I first met the incredibly prolific artist and author Barbara Tarn through author and publisher, Janet Morris. The two of them had cooked up a plan to have Barbara interview as many of Janet’s Perseid Press writers as possible, especially those who write for her Heroes in Hell series. So Barbara put me in the hot seat, grilled me over and over again with some tough and interesting questions, and then posted the interview as part of her "Sunday Surprise" segments on her Creative Barbwire blog: https://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/sunday-surprise-108/
(The above link where you can find my interview, forever frozen in the tundra known as the internet. Barbara did an excellent job and her website in fantastic!)
So now it’s my turn to give Barbara the “third degree,” but before we begin with the interrogation, let her first plead her case, in her own words:
Barbara G. Tarn had an intense life in the Middle-Ages that stuck to her through the centuries. She prefers swords to guns, long gowns to mini-skirts, and even though she buried the warrior woman, she deplores the death of knights in shining chainmail. She likes to think her condo apartment is a medieval castle, unfortunately lacking a dungeon to throw noisy neighbors and naughty colleagues in. Also known as the Lady with the Unicorns, these days she prefers to add a touch of fantasy to all her stories, past and present – when she’s not wandering on her fantasy world of Silvery Earth or in her Star Minds futuristic universe. She’s a writer, sometimes artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller. Two of her stories received an Honorable Mention at the Writers of the Future contest. She writes, draws, ignores her day job, and blogs at: http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com.
Now let’s begin, shall we?
What and who are some of your influences and inspirations?
I was never a strong reader and grew up with Franco-Belgian comics, hence my influences were mostly visual. That's why when I started writing in English I wrote spec screenplays. Luckily I soon figured out where my true call is and went back to prose. I'm only recently following online craft courses, but I've been writing since 1978, simply because I wanted to tell stories. Okay, my very first influence was the late Brunella Gasperini. Then I discovered David Eddings, Jennifer Robertson and all those fantasy writers and I was lost forever! ;)
So how and why did you decide to start writing?
I was 13, uprooted from a country I'd been living in for 5 years, and hated everybody around me. Of course I'd seek refuge in stories... I always had a wild imagination and in the summer of 1978 I started writing it down.
What genres and/or literary style do enjoy writing in the most?
SFF, especially lately that I don't like our world much. But having learned the worth of research, I also like writing about history – and I mean History, not last century. I prefer the Middle Ages (they cover 1000 years after all), but I'm slowly dabbling into the ancient world and coming to the present with my vampires through the centuries.
Tell us about your latest published book, short story or novella.
The latest is Quests Volume 1: The Paths of Water and Air. It includes the Path of Water and the Path of Air, since they're sorta kinda related. All the Silvery Earth books can be read as standalone, but these two are tied by a secondary character in Water who is the mother of the protagonist of Air that happens fifteen years later. Both deal with inner quests about oneself and one's place in the world.
The Path of Water
Hinrik survives the battle outside the walls of Moriana, battered and hurt. He drags himself to the River Ondan to put an end to his misery. But it’s just the beginning of a new life of discoveries about himself and the world, a quest for his true calling in life. He is a half-blood and must learn what it means with the help of Bellinda the healer and Keneith the magic user.
The warrior, the healer and the magic user are all outsiders or outcasts looking for a place to call home in a hostile world, away from the aggressively expanding Varian and Blackmore Kingdoms.
A story of the northern kingdoms of Silvery Earth with magic and pain, loss and rebirth.
The Path of Air
Sayla is the best archer of her hometown, thanks also to her keen eyesight that allows her to see the Sila flying over, too distant for normal Human eyes. When her maimed Sila mother hints to the fact that she was actually born with wings, she leaves her hometown to go looking for other winged beings and get in touch with her Sila blood.
A journey of self-discovery for Sayla and her best friend Keenan who is also madly in love with her and ready to do everything to give her back her wings. Eagles, hawks and other birds of prey help them along the way, until they discover the hidden past of Sayla’s parents. The north-east of Varia seen through the eyes of two young people leaving home for the first time.
Besides the “entertainment factor,” what do you strive for in your writing?
I write to entertain myself first, others hopefully. I don't really put themes or try to change the world – I'm writing about other worlds anyway, LOL!
Would you say your stories are more plot-driven or character-driven?
Character-driven. I usually follow the characters around. I don't outline, so, I have no idea of the plot when I start, unless I plan a quest – but they tend to do their own quest anyway (happened with the upcoming Path of Fire that didn't pan out as expected, but it's okay).
What can you tell us about your latest work(s) in progress?
Currently I'm adding a second point of view in the novella rejected by TOR so it can become a real short novel of Silvery Earth, then I'll write the sequel. Both are prequels to Kilig the Sword and deal with the Assassins' Guilds of Silvery Earth.
What are some literary goals you’d like to achieve?
Literary goals? I hate that word. I write because I have stories to write, because I want to entertain myself. I hope I find my core readers soon in the vast, immense sea of writers in this century, but I'm not trying to win any award or Nobel prize for literature...
What genre of fiction have you not yet written for, but plan to in the future?
A yaoi novel if I can get in the mood of writing sex again (currently I've toned it down to nothing), maybe a mystery, but I'd have to read some before attempting writing them, and my TBR pile is never ending.
Name a few of your favorite literary characters and tell us why they are your favorites?
Sorry, I don't have favorites...
What are some of your all-time favorite films and TV shows?
I stopped watching TV in the 1990s, so I'm stuck with 1960s and 1970s TV shows. And I watch too many movies from all over the world to make a list of favorites, it would be never ending... I have a bookshelf only for DVDs and it's full! :)
Tell us about your writing habits, such as: Do you outline extensively? Do you create your characters first, or your plot? Do you listen to music while writing, and if so, what kind?
No, I don't outline unless it's historical (or needs to fit into a specific timeline), then I'd jot down the events/years to remind myself what happened in another book/at the same time. I'm character-oriented, so of course the characters come first! And no, no music while I write, only while I draw. When I write, I only hear the voices in my head anyway! ;)
What else can you tell us about yourself and your reading habits?
I'm a very slow reader (since it tends to send me to sleep) and can't listen to audio books, because voices don't hold my attention like music does. So I still try to read 40-50 fiction books a year, but with the non-fiction research sometimes I don't make it. Since I started the indie publishing adventure, I read too many indie authors and sort of forgot what traditionally published authors felt like... but last year I had to re-read the Twins trilogy (Dragonlance Legends) by Weiss&Hickman and had a blast! All that so-forbidden head-hopping! Whoot! :)
Thank you for such a fun, interesting, and very insightful interview, Barbara. I enjoyed this, and I’m sure your fans will, too. Hopefully, this interview will bring you many, many more fans and readers.
--- Joe Bonadonna
You can find Barbara at any and all of these locations:
Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-G.Tarn/e/B0050P0R2G
Where to find everything: www.unicornproductionsbook.com