Meet the Lady in Red – Barbara Barrett

Mentors

In my debut novel, The Sleepover Clause, it’s my heroine Aubrey’s sister, Jenna, who comes to her aid when Aubrey’s latest decorating project goes sour, and helps her get out of town while the owner’s fury dies down. Jenna sends her to Iowa, where the luxury motor coach for Jenna’s upcoming concert tour is being customized by the Brothers McKenna. (Warning: one of those brothers is the hero of this story and the other two might just show up in sequels.)

But Jenna no sooner provides Aubrey with a place to “hide out” than she immediately starts second-guessing her sister’s competency and ability to finish the interior in time. In fairness to Jenna, she has as much on her plate these days as her sister. Her husband recently left her, taking with him most of their financial resources. Their fourteen-year-old daughter, Paige, only knows that her parents are getting a divorce, and blames her mother for chasing her father out of the house. Though no supporter of her former husband, Jenna isn’t ready to disillusion her daughter where her father is concerned.

Jenna has also banked almost all her remaining resources on reviving her former career as a concert pianist in order to support herself and Paige. Paige resents the time her mother will be on the road away from her and wants to go live with her father, who is too caught up in his new life to take her in.

Though I’ve characterized my contemporary romance novels as “Romance at Work” – in this case, Aubrey’s assignment to finish the interior of Jenna motor coach while dealing with the Brothers McKenna – I also like to add family characters to my writing. The Sleepover Clause is rich with family members: Mitch’s two brothers, Aubrey’s sister, her niece, Paige, and we haven’t even discussed Aubrey and Jenna’s mother, the subject of another piece. And each of these four secondary characters brings their own unique personality, interests and problems to the table.

Given the fact that Jenna is nine years older than Aubrey and has a different father, they are as close as can be expected.  The Ying and Yang of their relationship adds to the book’s conflict, as Jenna both depends on Aubrey to employ her decorating talents to the fullest and yet doubts her ability to follow through. And Aubrey finds herself caught between defending her sister’s seemingly dictatorial actions to Paige and helping Jenna better understand her daughter’s teenage defiance.

I didn’t have to do much research to understand the Aubrey-Jenna dynamic. I have a sister myself. Peg is two years younger, so our early years were spent defining and rebelling against that older-younger sibling dynamic. Now, we live in different towns, pursue different lifestyles, and our own families are vastly different from each other. And yet, we share the same history, the same relatives, and the same aging mother we look out for.

Question: How do your siblings affect your adult life? If you’re a writer, how has having one or more siblings affected your writing?

Barbara Barrett can’t help being a bit schizo when it comes to her lifestyle, since she lives half the year in Florida (guess which season) and the other half in her home state of Iowa. She believes she has the best of both worlds, with visits to the Mouse in winter and her six grandchildren in summer. Although she has been writing romance fiction for several years, her debut novel, The Sleepover Clause, was just released this September by Crimson Romance. While she has refined her craft, she has also been active in RWA, particularly the Kiss of Death chapter (someday she’s going to start that cozy mystery series), chairing their annual conference planning committee for two years, including New York City.

Website: http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com

Twitter: @bbarrettbooks

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11 Comments

  1. My older sis has always been super supportive. She always encourages me in whatever writing project I’m working on. I look up to her so much.

    • Sonya, that’s neat to have an older sister you look up to. In my case, I’m the older sis by two years, but I’m very proud of my kid sister. She turned her life around and got out of a difficult domestic situation. (I told her to check out this blog today, so I hope she reads this. I probably don’t tell her that to her face often enough.)

      Barbara

  2. Thanks for the invitation to talk about my sister. I have a twin sister who is 4 minutes younger than me. Although we have our differences, we are extemely close and talk or text almost every day. I could write some pretty good stories about us!

    • I’m sure you could! You and your sister have a very unique relationship that I’m sure you treasure.

  3. I’m closer to my sisters the last few years than I’ve ever been.

    • Lynn, Funny isn’t it how the older we get, the closer we get. At least in most cases. I’m glad you’ve had that opportunity.

  4. I think my family turns up in all my books. The teasing, the ugliness, the love, always comes out in some place or other. I also find my best friend popping up from time to time. It’s fun to kill off her character and then tell her so that I can see her reaction! Best of luck with “The Sleepover Clause” and all your future writing, too.

    • MJ, Thanks for the good wishes. I like that you use your family in your writing. That’s interesting that you “kill off” your best friend’s character. How has she reacted? Has she turned to writing as well, as self-defense? My friends all want to have their names mentioned in my books, but I’m not sure how they might/will react when I actually start basing characters on them. The idea is in my head, I just haven’t figured out the entire plot yet.

      • Yeah, it can be tricky. You have to emphasize that, “this character is based on you, but isn’t you. I’ve exaggerated some of your qualities to make the story more interesting.” I’ve been lucky that my friends are good sports. In one of my books I took four or five of my friends and kind of put their traits, and life stories, into a blender to create my characters. One girl’s first date story tied to a character that clearly isn’t her, for example. I think it made for an interesting read.

  5. No sisters, but a younger brother. I can ask him would a man do this? and get some good feedback.

    • Jean, Thanks for stopping by. I’ve often wished I’d had a brother as well as a sister, not just for writing purposes, but to get a man’s view of the world. But my husband gives me some pretty good feedback.


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