#1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy talks inspiration, romance, and research, plus tells us about how the Callaways’ lives resemble her own… Below is an interview with the author, courtesy of Novel Publicity Book Tours.
What do you love most about being an author?
Being able to tell stories! I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child, and having a job that allows me to create my own worlds, characters and plots is a dream come true.
What first inspired you to write the Callaways? Where did you get the initial idea for the series?
I had wanted to write a family series for a while, and I wanted the family to be blended, just to make the dynamics a little more interesting. Jack Callaway was a widower with four small boys when he met Lynda Kane, a divorcee with two small girls. They fell in love, got married and had twins. The eight siblings are now adults and range in age between 35 and 25. I also wanted the Callaways to stand for something. So there’s a family tradition of “serve and protect”. All the kids are raised with the idea that they need to serve the community, to help others and to always protect the family as well as anyone else in trouble. And the Callaways always seem to find trouble, even when they’re not looking for it.
Which of the Callaway siblings is the most like you? How are the two of you similar?
There is a piece of me in every character that I write, which makes it impossible for me to ever pick a favorite. I do like Emma a lot, because she’s the one person in the family who has a close relationship with every sibling. She’s also independent, brave and loving, which are all great traits.
Your characters all have such fascinating jobs, and, in reading your novels, it feels like I’m right there with them. How do you perform your research in order to make careers such as a smoke jumper, homicide detective, or Coast Guard rescue pilot so authentic?
I’ve read quite a few nonfiction books and articles written by smoke jumpers, firefighters, cops, etc. And I have a writer friend who is also a police detective, so I often ask her for help with the more technical aspects. But what’s really fun about writing is discovering new things—so I love to write about people in careers I don’t know that much about. In THAT SUMMER NIGHT, one of the characters is tied into the pharmaceutical industry, and I had never written a book that delved into that area. I found some of the true whistleblower stories that I read in preparation for writing that book to be fascinating. I think enjoying research is probably a big part of being a successful writer. I was born with a curiosity and an imagination. Writing is a great outlet!
The Callaways all have such beautiful, unique love stories. How do you get in the mindset for writing them? Are any of their stories inspired, at least in part, by your own real-life love story?
I have a wonderful husband who always takes credit for being my inspiration. And while that’s true, as a writer I do love to explore stories beyond my own personal experience. I like to bring together couples who complement each other but also drive each other a little crazy. I think love is about finding that one person who pushes you to be better, who challenges the way you think, supports you no matter what and gives you that heady, dizzy, wonderful feeling that comes when you fall in love.
I love that your novels are not only awesome romances but also have gripping suspense as a central part of the story line. How do you start planning your novels with the romance or with the suspense—or with something else altogether?
I enjoy writing romance that brings a little extra in terms of a plot. So every Callaway novel features a great love story, a puzzling mystery, some family drama and a little nerve-tingling suspense. I don’t outline in great detail, but I always have a general idea of the suspense plot points before I begin. The story takes shape and changes as I put myself into the characters’ heads. That’s part of the fun of writing!
Congrats on your groundbreaking, new partnership with Ingram to get the paperback editions of the Callaways out to the world. What about this opportunity has you most excited?
Since I formed my own publishing company and began independently publishing my books outside of the traditional New York publishing industry, it’s been a challenge to get my books into print and into physical bookstores across the country. Late last year, I entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Ingram Publisher Services to sell and distribute my books into retail outlets like Target, Barnes and Noble, airport bookstores and supermarkets, as well as other bookstore chains. I know there are lots of readers who still prefer to read in print, and I’m thrilled that they’ll now be able to read my bestselling digital series in their favorite format!