I am thrilled to have Fantasy Romance author, Barb DeLong with us today for an in-depth interview.
At what point in your life did you realize the writing bug had grabbed ahold of you? And which writers influenced you?
I was twelve and won my city’s “I love my daddy because…” contest. Twenty-five words or less, including the first part. I won a bicycle. At that time, I was a voracious reader of every horse book I could get my hands on, from Marguerite Henry’s Chincoteague Pony series to Enid Bagnold’s National Velvet. I was also a huge fan of every TV western, so started a western historical (later realized it was a romance) and my ninth grade English teacher started editing the pages. It’s a DNF.
The romance writing bug hit me about thirty years ago. I joined RWA, and my local Orange County Chapter had amazing published author members. My first influence in romance was Jill Marie Landis with her western historicals and then Madeline Baker (Amanda Ashley) for the same. You’d think I’d be writing WHR. Too much research. My early contemporary romance authors were Sandra Paul (loved her voice and humor) and Mindy Neff, who was a mentor of mine back in the day. In recent years, I’ve studied Kristan Higgins’ fun contemporary romances for character and humor. I discovered how much I loved fantasy/paranormal romance with authors like Jill Barnett (humor!), Nora Roberts’ witches series (character!), Darynda Jones’ Grave series (humor & edge!). I find something to take away in almost every book I read.
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Reading, of course, horseback riding whenever/wherever I can, watercolor painting, hanging with family.
What types of films and music do you enjoy?
Movies: Fantasy and sci-fi. I’m into the whole Marvel (Thor!) and Star Wars universes. Love romantic comedies and horror (huge fan of King and Koontz). Love action adventure.
Music: country western wall to wall
I’m into the Marvel universe as well as a fan of Stephen King. Do you have a specific writing ritual (like listening to music) and/or schedule you stick with?
I listen to epic fantasy music while I write, which is usually in the afternoon for three to four hours. I’m trying to delegate an hour or so in the morning only for e-mails, posting on social media, promo, etc., but those tasks seem to drift into my afternoon writing time.
What inspired you to write The Witch Whisperer?
Before I wrote my upcoming release The Witch Whisperer, my first fantasy romance novel, I wrote a paranormal called Charm’d (later Truly Charmed) that garnered some notice in unpublished contests. The question that kept nagging me with that book and other novels in the witch sub-genre I’d read (Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches aside) was what were witches really? Where did they come from or how did they come about? I wanted to explore that whole origins thing. The title The Witch Whisperer came to me while watching a replay of the movie The Horse Whisperer. The Witch Whisperer released on Jan. 30, 2023, and I’m so excited!
From all the characters you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
I love the title character in my current novel The Witch Whisperer, Never Ravenwood. He’s the wounded hero, flawed, a loner, over-burdened with guilt, yet compelled by an innate sense of goodness (and sentencing by the Bureau of Witchery) to fix any witches with broken magic that come for help on his dark web website. I found a picture of Chris Hemsworth’s character Billie Lee in the movie Bad Times at the El Royale, that I used to describe Nev in the book from the point of view of broken witch Willow—an “untidy tangle of a man” with bare chest and muscles and a snake tattoo. Thick tawny hair ran wild past his shoulders. I keep that picture of Chris taped to the wall next to my laptop. Sigh.
Do you allow your characters to dictate their paths or do you plot out everything?
They dictate their paths by the flaws, goals and motivations and ultimate character arcs I give them. Then I do a detailed plot outline so events, twists and turns and conflicts will lead eventually to the arcs and to a satisfying ending, whether they reach their original goals or not. I am no seat-of-the-pants writer. Charts and spreadsheets are my jam.
Does research play a big part in your writing schedule?
I usually do quite a bit of research before I start writing a new book. That includes finding and reading books in the genre that have a similar theme or setting or conflict. I find pictures of settings, characters, objects, etc. and save them to files on Scrivener. Once I begin the writing project, I’ll stop and hunt for some specific bit of info only if I need it in order for the scene to make sense or to set up something in the plot. Otherwise, I bookmark the spot and come back to it later. I have been known to go down deep, deep rabbit holes. I find lots of other writers down there.
Are there any other works in progress that you’d like to hint about?
The Witch Whisperer is book one in the Keepers of Magic series. I’m currently working on book two, The Keeper’s Code. I took a secondary character from The WW, powerful witch Ash Hunter, and made him the protagonist of book two. He’s a keeper of magic in my witch society that is desperate to keep their world-wide existence a secret. He’s adept at lying, can mesmerize at a touch, and wipe memories. Who better to partner him with than a beautiful investigative journalist with major trust issues and a killer witch stalking her.
If your favorite author (past or present) invited you for dinner to discuss writing, who would that be and what one question would you ask him/her?
Tough question. I think Kristan Higgins. I would ask her how to fight imposter syndrome and connected to that, how to determine when your novel is good enough to release into the world.
What wise words of wisdom would you give up-and-coming new writers?
Butt in chair is number one. Try to silence your inner editor while you get that first draft done. Share your writing with trusted critique partners, beta readers, and if possible, a professional editor. Edit, edit, edit. Then be ready to let it go. Perfection is unattainable. There’s no such thing.
Thank you so much, Barb, for your time.
To purchase The Witch Whisperer, please click here.
Here are just some of the Amazon 5-star reviews trickling in:
“Barb DeLong has creatively crafted an “other world” story for us—one that is whimsical, romantic, full of suspense, and relatable. Her light-hearted humor begins in the first two sentences and is sprinkled like magic dust throughout the fast-paced story.”
“The characters are unavoidable charming. Willow is relatable, likable, and real, except for the fact she has blue hands and healing powers. Handsome, dangerous, and sexy is the best way to describe the reclusive Never Ravenwood, aka, The Witch Whisperer. Highly recommend for a weekend read…because you won’t put it down until you get to the end.”
“The bags under my eyes are testament to how difficult it is to put the book down. Have read some great books recently, but haven’t ENJOYED one so much in a long time!”