Monday, July 3, 2006

The Book Bitches interview with Jill Barnett

Hi Jill! You probably don’t remember this but we’ve talked before. You were visiting FABB and you shared with everyone this great recipe of eggless Ceazar dressing. As much as I love eating, I’m a complete idiot when it comes to kitchen work. *shame* I remember you replied to my post, and I was ecstatic that I was actually talking to you!—Jill Barnett—author of Bewitching, one of my favorite romances ever—that I didn’t care I was embarrassing myself by discussing feta cheese, something I’m totally clueless about! LOL


Why would you ever be nervous? I’m just me. *g* That salad dressing is still everyone’s favorite.


I’m sure it is—it’s yummy! My mom loves it too. *g* So, how have you been? The last time we heard from you was four years ago when Sentimental Journey was published. I began worrying that you would never write again. *sniff* What have you been up to all these years?


One morning I said goodbye to my husband Chris and took our daughter to school. That night, a policeman stood at my door and told me Chris was dead, a moment so bleak I couldn’t have named a single emotion inside of me. I felt everything and nothing, and awoke more frightened than I have ever been.

But I looked at my child and powered forward, determined to make her life all we had wanted for her. I ran on sheer woman-power, mother-power. For the next few years, I lost everyone in family except my two sisters and my daughter. I had to be the anchor. I was pretty much punch-drunk and numb by then.

I’d had a ten year career writing funny, poignant books set in times long ago and was in the middle of a book with a character I’d given one of my husband’s charming and annoying traits. Finishing that book almost killed me.

Behind closed doors, I lived in a secret world of terror when for days I couldn’t write. To discover a character’s emotions, writers must dive into the most vulnerable places of the human heart, and I couldn’t get there. Then one day God and Fate opened a door.

My publisher changed my book format to hardcover, and asked if I wanted to write the same kind of story, or something else. I chose something else and that book was Sentimental Journey, the WWII novel that was out four years ago. Soon, my daughter was off to college, and out of the blue, I fell apart. Delayed reaction to grief.

Mornings I awoke grieving, and fell asleep exhausted by it. My stories were both fed and hampered by such incredible roller-coaster emotions. For me big questions now needed answers: What power is within those of us left behind? What happens when love is stolen away? How do you find the grace to rise above tragedy? Can you ever find some sense of peace? Is there any happiness in the future?

My work became about the darker moments in a life, a tough path for a lost writer like me. But
The Days of Summer is about that search for grace, a sense of peace, the power of love and forgiveness—how women can find happiness. By the end of the book, I had changed. Perhaps reading this book will change you, too. I don’t have the answers to all we have to face in our lifetimes, but I have the experience of a woman’s journey through some of the most difficult moments and choices many of us face.

I understand how life can reach up and hit you in the face. But I know somewhere exists a map, the human geography that allows you to find happiness inside a complex world. I hope women will read this book and celebrate the grace in life.


I’m so sorry, Jill. I didn’t know. :( Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your strength.

You are well-known for your humorous yet poignant historical romances, but you completely redefined yourself with Sentimental Journey, a story of love and loss set during the early days of WWII. Did you have a certain audience in mind when you wrote it?



Not really. I wrote the book as I saw my story, and one to appeal to everyone, male or female. I don’t think of the reader when I write my books. (How can you possibly make everyone happy?)

I write the books that are part of my vision and the kind of books I want to write and read. I write because I have something important to say about human beings, even in my romances there were important themes. And I can only do an idea once, so I want to give it my all and explore all the idea has to give and make each book special. You won’t get the same book from me. I am incapable of writing the same story.


Were you worried that your readers, used to your funny side, might be put off with the sudden change?


Well, you ask yourself if they will follow you. But there were some great dialogue exchanges between certain characters in that book as well as in The Days of Summer. Also, the books were more than just quirky-humor, and like you said, there was a strong sense of poignancy in my romances and that is still there in and always will be in anything I write. I write about people and their emotions.


As I’ve said, Bewitching is my favorite of all your books.


Yes. They will put that on my grave. *g*


Ohhh, I like that. *g* Hmm, wonder what they will put on mine? “Shameless Harlot?” Er, anyway, yes, Bewitching! Well, you can say that Scottish should be credited for broadening my reading material. Bewitching was the first paranormal-romance I read, and I enjoyed it so much I started reading more from the genre.

Actually, to be honest, I was quite skeptical in the beginning LOL. I mean, really, a witch? But then, oh, I just LOVED Scottish—she’s such a darling! The way she couldn’t control her powers had me in stitches, but even if there were a lot of accidents that happened to her (which she had caused anyway LOL), she never let those things put her down, she never gave up—and that just endeared her to me. What made you write about this book when at the time, I believe, the paranormal genre was neither popular nor successful?



I just had this great idea and thought it fit beautifully into the Regency time period, one that is now so overwritten I don’t know how readers can find the kind of stories they used to. Silly publishers.

My ideas are very commercial, but uniquely Jill Barnett. That hasn’t changed with the books I’m writing now. I received the best compliment the other day. Someone posted on a chat/blog that I was the only writer she, her sister, her mother, and her grandmother all read. Made me want to run out and write a gazillion more books. *g*


That’s not a bad idea. *g*


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24 comment(s):

Blogger Petra said...

Jill,

I am so sorry about your husband. I didn't know too...

I love this interview. Great job BBs.

7/03/2006 04:32:00 PM  

Anonymous Linka said...

Jill,
I had heard about your husband and I'm very sorry about what happened. I'm glad you're writing again though! And I've heard good things about your new book from a reader over at the JMBB. It's on my bookclub to buy list. Nice interview, Miss Harlot. :P

7/03/2006 04:54:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Jill, I too didn't know about what happened to your husband. :( I'm so sorry. I actually thought you've retired already after years of not writing. I'm really glad you're back.

Lovely interview BBs, and I'm looking forward to the second part.

7/03/2006 04:58:00 PM  

Blogger Serendipity said...

I kinda heard about the tragedy. I was always hoping she'll write more books. I believe that it wouldn't matter what genre, it's same writer, and it will be great.

It's like listening to James Earl Jones and Pickard. They have unbelievable voices, I could just listen to them read the phone book and it will be pure entertainment.

7/03/2006 05:05:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jill, I love your books and have really missed your writing. I pre-ordered The Days of Summer, and started reading it the second UPS delivered it. It's a wonderful story, I don't have enough words to tell you how in love I fell with the women in this book, especially Laurel and Cale is so dreamy! The relationship between all of them is so real.

I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good read =)

7/03/2006 05:12:00 PM  

Anonymous Lola Lovegood said...

Anonymous up there is me =P

7/03/2006 05:12:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis said...

I have yet to read Jill Barnett but this is such a good interview, so open and honest, that I will definitely try her books. BBs, I'm really looking forward to reading the second part.

So ladies, which book should I read first?

7/03/2006 05:47:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great interview. I love Jill Barnett's novels. :) Thank God she's writing again.

7/03/2006 07:04:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

Jordis, you should try Bewitching. That's a great Jill Barnett book to start with. It's sequel- Dreaming is my fave. :)

7/03/2006 07:48:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Jordis, as i've mentioned, BEWITCHING is my fave Barnett. Love love love that book! Also, it has this hilarious sequel DREAMING. Hellion, LOL. If you love funny books with witty dialogues and endearing characters, you'll love JB. :D

7/03/2006 07:52:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Jill,

The way you have expressed yourself regarding the painful issues that you have experienced reminds me why i love your books: so honest, so generous, without any pretenses. I remember after reading SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY I thought, why did Jill Barnett write this? What happened to the fun characters i so loved? But then, i didn't know. My heart goes for you.. You know, like Serendipity said, i will miss your funny books but your new ones i will still love.

You said, "How do you find the grace to rise above tragedy? Can you ever find some sense of peace?" I really hope you already find peace, or at least some semblance of it. But please know that your courage and grace inspire me.

7/03/2006 08:51:00 PM  

Anonymous Analisa said...

Jill, this reminds me of what you've written on your site after Sentimental Journey was released. I related with your flight so much because my dad was in WWII.

I'm really glad that you are back and writing again.

7/03/2006 09:13:00 PM  

Anonymous Ann said...

Jill, I am so sorry to hear about your husband. Your strength is an inspiration to all of us.

Thank you for bringing such joy to our lives with the words you write.

Wonderful interview, Harlot.

7/03/2006 09:19:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

Jill, I'm so sorry about your husband. I love when you said you ran on woman-power, mother-power. God bless you and your daughter.

Excellent interview, BBs.

7/03/2006 09:29:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Jill, thank you for sharing with us. I'm so sorry about your husband. (hugs)

BBs, lovely interview.

7/03/2006 10:01:00 PM  

Anonymous Claudia fm M'sia said...

Jill, loves your books esp Bewitching. Sorry though, to hear abt your husband. (BB, good job again!)

7/03/2006 10:29:00 PM  

Anonymous Roxanne said...

I have loved Mrs. Barnett's writing for years. Have enjoyed reading and re-reading her books many times. I used to be part of her bulletin board and then, I don't know what happened to it! I will check if it's back up =) Can't wait to get this new title. I can't afford the hardcover now, but if I win this one my problems will be solved =D if not, waiting for the paperback it is.

The interview was wonderful bitches.

Roxy

7/03/2006 10:35:00 PM  

Anonymous Die Hure said...

After reading the post I tried to find these book here but cannot. Especially that Betwitching because everyone likes it. Maybe they have other name for it in german. Does anyone know? I forgot to write the name of the author and only remembered the days of summer, because well, we are in the days of summer *laugh*

Mrs. Jill I am very sorry of your loss of your husband :( I have not read your books yet, but the book bitches always send me the right way and I've read many good books from them, and now you are in my to buy list.

7/03/2006 10:40:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Jill, thank you for your books which I've loved for years now. Thank you for being so courageous and sharing with us and for being such an inspiration. May I just say you reminded me how important it is to tell your loved ones how much you care every time you have the chance. Thank you for sharing with us about your pain and your generous spirit.

Hugs,
Danielle

7/03/2006 10:52:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

BBs, great interview as always.

Jordis, I recommend Wonderful, Wild and Wicked. It's Jill's medieval trilogy. Really good books. :)

7/03/2006 10:54:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Oh I agree with Danielle. Love the W series! Thud and Thwack LOL LOL They're so funny! :D

7/03/2006 11:02:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

Harlot, you forgot Old Gladdys. She's definitely one of my faves. What a hoot! Oh now I have to reread! LOL.

Bitches, thanks again for this interview. This one with Jill is my favorite so far. :)

7/03/2006 11:09:00 PM  

Blogger Rachel said...

Ms. Barnett, I'm so sorry about your husband. I know how hard it must be to lose someone you love especially when your world revolves around that person. You are a very courageous woman and I'm glad you decided to continue sharing with us your gift through your wonderful writing.

Lovely interview BBs.

7/03/2006 11:19:00 PM  

Blogger Aggie said...

Great I'view. I empathise with your loss Ms Barnett. I also lost my husband (suddenly) 10 yrs ago.
It's a hard place to come back from. Great that you have.

And yes Danielle, it is always good to tell your loved ones everyday, how much they mean to you. There are no 2nd chances.

Im looking forward to trying to get hold of some of these books.

7/04/2006 05:52:00 AM