Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her most recent title, Laced With Magic, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries. Barbara lives in New Jersey with her husband but has many online homes. You can find her on her website www.barbarabretton.com, her personal blog http://bmafb.blogspot.com, her group knitting blog http://romancingtheyarn.blogspot.com and on Twitter and Facebook, both as BarbaraBretton.
Thank you for this interview, Barbara. Can you tell us what your latest book, Laced With Magic, is all about?
In the classic sitcom Bewitched, Samantha had to deny her magical powers in order to keep her mortal husband Darrin happy. All of that wonderful magic had to be bottled up and put on the shelf because grumpy, grouchy Darrin couldn’t deal with it.
Laced With Magic is Bewitched turned on its ear. In Sugar Maple, Vermont the women have all the power and they aren’t afraid to use it.
Knit shop owner and sorcerer’s daughter Chloe Hobbs felt the Fates finally got it right when she met the very human Luke MacKenzie. And no one could have convinced her otherwise—including the trolls, selkies, or spirits who also call Sugar Maple home. But then out of nowhere Luke’s ex-wife suddenly shows up, claiming to see the spirit of their daughter, Steffie—a daughter Chloe knew nothing about. In a town built on secrets, Chloe is shocked to discover that the man she loves has a few secrets of his own, secrets that can destroy Sugar Maple and everyone in it.
Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?
I never thought I’d reach the point where I didn’t know exactly how many novels I’d written but apparently I have. Don’t laugh but I went over to my website and counted up the novels (category, single title, and novella) and unless I missed one, Laced With Magic is number 49.
Want to know a secret? Number 49 was a whole lot harder to write than #1. I’m not sure how or why but each book is tougher than the one that came before it. Doctors grow more proficient with time and experience. So do dancers and athletes and lawyers and professors. Wouldn’t you think it would be the same for writers?
The funny thing is I thought I knew absolutely everything there was to know about writing when I sat down to write #1. I had total self-confidence and (wouldn’t you know it?) the words literally spilled onto the pages like magic. With each book I write, I discover how much there is to learn and how far I still have to go to write a “perfect” book. It’s a learning process and I love it.
How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
Writer’s block is probably the least talked about phenomenon in the business. You’ve probably met a writer or two who has declared in no uncertain terms that writer’s block doesn’t exist, that all a writer in trouble has to do is show up for work every day and the words will invariably come.
I’m all for showing up every day but, trust me, sometimes showing up isn’t enough. I’ve been through writer’s block twice and both times I came out the other side stronger and more eager to write. Life happens. As much as we’d like to control the real world the same way we control our fictional ones, we don’t have the power. Nobody has. Unfortunately, very often the first thing to suffer from these disruptions is our creativity.
Very often writer’s block is the result of allowing our world to narrow in on itself until there’s nothing but our imaginations and our computers. I know this sounds heretical but that’s not enough. You need to get away from the computer and out into the real world where you can soak up the sights and sounds and experiences that you can later spin into fictional gold.
How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
Laced With Magic is the second in an ongoing series called The Sugar Maple Chronicles and, as I write this, I’m still a week after from the publication date. I can tell you, however, that Publishers Weekly gave it their coveted starred review.
Casting Spells, the first book in the series, came out last October and the response (especially from knitters) has been overwhelming and extremely gratifying.
There’s nothing a writer likes to hear more than the magical words, “When’s your next book in the series coming out?”
What is your daily writing routine?
A: Would you believe me if I told you I don’t really have one? I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter and a seat-of-the-pants writer. I’ve read all about writers who show up to work in their office at nine every morning, eat lunch at their desk, then quit for the day at five but that’s not me. Not by a long shot. One of the best parts about being self-employed is saying goodbye to schedules and clocks. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not undisciplined. I get the job done. It’s just that I tend to get it done after the sun goes down and the rest of the world goes to sleep.
When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
I’m a loud, proud knitter whose stash of yarn stands higher than the national debt.
What book changed your life?
I would have to say that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith probably taught me more about great storytelling than anything I read before or since. She wrote about my city (New York) in a way that seemed real to me. Her characters were living, breathing, three-dimensional human beings with flaws I understood and sometimes shared. Betty Smith taught me that novels don’t have to be about wars or murders or the lives of the wealthy; novels can be about the lives we’re leading right now, the people we know and love, the beauty of our ordinary day-to-day existence. Betty Smith taught me about the power of emotional storytelling. She taught me that if you’re true to your characters’ hearts, the rest will follow.
If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
Survivor – I survived cancer when I was 29; publishing should be a piece of cake!
Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
I’m always taking notes!
Thank you for this interview, Barbara. I wish you much success on your latest release, Laced With Magic!
Watch Laced With Magic Video Trailer: