I’m talking today with lesfic author Barbara Winkes. Barbara, who is originally from Germany and now lives with her wife in Canada. Barbara writes lesfic romance and suspense and, from stalking her a little before our chat, I can see that she also has a work or two that falls into the sci-fi/fantasy realm out there.
Anne: Welcome Barbara!
Anne: Now, I have to admit right up front that I’ve been doing these author interviews over the last few weeks and I’ve been publishing them on Wednesday mornings then revisiting them all day to share them in my newsletter and to promote them on social media. This week, for you, is going to be a little different. As this posts on the evening of Independence Day in the U.S., I’m settled down for the night in a hotel room in Fort Wayne, Indiana, halfway from my home in Ohio to the site of the GCLS Convention that kicks of Wednesday afternoon in Chicago. I wanted to be sure and give you plenty of attention before I turn my own attention to the con.
Barbara: No problem.
Anne: Let’s start off talking about your books. You have a few different series and you write in multiple genres, all with strong women at the core. Tell us about that.
Barbara: I love thrillers with women leads, but they can be tough, even when the leading lady succeeds in the end. If I need a break from the darker side, I write romance where the obstacles appear not in the form of serial killers, but the characters’ own dysfunctional habits (that they hopefully overcome in the course of the story). I also wrote a number of utopian/dystopian stories, like Rise, and the upcoming The Exodus Project. The older I get, the more I get frustrated about the slow pace of change, and the, apparently, inevitable backlash. This genre is a way of dealing with that frustration because you can lay out your own vision. Whatever the genre, it always comes down to women fighting the odds, and succeeding—and, of course, loving women.
Anne: Can you tell us what you’re working on right now? You mentioned The Exodus Project.
Barbara: I’m preparing for the release of my next book, Open Spaces, an erotic romance, and doing last edits for the next after that, a political utopia, The Exodus Project. Variety is the spice of life! Writing-wise, I’m in the middle of Carpenter/Harding book 7 (her suspense/thriller series).
Anne: And what do your plans for future projects after those are released include?
Barbara: I have outlined the next few Carpenter/Harding novels, and generally, releases for 2017/2018.
Anne: I’m excited to hear that your Ellie and Jordan stories aren’t nearly played out yet! I’m sure their other fans will be happy when they read this too.
Anne: How about influences. Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential to your work?
Barbara: These are a few that have created unforgettable characters: J. M. Redmann (Micky Knight), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club). All deal with women overcoming odds stacked against them, and that’s definitely a theme that attracts me.
Anne: Me too and I like all of those. You’ve got a good mix of mystery/suspense in there. Have you always liked mysteries?
Barbara: Yes. Even growing up some of my favorite books were young adult mysteries about a teenage girl named Jill Graham. I think they had a big influence.
Anne: I’ve heard of those books but I’ve not read them. They sound like the Nancy Drew mystery stories I grew up reading. (I looked them up…they are similar but there weren’t nearly as many).
Getting Personal With Barbara Winkes:
Anne: Can you tell us something no one knows about you…until now?
Barbara: I have synesthesia. I didn’t realize until my adult years that not everybody automatically sees colors when thinking of letters, words, numbers, etc. It’s quite helpful when coming up for a color scheme for covers, or when having to memorize things.
Anne: That’s interesting and I, of course, had to look that up because I’d never heard of it. It’s no wonder you’re such a creative type. You visualize things in a completely different way. It’s actually pretty cool!
Anne: So, that’s not something that takes you out of your comfort zone. That’s actually helpful to you. Tell us what does.
Barbara: People. Lol! I’m the quintessential socially awkward, hiding in her office writer.
Anne: Aren’t we all? I’m right there with you a lot of the time. It’s where I would much rather be.
Barbara: Fortunately, my wife is the opposite of socially awkward, and she gets me to leave the house every once in a while.
Anne: Let’s make you think a little: If you weren’t so introverted and you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be?
Barbara: Angie Harmon, Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau. That should make for interesting conversations.
Anne: I love it. I’d throw the new President of France, Emmanuel Macron, in there too. No offense…please don’t take offense, but who thought we’d ever see the day when the world looked to Canada and France for the best examples of competent, committed leadership? Unreal! Unreal to many Americans like me, anyway…
Anne: Okay, I try not to be political on this blog. Things are divisive enough. A different question entirely is in order: What’s your favorite TV show of all time and why?
Barbara: Women’s Murder Club. It did what I strive to do in my books as well: Show women being allies instead of competitors, but being able to respect other women even if they’re not in their circle of best friends. Getting the job done. Some action, lots of subtext (in my books, of course, it’s all text). I prefer a contemporary context, and realism, to speculative/mythological, so that show was definitely tailor made for me.
Anne: I certainly agree with that!
Anne: Finally, what’s your best book marketing tip for all of the other authors and aspiring authors out there?
Barabara: Before spending any money, make sure whatever you pay for is reaching your target audience. In the past, there haven’t been many opportunities to market directly to an LGBT, specifically lesbian audience. Fortunately, it’s getting better. For example, I advertise on Women and Words, and I know that visitors to that site are potentially interested in the kind of books I write. Before, I have paid for a FB party or Twitter blast, but that kind doesn’t do much if it reaches mostly straight readers.
Anne: I love advertising on Women and Words too. Inexpensive and very effective. They post a lot and they get a lot of readers of lesfic on the site daily, as a result.
Anne: That’s all folks! Many thanks to Barbara for being with us today.
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