Today we have another great author answering our questions: Barbara Winkes.
A psychologist/trauma counselor by training, Barbara left her native Germany to live with her wife in Québec City.
She loves to write suspense and romance with female protagonists who try to solve the puzzle of their love life, a murder case, or sometimes, both.
So far she has published four books: Autumn Leaves, Winter Storm, Secrets, Spring Fever.
As always, we start with some warm-up questions:
Coffee or tea?
Coffee is essential! I like tea for relaxing moments in the fall/winter, but coffee is for every day.
What puts you in a bad mood?
No coffee… Just kidding! I have a hard time dealing with ignorance and exclusion. I read a lot about politics, and often it would have been better not to go to the comment section. When the internet gets a little too much, I retreat and write. That always puts me in a better mood.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’m not sure about that. I think the archetype of a superhero makes for interesting stories, but I don’t think it takes a superpower to change the world. Unless that power is to switch off patriarchy–that, I would like.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
I guess since I live here now, Québec doesn’t count anymore. Paris would have to be on top of the list, because that’s where my wife and I met in person for the first time. I also love Italy. I first went on a school trip at the age of 17, and last year we spent a few days in Rome during our time in Europe. There are still some places on our wishlist that might end up high in the favorites.
Lindt, no doubt about it. However, Germany has a lot of good quality brands on the lower-priced end, so it depends on the occasion and availability. Here in Québec, Laura Sécord is pretty awesome. You see I have given this a lot of thought. 🙂
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Aside from the obvious (taking care of things for family, friends and oneself), there are causes we would love to help out in a big way, related to women’s and LGBT rights. Of course we all do what we can, but it would be awesome to talk big sums here. Also, finance a bunch of awesome movies and TV shows.
And now on to the writing-related stuff:
For how many years have you been writing now, and how did you come to it?
I’ve been making up stories even before I could write, started with little stories in elementary school, and went from there. A friend of mine introduced me to fanfiction around 2000, and I found so many high quality stories that I was intrigued, and I started writing in English more. Going back to my original characters was always the goal, and when I moved from Germany to Québec, I had the chance to go all the way.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
The characters come to me, most of the time randomly, and I sit down and write their story. It’s always been that way. As an adult and out lesbian, I feel very fortunate to be able to write the kind of stories I want to write, and to have found a publisher in Eternal Press that believes in those stories, no matter the genre or sexual orientation of the main characters. I love reading and writing about women characters who take control of their own lives.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
That’s hard to say. I learned from a few years of NaNoWriMo that I can do 50-70K words on a first draft in a month (a good month, that is). It can be everything from 2-4 months or longer, depending on the target/final word count, and the amount of research that goes into it. When I first signed with Eternal Press, I had a few possible submissions ready, and it was my goal to get ahead so I can now spend some more time on polshing other manuscripts and marketing. The writing never stops completely though.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
It depends…now, in the summer, things are a bit slower. My wife teaches English in businesses and for private persons, so we have found a comfortable schedule that allows us to be efficient with our work and spend time together. When it’s full on, I try to do at least 2K words a day. Sometimes I do it before noon, sometimes it takes longer depending on how well the story flows at that moment.
When and where do you write the most?
I am fortunate to have my own home office. Getting an early start in the morning is the best for me. I never really knew when I was still living in Germany and working two jobs. Back then, I did most writing on evenings and weekends. Having a clearly defined space and time is very helpful.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a pretty shy person who loves to hide out in her office and play with fictional people, but I am also a psychologist by training who is fascinated by the way real people tick. Sometimes that goes well together. Sometimes it clashes a bit.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
A bit more in some of them, less in others. I do have things in common with Callie, the writer, for sure. Marsha and Jessie from my thriller, Secrets, not so much, but I think of my characters as separate entities. I love them all equally. They feel real to me, and it’s the most amazing experience when readers feel about them that way, care about their stories. You made something up, and you find people who believe in the illusion you created? Priceless.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Writing through writer’s block, at a stage when you don’t feel like it, but do it anyway. Eventually, the connection snaps back into place, I know, but it’s definitely not the fun part. On the other hand, being able to do this is a privilege in the first place, and I try to remind myself of that when the characters don’t cooperate as I want them to.
What are you reading right now?
A mystery by Marie Laberge, of which there is a sequel waiting for me. My wife just finished Club Storyville by Riley LaShea, and I can’t wait to get my hands on that.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
Emotion. Drama. I love happy endings, but you need to root for those characters to be together, make it clear to the reader why it’s that pairing and nothing else.
What advice would you give new authors?
Don’t ever give up. Writer’s block, a so-so review, distractions, all of this doesn’t last. Write the next book. Write, period. Of course, everyone is different, and you have to figure out what works best for you (what time of the day to write, what type of publishing,…) which is also part of the job. When you submit to a publisher, read their guidelines carefully. And don’t give up. There’s room for everyone.
What are you working on right now?
I have a current writing project, but at the moment I do more editing and polishing. There’s the sequel to Amber Alert (see below) and another standalone novel. My trusted beta is actually working on a vampire story for me.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
After Spring Fever (the third in the series about Callie and Rebecca), there’ll be some more titles with Eternal Press over the next 18 months or so: The Interpretation of Love and The Truth (a standalone romance), Amber Alert (book 1 in a mystery series), Open Spaces (an erotic romance, which is a bit of a first time for me), Summer Wine (the sequel to Spring Fever and last part in the series) and Cypher, a dystopian novel. I am excited to share all of those stories eventually.
Thank you so much for answering our questions!
You can learn more about Barbara and her stories on her blog, her Facebook page, and Goodreads.