonia is a feisty and determined Scotswoman who refuses to wait around “to be saved” so she devises her own rescue plans. Although her plans don’t always unfold as originally intended, she’s fully prepared to go down with the ship if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? Tenacity, perseverance, and self-reliance are probably not personality traits that were desired, instilled, or encouraged in the sixteenth-century young woman. But Antonía doesn’t care one whit what others think of her or what is expected of someone of her gender and social class. She trusts herself and is secure in herself. No swooning, kowtowing, or boohooing for her. Antonía is a tough critical thinker who is often contrary to the point of being a pain in the neck, but that’s who she is and if the entire world knows it so much the better. Suffering fools gladly and squandering time are not her deals. She makes no apologies for being herself, and when she sets goals she sticks to them, despite the obstacles and her own limitations. But having spouted all that platitudinous wisdom, I hope readers simply enjoy escaping to another time and place.

4. What advice do you have for writers? The best advice I’ve read on writing comes from a confluence of two authors’ thoughts on the subject. James Dickey (paraphrasing): “Write with all the passion and power you have, and don’t worry about how many words and minutes it takes,” and William Goldman: "It ain't about inspiration. It's about going into a room alone and doing it." Best advice on rejection letters and reviews: no matter how hard you try, you’ll never please everyone.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Since this is my first foray into publishing, I’m certainly not in a position to predict the future of the industry. At my first meeting with my publisher, I remember almost falling out of my chair when he told me that four thousand books are published every day! However, I’ll take a stab at an answer and say that with the advent of e-publishing and other forms of self-publishing, it seems highly likely that publishing will become an even more digitalized business. It also seems likely that the editing process will also become more digitalized with the increased use of autocorrect. Although this will reduce spelling and grammatical errors, human input will still be required for contextual purposes.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?  My biggest, and I mean colossal, weakness was moving my characters around in the story. Physically moving and relocating people from outdoors to indoors, from the kitchen to the dining room, from the horse to the ground, from the castle to the pond, from the chair to the window, etc.…. I think you get the picture! Explaining, describing and then remembering where all my characters were geographically situated in the plot was a lot of work and often torturous for me, particularly in scenes involving multiple characters. In addition, and in general, I seem to get muddled in the minutiae of grammar very easily and have a bad habit of overworking phrases and editing my work to death, instead of just letting it flow. Most times, the first way you phrase something is the best.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? If people can only buy one book this month and they’re in the market for a fast paced historical romance written in a breezy, over-the-top, and out-of-the-box style, then I’d say “Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore” is the book for them!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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