Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with kitty siblings Byron and Marigold, who are already running the house and causing havoc.
Anne works in a library, is an avid reader and watcher of a wide range of genres, and is constantly on the look-out for more hours in her day. She likes to write in series and even so called one shots seem to breed more plot bunnies. Her writing is like her reading – across a range of genres, although her favourites are paranormal, fantasy, SF, and historical. Music often plays a part in her stories and/or her characters are musicians.
She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Her books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.
Website & Blog—Drops of Ink: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/annebarwellauthor/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/annesbooksandbrews/
The Sleepless City:
J. Scott Coatsworth: Thanks so much, Anne, for joining me!
Anne Barwell: Thanks for hosting me.
JSC: Why did you choose to write MM paranormal romance? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
AB: I write what I enjoy reading, which is paranormal, fantasy, historical, and everything in between. I especially love books which combined a few genres, so my paranormal characters often have a mystery to solve, or become involved in a small-town romance.
As for balancing them, I write whatever characters are the more persistent, but like to change it up a bit. My most recent release, Double Exposure, is a mystery detective, romantic suspense paranormal, and my next, Postscript, is a small town, dual timeline, paranormal romance.
JSC: How long have you been writing?
AB: As long as I can remember. I started off with what would have been fanfic back in the 70s while waiting for a series to be written. The first thing I did when I got my first PC was hunt for fanfic sites, thought I can do this, and never looked back.
I wrote my first published book in 2005 while I was studying for my conjoint degree – it was my down time.
JSC: How long does it take you to write the first draft?
AB: Usually about 5 months, given that I have a day job. But during lockdown I wrote an entire first draft in 6-7 weeks because I actually had the time to sit and write each day, while still taking some time out.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to retirement from the day job. 5 years and counting.
JSC: Where do you like to write?
AB: I have a writing space set up on my kitchen table with my laptop and everything I need to grab like notebooks, reference notes etc.
I tend to multitask so I can cook dinner while I’m writing, and of course the kettle is nearby for the essential cups of tea.
JSC: What advice do you wish you’d had before releasing your first story?
AB: I wish I’d known more about promotion, and been able to self-publish right from the beginning. It would have saved a lot of work long term, given me more control, and I suspect, a better income.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for Double Exposure?
AB: Double Exposure is book 1 of Pōneke Shadows, a spin-off of The Sleepless City series I wrote with Elizabeth Noble. I wanted to relocate Ben and Simon to New Zealand and continue their adventures there as we need more paranormal stories set here. Given, Ben is from Wellington, it made sense that he’d want Simon to meet his family at some point.
I’d also been toying with a bad guy organisation, and wanted to set the series up as paranormal mystery detective.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
AB: Cody is going to be one of the MCs of book 2. He and Josh were together at the beginning of Double Exposure, but there is a lot of water under the bridge between them in that book including both of them finding out each other’s secrets. Cody still loves Josh but he’s going to have to prove it.
He’s also had everything he’s been brought up to believe ripped out from under him, so is trying to make sense of his life, and his past. Of course, he’s going to also become a bad guy target… because why make it easy?
JSC: What was the weirdest thing you had to Google for your story?
AB: How fire sprinkler systems work as I wanted to weaponise one.
JSC: Let’s talk to your characters for a minute – what’s it like to work for such a demanding writer?
Her Characters: We have an understanding. As long as we’re together at the end of the story, have our happy ending, and she doesn’t torture my Ben, I’ll forgive some of her other transgressions. Although in saying that there were a couple of scenes that crossed over that line a little too far this time.
She owes us. And I intend to collect at some point.
After all, once you invite a vampire in…
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
AB: My current WIP, Postscript, is booked into my editor for beginning of next month, with an aim to publish early next year.
A while ago I had the idea of an inherited bookshop and found letters from another time. Postscript has morphed into far more than that, with the bookshop being magical, and the small town being a haven for supernaturals and psychics.
The series will set around the town with the bookshop playing a part in each book. Book 1 is dual timeline, with part of it set before and after WWII, and sets up the premise. Book 2 will be set in present day, and book 3 around 1914.
Kedgetown Book 1
A magical bookshop holds the keys.
When Mason Chynoweth inherits an old house in small-town New Zealand, he hopes to discover what happened to his great-great uncle Lewis after he returned from the war in 1945. Mason’s first encounter with the property is thankfully reassuring—his sensitive psychic powers aren’t triggered and he has a calm sense of coming home.
Elijah Whittaker arrives in Kedgetown for an extended visit with his aunts. He’s quickly drawn to Mason and offers to help him try to find some answers in the dusty old house. It soon becomes clear that Mason is keeping secrets, but Elijah has a few secrets of his own. Like his closely guarded knowledge of the hidden supernatural world, and the fact that many of the townspeople are psi and supernaturals.
What is the connection between the house and Postscript, the town’s enigmatic bookshop? Mason’s glimpses of the past give some clues, but not enough to make sense of the puzzle.
When a hidden journal comes to light, the true story of Lewis’ journey is revealed, and his path and Mason and Elijah’s begin to intertwine.
And now for Anne’s new book: Double Exposure:
Vampires and werewolves live long lives. The Sleepless City saga might have ended but the story continues…
Someone is hunting supernaturals.
Vampire Simon Hawthorne and his human partner Ben Leyton’s plans for a peaceful holiday with family are hijacked by the New Zealand Supernatural Council.
Tensions are on the rise in Wellington. Supernatural councillors are disappearing. Werewolves are suspicious of anyone human or vampire. If they don’t work together, their enemy has already won.
And no one with a connection to the supernatural world is safe.
Rupert looked mildly affronted. “I am not in hiding. The council were trying to get me involved, and I make a point of not getting mixed up in their politics, whatever the cost, considering that cost is usually too high for anyone but them.”
“You’re hiding from the council?” Ben asked. “I can understand that. They hijacked Simon’s delivery at Auckland airport, then blackmailed him into helping them.”
“If this is supposed to surprise me, you’re a few centuries late with that titbit of information,” Rupert said. “I have yet to meet a council I enjoyed doing business with. Though there was that group of werewolves in rural Japan a couple of hundred years ago that—”
“Why are you here?” Simon cut Rupert off before he could start on one of his stories. Although neither he nor Marion would admit it, they shared a predilection for embellishing stories about their pasts.
Rupert fished a large envelope from his pocket and handed it to Simon. “This is the information I have, but it’s not a lot. They cover their tracks well, apart from that massacre in Brisbane nearly ten years ago. There is someone in Wellington who provides a safe haven to anyone in our community who asks for it. Nothing much happens in the area that Elard doesn’t know about. You should talk to him.”
“You’re not going to help?” Ben asked.
“Heavens, no.” Rupert raised an eyebrow. “At least Simon knows better than to ask that.”
“Rupert’s better at staying in the shadows and orchestrating things from afar. If we need help, I’m sure he’ll be there…” Simon glanced at Rupert. “… but only on his own terms. I’d ask him to join our team, but it would be a waste of time.”
“Totally a waste of time.” Rupert grinned and nodded towards both of them in turn. “Now, I must be off. I’ll be in touch. Watch yourselves, gentlemen. I don’t enjoy funerals.” He blurred towards the door. It opened, then closed behind him, and then he was gone.
“He’s kind of how I remember him, but not,” Ben said slowly.
“The not, would be because you didn’t know what he was then. He’s not hiding it now, though he’s never completely upfront about anything.” Simon emptied the envelope, took a pile of neatly typewritten sheets to read, and gave the rest to Ben to look through. “Rupert’s always had his own agenda. It’s how he’s managed to survive so long.”
“Uh-huh.” Ben shook the papers he held. “There’s something loose in here.” A small card fell to the floor. He picked it up and his eyes widened. “It’s a business card, so guessing it’s Elard’s.”
“And?” Simon asked, knowing there must be an ‘and’.
“He’s a Catholic priest.” Ben read the words on the card out loud. “Fr Elard Reith, St Ansgar’s Parish, Newtown. We help those who ask.” He groaned. “Oh great, I was hoping to avoid Uncle Martin while I was here.”
“Uncle Martin?” Simon asked. Ben had mentioned him once or twice, but he’d got the impression Ben’s father’s brother wasn’t that close to the rest of the family.
“Yeah. He lives across the road from St Ansgar’s and always acts like he knows stuff the rest of us don’t.”
“Perhaps he does.” Simon got up to pour some more tea.
“I hope not.” Ben didn’t look happy. “It’s starting to feel like however hard we try to keep my family out of all this, fate is making damn sure they keep barging in.”