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Interview with Robert Barclay, author of If Wishes Were Horses

Posted by inkpopbecki on February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day! When trying to decide what to do for this great day of love, we decided to bring you an interview with a new author whose book is said to be like Nicholas Sparks meets The Horse Whisperer. Our hearts jut melted when we read If Wishes Were Horses. Just for fun we’re giving you a chance to win a free copy of this book. Just leave a comment. We’ll randomly select two commenters to receive a free copy of If Wishes Were Horses.

Q: Writing was a lifelong ambition for you. What finally propelled you to sit down and write If Wishes Were Horses?

Robert Barclay: After I sold my businesses in New York, I moved to Florida.  I had always wanted to write a novel of some kind, and my wife, Joyce, suggested that I do it.  She said something like:  “Okay, big shot.  Now you’ve got the money and time, so go and write your book!”  So it came in the form of a challenge that I couldn’t refuse!  She’s my rock, that one.  Many folks who know us call her “my better two-thirds”!

Q: Your wife, Joyce, is a practicing psychologist, and she too suffered a tragedy similar to the plot of your novel. Did that make it easier to write—or more difficult?

RB: Both, I would say.  Joyce lost her younger son to a drunk driver.  Sadly, I witnessed the true pain and sorrow of someone who was actually going through it.   That meant I could both write about it with a greater sense of reality, but it also forced me to watch Joyce endure the most difficult period of her life.  From that terrible reality came the idea of Wyatt losing his family.  I only hope that I conveyed it well.

Q: You revealed that much of the novel is drawn from your own past. Can you share with us one or two examples from the book in which a situation in your own life inspired a part of the story? How do you as an author balance your own experiences with your fictional narrative? Were there ever times that you thought you had to change something because it was too close?

RB: Because Wyatt lost his wife and son on his birthday, he finds it impossible to take the blessings during his weekly church service, which is a celebration of blessings, anniversaries, etc.  Instead of participating, he always leaves the church just as the priest commences it.  The inspiration for this came about while I was in church one Sunday.  As the priest called for people to come and take the blessings, I saw a man of about my age rise from his pew and head for the aisle.  Rather than heading for the sanctuary, however, with his head hung low he gave some cash to one of the ushers, and he quietly departed the church.  Although I never saw him again, I knew that his tale had to be an interesting one.  That became the inspiration for Wyatt’s inability to remain in church during the blessings.  Seeing that unknown man leave the church seemed so poignant, and it rang so true, that I knew I wanted to use the occasion in my book.

And yes—novelists must do their best to balance their fictions with their own, true-life experiences.  The secret, I think, is letting your life experiences get close to the storyline—but not so close that you are actually recreating them onto the written page.  If the writer falls into that trap, he or she will begin telling the story of their lives, rather than those of the characters.  Plus, every new tale will smack too loudly of the preceding one.  Personal experiences are highly useful.  But no matter how enticing they might be, they should be used only as a guideline, and nothing more.

Q: Equine Therapy is a central part of the story. Why did you decide to focus on this type of therapy versus another? Based on your research, do you think this type of treatment is effective for troubled teens?

RB: I had heard of equine therapy, and what little I knew about it at the time seemed like a good premise around which to wind a love story.  As I did the research and interviewed people who actually ran such programs, I realized that not only was it an effective form of therapy for troubled teens, but that it could also be incorporated into a ranch setting, which might make the novel more interesting.  Plus, I set the book in Florida, which is not usually the first state that comes to mind when people think about horses, or horse ranches.

Q: You have several very strong female protagonists in this story: Gabby, Aunt Lou, and Mercy. As a male writer, do you find it hard to capture the voice for your female protagonists? Explain.

RB: I very much enjoy writing female characters, but they’re tricky to do well.    Women can be so emotionally guarded one moment, and yet become so vulnerable only moments later.  I think that’s what writers of either gender need to better understand. For the most part, I think, men tend to think and act decisively, in straight lines.  Things are far more black and white for them.  Women, on the other hand, tend to think more before acting, and they seek deeper meaning in both the words they say, and the ones they hear.   Which by the way is a good thing, I think.  I truly do believe that if women ran the world, there would be fewer wars.

Q: How have your family and friends reacted to your success as a novelist? What has the experience been like for you?

RB: My family was amazingly supportive about my writing a book, especially when one considers how difficult it is to be published.  Frankly, I was shocked to learn not only that the book had sold, but to also learn how much support it is being given by my publisher, HarperCollins.  Everyone—including myself—is eagerly awaiting February 15th, the day the book hits the shelves.

Q: What writers have influenced your work? Which writers do you admire and what are you currently reading?

RB: As a kid, I very much enjoyed Ian Fleming and Mickey Spillane.  Tough-guy spy stuff, things like that.  In fact, I spent a lot of time wondering who would win the fight if James Bond went up against Mike Hammer, but I never did figure that one out!  Later on my tastes matured, and I read all kinds of things now.  Lately, I‘ve taken to gobbling up biographies.  My all-time favorite is, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, which is Errol Flynn’s autobiography.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie.  Right now, I’m in the middle of a fascinating one called, The Last of the Playboys, which is a detailed account of the life of Porfirio Rubirosa.  It was Rubirosa’s amazing life that inspired Harold Robbins to write The Adventures, and a film was made of Robbins’s book.  If you’re looking for a highly interesting read, I suggest them both.

Like this post? Interested in reading If Wishes Were Horses? Leave a comment and win a chance to receive a free copy of this book.

Posted in Inside the Mind | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

inkpop Fundamentals: May 25, 2010

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on May 25, 2010

We’re off to see the wizard Since their release in June of 1997, readers and non-readers alike have found themselves sucked into the vortex known as the world of Harry Potter. The seven-book series has been devoured over and over again by fans; allowing them to find themselves lost in the land of Hogwarts amidst Harry, Ron, Hermione, and a slew of other characters. Come June 18, 2010, however, fans will no longer have to use their imaginations to be a part of the Wizarding World. They need only stop at Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort to experience the magic firsthand. Visitors will have the opportunity to break bread at The Three Broomsticks; savor butterbeer at The Hog’s Head Pub; choose a wand at Ollivander’s; take a ride upon the Dragon Challenge – a twin, high-speed rollercoaster – and so much more! MTV.

I read; therefore, I draw The Neverending Story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Hobbit, Sabriel…chances are that your childhood was a whirlwind of afternoons spent lazing about your front porch hungrily reading many of these titles. Now you have the chance to see the words you adore so much transformed into art by some of the best illustrators in the biz! Picture Book Report is an ode to books which consists of drawings posted on a daily basis depicting scenes from your favorite forms of fiction, created by fifteen amazing illustrators – including Laura Park and Lucy Knisley. Pop Candy.

‘The Perks’ to light up the big screen! Stephen Chbosky made jaws drop when he released his debut novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower back in 1999. Though the novel was quickly banned from several schools, and even found itself in the midst of controversy via its inclusion in both the 2006 and 2008 American Library Association’s 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books Lists; it retained massive popularity with readers. Now the book is set to hit the big screen with Emma Watson in talks to play the female lead – Sam – and Logan Lerman up to possibly play the male protagonist known as Charlie. Fans will be happy to know that Chbosky not only wrote the script for the film; but will be directing it, as well. MTV.

Over to you…will you be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when it opens? What attraction are you most looking forward to and why? What do you think of Picture Book Report? Is there a book you would love to see adapted into art – which one and why? What do you think of a film version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Do you think Emma Watson and Logan Lerman are good candidates for the lead roles?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

Posted in inkpop Fundamentals, inkpop News, Teen Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

inkpopper of the Week: hotchilly

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on May 17, 2010

“I have a dog – a white German Shepherd named Bella, who’s nearing five and weighs over a hundred pounds. She lives for a good game of fetch. I live in Florida, where, if you’re thirsty, you can just go outside and gulp some air thanks to the massive amounts of humidity. I’ve been photoshopping for several years, and I’ve done some web design. Wink wink, inkpop, nudge nudge. Also, I can’t dance. My next inkpop project, the one I’m slowly retiring the runway for, will be about superheroes. Repetitive words, like ‘mimosa,’ annoy me.”

On that note, it’s easy to see that Danny, aka hotchilly, is full of observations regarding his surroundings that many would carelessly overlook (as visible through his thoughts on the sunshine state known as Florida), in addition to humorous idiosyncrasies – two extremely important things that have made his work a force to be reckoned with right here on inkpop.

Not only is Danny responsible for creating the “movie poster” for MIC’s Shadow Watchers; he is also the author of Model Night, a project which is currently ranked as # 75, and brings a splash of paranormal phenomena to the fashion industry and modeling world. Subjects that, oddly enough, he isn’t highly-experienced with.

Your book Model Night revolves quite a bit around models and the fashion industry. In your synopsis you state that “being soulless is a job requirement.” Is that how you feel about models and the fashion industry, in general, or is that thought/idea specific to your book which deals with zombies, the undead, etc.? What made you want to use the fashion industry/models as the topic for a book?

Danny: As with anything else that I don’t understand, I have nothing but respect for the fashion industry. Actually, I kind of think that the industry gets a bum rap. Sure, it fosters unrealistic body expectations, and a lot of people suffer from that – but I think that just means we need to work on boosting our society’s self-confidence levels as a whole. Fashion is an art, after all, like writing.

I used the industry/models as a topic for my book because I love the juxtaposition of what we think should be beautiful against what isn’t (flesh eating monsters). Also, the idea of some chick in a million dollar ball gown tackling someone so she can grab a bite to eat is hilarious.

Judging from the brief biography on your profile page, you seem very interested in music. If you had to create a soundtrack for Model Night what songs would you include and why?

D: I love music! Model Night was, for me, a side-project to get my mind off of another book that I was stuck on. I wanted it to be campy and fun first, with realism and some romance thrown in to counterbalance all the craziness. As a result, I ended up listening to Vampire Weekend and MGMT a lot. Particularly towards the end of the piece, when my characters are parachuting off of a Manhattan skyscraper, I listened to Time to Pretend by MGMT on loop. Oh, and when two of my characters got a little steamy in a stairwell, I listened to Lights On by The Pierces and All the Right Moves by OneRepublic.

Other sources of inspiration came via The Killers and Phoenix. Anything alternative with synth, really – what I imagined would work if played on a runway.

What are your crazy writing quirks? What do you need in order to get inspired and kick yourself into the mood to write?

D: Weirdly enough, unless I’m writing something that’s going to be emotional-overload, I need my writing space to be absolutely silent. Music affects me too much, and then whatever chapter I’m working on comes out crazy and bipolar, its mood shifting whenever the song changes. For inspiration, I can either go take a shower or Google something really specific. For Model Night, I went and Googled the most expensive men’s perfumes – Clive Christian No. 1, if you’re wondering – and then attributed it to a ghostie (since they’re all rich). What came out of it was this really kick-a fight scene.

Another weird quirk is that I forbid myself to plan the ending of my book before I get to it. I’m bad with relationships, so if I know how my book is going to turn out, I get really bored of it and just leave. So saving the end until the end is kind of like my promise for monogamy. Also, once I get there, it’s a million times more satisfying, and then I get to go back and edit some foreshadowing in, etc.

If you could be absolutely anything in life (career-wise), what would you be and why?

D: An anthropologist. Imagine, for a moment, getting paid to travel into foreign cultures – to take pictures, write journals, observe and immerse yourself in a world completely exotic. Perfect, right? Most people confuse anthropology with archaeology or they write it off as limited to bones and dead people. Nope, there’s cultural anthro, linguistic, evolutional… I’d want to work with cultural religions and linguistics, personally.

I actually want to do this so much that… I will, haha. Even if it isn’t lucrative, I was always taught by my parents to put contentment before money and choose a career that I’m happy in. Will do, padres.

If you were to recommend ONE book that you feel everyone should read at some point in their lives, what would it be and why?

D: Oh hey, thanks for asking me this impossible question! Haha. There are so many great books that I think everyone should read… I guess, though, if I’m to pick one, it’d be A Separate Peace by John Knowles. The way Knowles establishes the relationship between his characters is so real. Everything about it is, actually. A Separate Peace really is one of the best representations of adolescence I’ve ever seen; that uncomfortable feeling of everything changing, the irrational emotions. Just a good book, all around.

Pop, Pop, Pop! Rapid Fire Questions:

Favorite quote? Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. GB Shaw
Song you never get tired of? All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers.
New York City or Los Angeles? New York City! East coast!
Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni.
If you were granted three wishes from a genie what would you ask for? Uhh… Power to fly, ability to heal anyone of anything (including old age!), and unlimited money.

Over to you…who do you think should be the next inkpopper of the Week?

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

Posted in inkpop Interviews, inkpopper of the Week | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

inkpopper of the Week: Evie J

Posted by cat eyes & skinny jeans on May 10, 2010

“I’m a nineteen-year-old stuck in a twelve-year-old body, or at least that’s what everyone else seems to think. I still get into the movies as a kid. Hey, it saves money! I live with Dorothy in Kansas, but she has yet to take me to Oz or give me her slippers, and I find that incredibly rude considering I dressed up as her when I was four. And although I have a dog, he’s no Toto. He’s Snickers (AKA G Homie Dog) and my spoiled little child that messes with my grumpy cats, Gummi Bear and Hershey, who are both bigger than he is. Together, they’re always causing a ruckus. Only my turtle, Skittles, and the fish behave.

“When I’m not doing boring real-life stuff, on the computer, writing, or yelling at the animals to calm down, I’m reading, secretly hoping for a thunderstorm, or hanging with my family and watching a movie. I’m an OCD perfectionist down to the T, so everything better be where I put it, in color order, in even numbers, the food better smell good — if it stinks or smells weird, I’m not eating it; I’ve even turned down pizza! The best food in the world! — and you better hope your TV’s volume doesn’t have numbers, or I’ll harass you until it’s on a multiple of five. I’m ambidextrous, and think with both sides of my brain. And on top of all that, I’m always bouncing off the walls. Enthusiastic Evie: No need for sugar, she’s naturally hyper!”

As she needs to be. Though still in her teens; Evie J has accomplished more in her nineteen-years than many hope to accomplish in a lifetime – including having written six entire books, one of which (Revealing Colors) was an inkpop Top Pick, and a second (Lost Spirits: A Charmed Souls Novel) which is currently ranked as number one. Nevertheless, she’s nowhere near finished – thus the reason her naturally hyper personality is a complete necessity to reaching her goals and achieving her dreams.

You run an entire blog called Autumn Dreamer. What can people find on Autumn Dreamer? How do you find the time to keep up with inkpop, Autumn Dreamer, all of your different writing projects, school, and a social life?

Evie J: The time…oi, the time! I don’t know where it comes from. Honestly, I don’t. I surprise myself. However, it helps that my social life is almost non-existent and I’m not in school at the moment. The computer and writing appeal to me much more than going out with friends to the movies or whatnot – I’m not a social butterfly by any means. But if you were to ask anyone, they’d tell you I need to get out more. As for keeping up with the blog…phew…it’s hardly kept up like it used to be. It went downhill once inkpop entered my life, and once I started working more on my books.

Autumn Dreamer is just my personal website, where I have some writing samples, and where I keep my friends and others updated on my projects. I also share my book reviews – which have also been lacking thanks to this little addictive site called inkpop – and let people know what’s happening, and what’s not, of course, in my writing world. For my new projects, I put my book pitches and covers I make on there first, before I share them with anyone else. So, if you visit, you’ll find Rambling Evie talking about her books.

If Lost Spirits: A Charmed Souls Novel was made into a movie, what actors/actresses would you like to see star in it and why?

EJ: I think if Lost Spirits was a movie, I’d shoot my foot off. I’m not a fan of books-to-movies because there are so many now; Hollywood needs to get original. But if I ever allowed Hollywood to take it, they’d have to search the nation for the perfect actors/actresses. No one in Hollywood could pull off my characters. I don’t like when they put famous people in movies. Although, Sandra Bullock would have to be in it just because she’s amazing! Proud Bullock Fan right here!

What is your favorite place for thinking and why?

EJ: Outside. I love to sit outside and just think. It’s even better when no one’s around, and no cars are flying down the road. The birds, the wind, the leaves, everything. I just love it…until a bee comes along. I’m not friends with Mr. Bee. -_- Or Mr. Wasp. Or whatever those big, fat things are, you know, the ones that look like mutant flies?

You have written numerous books that are quite lengthy. Which is your favorite one to date, and why? What is it about that piece of work that not only makes it stand out from the rest of your projects, but makes you so proud, as well?

EJ: Oo, that’s a tough one. They all have a special place in my heart, as does everyone’s work. With my newer books that aren’t quite finished, I’m becoming more attached, so I might have a different answer to this in the future. Silent Screams (The Forbidden Bloods Series) was my first book, and I co-wrote it; Claudia was my first character and story. I wrote the second, Familiar Strangers, on my own, which was interesting and fun. Lost Spirits is one I don’t mind reading over and over. But Revealing Colors was my first solo book, so I’d have to go with that one.

Autumn just reminds me so much of myself in ways, and it’s so interesting to read her story – yes, my characters write their own stories; they talk to me – as I write. Even I don’t know all about Autumn, her gifts, and this mystery that’s unraveling. And that’s so exciting for me. All of my other books have their beginning, middle, and end because they’re single books, or books that don’t necessarily need a sequel, but Autumn’s story evolves over three books. And I won’t know how this story pans out until the very end. That’s also something I love with this series; it’s the kind where you need the sequel.

If you were to recommend one book that you feel everyone should read at some point in their lives, what would it be and why?

EJ: Gah, this is definitely a tough one. For YA, I’d have to say Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It was full of everything you look for in a book. It really leaves you thinking about everything. Life, friends, family. Any day could be your last. It’s definitely worth getting and taking a day to read it. After reading this, I felt like I should go back to all the other reviews I’ve given and take away a star.

Pop, Pop, Pop! Rapid Fire Questions:

What’s on your iPod? Will anyone hit me if I say I hardly ever listen to music? But my iPod only has showtunes, Glee, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, and other Broadway Stars. Oh, and Adam Lambert! Last time I listened to it, I listened to the first season of Glee.
Vanilla or chocolate? CHOCOLATE! Come on, now! Vanilla? No, no! Although, the only things I ever eat with those two choices is ice cream, and that’s rare. None of that cake crap. Blech.
Hidden talent? So, I sat here for ten minutes trying to figure out what my hidden talent is, but I think I finally have one! It’s not really hidden, but I’m super flexible. I used to be called Rubberband. I can bend any which way pretty much; like a contortionist. Although, it’s not that insane. I can’t fit inside a box or anything like that.
Favorite cartoon character? Angelica from Rugrats! I will never be too old for that show. I still tape old reruns. “You dumb babies!”
Favorite vacation spot? I’ve only been to Florida for vacation and New York City for a weekend, so I have to say…Australia! If I don’t get to go to Australia, like, right now, I’m going to go insane!

Over to you…who do you think should be the next inkpopper of the Week?

Erika (aka inkpoperika)

Posted in inkpop Interviews, inkpopper of the Week | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »