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Barbara Briggs Ward grew up in the country surrounded by relatives and a backdrop made for inspiring a young imagination. Barbara and her cousins were constantly playing in their chicken coop clubhouse filled with the remains of an abandoned one-room schoolhouse. It was in that clubhouse where Barbara read her favorite authors including Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder – and began writing her own little stories. When her grandfather made her “most favorite Christmas present ever” – a simple pine desk with a single drawer which held a pad of lined paper and a #2 pencil – Barbara knew she wanted to be a writer.
Barbara began writing for children, having been published in Highlights for Children and http://www.storiesforchildrenmagazine.org. She is the author/illustrator of the Snarly Sally picture book series.
Barbara’s writing took a turn when in October, 2011, she published “The Reindeer Keeper” – a heartwarming story of Family & Christmas honored as a Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Recipient in Adult Fiction, May 2011.
In December, 2011 Barbara’s ekindle book, “Over Coffee”, was published by Astraea Press. Her short story, Sleigh Bells Ring Again”, was included in “Christmas Warmth” an ekindle anthology of Christmas stories.
Barbara’s story, In Anticipation of Doll Beds” was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book, “Christmas Magic” October, 2010. In March, 2012 her short story, “A Brown Boy of Our Own” was included in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Family Caregivers.”
Hello! What’s your name?
Barbara Briggs Ward
What do you write and why?
I began writing short stories and children’s picture books. But once I faced my doubts that I couldn’t write something adults would enjoy, I sat down and wrote my first novella. After I’d finished, the experience of taking characters from the first page to the last and making everything connect and flow led me to realize I’d found my genre-adult fiction.
Do you read the same genre that you write? Why or why not?
Between a fulltime job and an adult child with special needs, the time I have left goes to my writing. When I do have spare time for reading I enjoy going back to some favorites like Little Women, Wind in the Willows, Anne of Green Gables.
What is the title you are promoting right now?
What is it about?
The Reindeer Keeper is a heartwarming Christmas story for adults tapping back into the feeling we all experienced of truly believing in Santa Claus while dealing with life as an adult. It centers about a family many readers can identify with and what happens when they are given the gift of an old farmhouse complete with 120 acres and a barn full of animals including a herd of reindeer tended to by an odd little man named Thomas. What happens that Christmas is most magical than anticipated as the couple welcomes their boys back home and realize an understanding never thought possible. It is who delivers this gift on Christmas Eve that gives them strength to face their greatest challenge.
What makes this book different from others in your genre?
One of the most common remarks I hear from readers is that the story mirrors life. It is not a sugar-coated, fairy tale feel good Christmas story. Rather it tells the story of an average couple who experience life the way we all do-with problems, challenges, laughter, happiness, joy, sadness, loss and still, throughout whatever life confronts them with-they experience a most wondrous Christmas.
What’s the story behind the story?
I think because my father was a funeral director I’ve been keenly aware of how beautiful the gift of another day really is. Another day-another minute offers another chance. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s obituaries as they chronicle what individuals did during their time on earth. The thought knowing when we began and not having control of the end date inspires me to make a difference; to take each day and live it to the fullest while along the way appreciate the little things.
The specific inspiration for The Reindeer Keeper was a snowfall on Christmas Eve. Watching big, beautiful snowflakes float by the window with Christmas lights muted in the distance filled me with an urge to write a story of the season for adults-entwining the wonder of Santa Claus we all once felt with real life we face every day. That’s all I knew when I sat down to write the story but as the words came out, the characters took over.
What is your goal as an author?
My goal is to continue writing adult fiction that will introduce readers to characters who share their lives through storylines that will leave the readers thinking about them long after the last page has been read.
Are you working on anything new? Give us a preview of what’s to come!
I am working on another Christmas story-a novel for adults titled The Snowman Maker. The story tells the story of Ellie and Ben. While they’ve had their share of problems they’ve always worked through them together. This time is different. Ellie can’t get a handle on Ben’s evasiveness over the past few months. Whatever is pulling Ben away, Ellie is convinced has something to do with the contents of an old, cardboard box given to Ben by his father. An architect, Ben’s built his career tending to details. Ellie fears the details discovered tell a story of his growing up unlike anything Ben had ever realized. But it’s Christmas-the season of wonder and the rekindling of spirit and love especially when a sleigh known as Santa’s Christmas sleigh driven by an old man who’d driven Ben in it years back on a Christmas Eve, takes Ben and Ellie down into the woods as the snow’s falling and the wind’s blowing-back to an abandoned summer camp where whatever was inside that cardboard box was created by a beautiful young girl who swam like a mermaid and caught the eye of many a young man. If ever a Christmas was wrapped in details it’s this Christmas as Ellie and Ben celebrate their most wondrous holiday season ever.
Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?
Louisa May Alcott Little Women
Where can readers find you and your work?
Amazon Barnes and Noble www.thereindeerkeeper.com
What’s your view on the self-publishing/traditional publishing thing? Ideally, which one would you prefer and why?
Self-publishing offers writers the opportunity to become authors. But with that I feel there needs to be taken seriously the responsibility of presenting readers with their very best work, meaning a professionally edited book. In the past, self-published books have been considered less worthy than those traditionally published. That’s why, as the numbers rise for self-published books, it is imperative that these books are the finest quality. There is truth in one bad apple spoils the pie.
Ideally I would love to be published in the traditional way. I would love to have a major publisher represent me and guide me and offer me advice backed by experience and wisdom acquired. But if that never happens, I will continue forging my own path, acquiring my own wisdom.
Do you have a favorite quote?
So Pretty Out-So Happy Out (My oldest daughter at age 4)
What is the most important advice you have for aspiring authors?
Understand your genre. Don’t give up. Use the internet as your agent. Don’t be afraid to delete everything you wrote the last time you sat down and start all over. Writing is a process-a long, lonely, and joyful journey.
Is there anything else you’d like to say before we finish up?
I invite your followers to visit my website-ww.thereindeerkeeper.com-where they can watch a book trailer, my interview at Mountain Lake PBS, read my blog, learn about the story, and check out what reviewers and readers are saying.
Awesome, thanks for allowing me to interview you!
Please take a moment to visit Barbara at the links below!