Friday, September 14, 2007

Spotlight in Six with Barbara Hannay!

We're thrilled to have with us this month RITA award winner Barbara Hannay, all the way from Down Under! Barbara's current release is the second in the SECRETS WE KEEP trilogy, Needed: Her Mr. Right.

All right we go!

After writing twenty-six books, where do you find new and fresh ideas?
I’ve been a dreamer all my life. As I child I didn’t have just one imaginary friend, I turned my home into an entire boarding school. My bedroom was a dormitory and I did my homework with a host of “friends”. My long-suffering family never realized that there were at least a dozen other girls dining at our table every night.

So with a weird brain like that, I have no problem dreaming up new story lines. I hope to keep them new and fresh by staying in touch with the ever-changing ‘outside’ world.

I read, read, read and I love movies and belong to a cinema group that shows many ‘art house’ and foreign films. I ‘people watch’ and I’m a great listener at parties and social occasions.

And I have a wonderful husband who consumes newspapers and non fiction books and, unlike me, can recall details later and who is happy to brainstorm story ideas with me.

Writers often use photos of celebrities as “casting”. Do you do this, and who has inspired some of your characters?

I can’t say that I do use celebrities, as I fear my knowledge of the actor or the roles he/she has played will intrude into my fictional world. That said, I do remember when I wrote my first book that I had a scene where the hero was testing the depth of a flooded creek on foot before he drove across it and I thought of Mel Gibson in the film Gallipoli. I asked myself how he would have played that scene and immediately I saw him turn back from that rushing flood water and give the heroine a grin and a wink, like a cheeky school boy.

That moment hooked the editor who eventually bought my book.

What I do use for inspiration are collages – collections of pictures of people (mostly anonymous faces from magazines), objects, settings and scraps of text that evoke the mood of my book and help to keep me in the ‘story world’ of my current work.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of writing a novel? Is there a particular section that you struggle with?

I’m never completely at ease with my story until I get the hero and heroine together. I try, wherever possible, to get them together on the first page, but some stories just don’t lend themselves to that. But I’m always keen to get them together to make sure that the chemistry is working. Once I get a feel for their dynamics, I feel more comfortable about the overall story and I can bear to separate them, if necessary.

I love writing their exchanges of dialogue while they’re getting to know each other, or when they’re meeting again after some time.

And I’m rather cruel. I love to give them plenty of trouble. For me, trouble is story.

I often find the hardest part to write is the ending. Finding ways to make I love you. I love you, too feel new and fresh is a distinct challenge, but I know it’s a very important part of a romance story and I don’t want to cheat the reader out of a good ending. I sometimes think I should write the ending first! In fact, I may yet try that with my next book.

When you are not writing, what do you do? How do you pamper yourself?

My husband and I have a getaway cottage about four hours away, up in the Misty Mountains of North Queensland, where I usually escape. It’s cool and often wet. We light a fire, open a bottle of red wine and listen to music and talk about my next book, or we have friends around and I listen to their stories and tuck ideas away. My life is never completely divorced from my writing.

Imagine you’re stranded…where are you and who are you with?

I think I’ve just described that in my last answer. (grin)

Finally, Barb, please tell us what’s up and coming for you in the months ahead!

This month, of course, there’s Needed: Her Mr. Right, Book #2 in the Secrets We Keep trilogy, which is Simone and Ryan’s story, set in Sydney.
Coming in January 08 is another of my Outback books, The Bridesmaid’s Best Man, in which an Australian cattleman is best man at a wedding in London where he and the bridesmaid have a whirlwind affair that results in pregnancy. The troubled London bridesmaid travels to the depths of the North Queensland Outback to try to sort things out.

Later in July, I have my grandparent book! Yes, I’ve written a romance for grandparents, but they’re only thirty-nine. Their baby was given away for adoption when they were nineteen and now a twist of fate brings them together to care for their tiny grandson.

Thanks Barb for being with us! Needed: Her Mr. Right is OUT NOW at bookshops in NA and the UK and available on the Harlequin and Mills and Boon websites, as well as the amazons!


  1. Thanks for the opportunity to be here, Donna. This is a very comfy place to chat.
    Thought I'd add that I now have a title for my grandparent book. It's Adopted:Outback Baby.

  2. I love that title, and love the premise, Barb. Thanks for sharing your vision with us.

  3. Your grandparent book sounds wonderful! I look forward to reading it. :)