In this heartening interview with historical fiction and romance author Barbara Devlin, you’ll discover how Ms. Devlin went from being a disabled-in-the-line-of-duty, retired police officer, to an exceedingly eccentric English professor, to a USA Today bestselling Indie author.
About the Author Barbara Devlin
USA Today bestselling, Amazon All-Star author Barbara Devlin was born a storyteller, but it was a weeklong vacation to Bethany Beach, Delaware that forever changed her life. The little house her parents rented had a collection of books by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which exposed Barbara to the world of romance, and Shanna remains a personal favorite.
Barbara writes heartfelt historical romances that feature not so perfect heroes who may know how to seduce a woman but know nothing of marriage. And she prefers feisty but smart heroines who sometimes save the hero before they find their happily ever after.
Barbara Devlin is a disabled-in-the-line-of-duty retired police officer, after she was struck by a car while working an accident on a major freeway. After three years of rehab, she earned an MA in English and continued a course of study for a Doctorate in Literature and Rhetoric, earning the prestigious Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Dream Scholar award. She happily considered herself an exceedingly eccentric English professor, until success in Indie publishing lured her into writing, full-time, featuring her fictional, Templar-based knighthood, the Brethren of the Coast.
She has published 25 books, is a #1 bestseller of historical fiction and historical romance, an Amazon All-Star Author, and a USA Today bestseller. She has been featured numerous times in the USA Today HEA blog and is a 2017 double finalist for the RONE award, for best novella and best Regency.
Barbara recently signed with Elizabeth Poteet, of the Seymour Literary Agency, and is currently working on a unique Regency series featuring disabled heroes from the infamous battle of Waterloo, as well as a female policewoman series based on her personal experiences as a law enforcement officer.
Interview with Barbara Devlin
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time?
I am a full-time writer.
Q: What genres do you mainly write in?
I write medieval, regency, and pirate historical romance.
I’ve also ventured into contemporary paranormal romance, and I’m also developing a contemporary policewoman series based on my experiences in law enforcement.
Q: How many books have you written so far?
To date, I have 25 books published. I have four additional works in progress.
Q: What is your latest book “The Stablemaster’s Daughter” about?
Eleven years after she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Kent, Henrietta Katherine Graham, the daughter of the stablemaster for the Marquess of Ravenwood, returns to Garring Manor, older, wiser, and more beautiful than ever.
Harboring an attachment for the second son, she looks forward to a sweet reunion and is thrilled when her beau resumes their relationship, without hesitation, and proposes marriage, but her father opposes the match, due to what he refers to as her low birth.
Will Henrietta defy her father and societal dictates to follow her heart?
Q: What inspired you to write “The Stablemaster’s Daughter”?
I was invited to participate in a unique collection of books, with eleven other authors, about forbidden love, called Regency Rendezvous, published by Scarsdale Publishing. At the time, I was planning a side story for a secondary character that my readers really wanted, so it seemed the perfect solution. Given the hero’s reliance on society’s good opinion, the idea of pairing him with a less than perfect mate provided the perfect obstacle for my couple.
Q: What were your goals for this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
This book connects to another series, Pirates of the Coast, and tells the story of the younger brother from The Iron Corsair. But the book also touches on themes of acceptance and breaking social boundaries, which would have been considered quite scandalous during the Regency era.
My primary goal was to give my readers the continuity of my series, as well as to confront the dark theme of child abuse, and the long-lasting impact, which is central to the story. I’m very happy with the way the plot evolved as I wrote the book.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing “The Stablemaster’s Daughter”?
By far, the most difficult aspect of writing The Stablemaster’s Daughter was describing the brutality in the hero’s introspection, as well as his loss of confidence. I did a lot of research on the secrecy involved in the abuser/abused relationship, and it was both fascinating and frightening.
As a police officer, I worked numerous child abuse cases, and I never really understood why children protected their abuser, until I had to put myself in the mind of a physically abused character and describe the isolation, the fear, and the determination to protect the dirty secret. It is, at its root, a malevolent sort of compact.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
For me, the thrill of writing is in trying something new. There is a beautiful ambiguity and verbal texture to the written word that permits authors to share something incredibly personal with the general public. This book offered that opportunity, though I cannot elaborate.
Tell us all about your career
Q: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. My intense fear of flying put an end to that dream.
Q: At what age did you start writing stories?
I started writing in elementary school. Later, an aunt gave me a beautiful diary, complete with a brass lock and key, and writing became a daily habit for me. I won my first writing contest in high school, for a horribly cheesy murder mystery.
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle every Indie author faces is the assumption that our work is somehow less than or inferior to books from traditional publishers. As an Indie author, I hire cover artists, editors, and formatters, just like NY publishers do, only I do everything myself.
Q: What kept you going..?
Q: Has your family supported you in your writing endeavors?
My family has been incredibly supportive of my writing career.
Q: Do you ever suffer a writer’s block?
Not yet. Hope you didn’t just jinx me.
Q: Where does the inspiration for your stories come from?
My inspiration comes from countless sources. First and foremost, I write what I know. After that, it can be something as simple as a commercial, a news story, or an underlying theme from a movie. I’ve been inspired by a greeting card, so inspiration is everywhere.
Q: What do you consider your best accomplishment?
I’m not sure that surviving a police academy is my best accomplishment, but I always say I’d rather have a tarantula lay eggs in my ear than endure another police academy. Make of that what you will.
Q: What makes your writing special?
I think each story is special to the respective author, because voice is like a fingerprint. No two are the same. But I strive to tell stories about real people during various eras, if only to show that we’re all the same.
Q: What are your current projects?
I’m currently writing my third Kindle Worlds book for Amazon and Kathryn Le Veque’s World of De Wolfe Pack. Kat is my sister from another mister, so when she relaunches, I’m there. I’m also working on a unique regency series about disabled heroes from Waterloo. And then there’s my labor of love, a contemporary series about female police officers.
Q: What’s your process of writing a story?
Research. Plot. Compose. And I’m a ruthless researcher and plotter. But I’m not necessarily married to my plots. Sometimes, my characters speak to me, and they take me in different directions, so I honor that.
Q: What is your favorite writing environment?
My home office is my sanctuary. My husband gave me a custom-built desk, and I spend hours at my computer. On days when he’s at the fire hall, which is every third day, I can write 14-16 hours straight.
Q: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I put in 8-10 hours every day, even on so-called holidays. I write because I don’t know how not to write.
Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research online for your books?
Where do I start? I research everything, because I want to get the history correct. I’ve researched the Code Duello, which governed duels, Medieval fencing techniques, and various recipes for blancmange. But the strangest thing I ever researched was the various stages of body decomposition.
Q: Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I’m a writer. Unique and quirky is a given, I think.
Let’s talk business!
Q: Where do you sell your books?
My Pirates of the Coast series is available at all retailers. My Brethren of the Coast and Brethren Origins series are exclusive to Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
Q: Do you have a publisher or do you self-publish?
I do both!
I self-published after a traditional deal fell through in the eleventh hour. It was crushing. But I couldn’t be more grateful, because I was able to publish my stories as I envisioned them. Now that I’ve got a decent-sized backlist, I earn good money–more than I made in Academia.
I’ve recently signed with Elizabeth Poteet, of the Seymour Literary Agency, and I couldn’t be happier.I’ve always told aspiring authors that they want the agent that reads a submission and says, ‘Wow.’
I finally found that in Lizzie, because I almost fainted when I opened her email, and the first word she wrote was, ‘Wow.’
I think I knew right there that she was the agent for me.
Was it easy? Is anything easy in this business?
As for the process, we were introduced by a mutual friend who thought Lizzie and I would make a good team. After a lengthy phone chat, I agreed.
As for rejections? I could fill a U-Haul with the amount of rejections I’ve received since I first started submitting my work, in 2004. But you can’t let anyone stop you from publishing if you truly believe in yourself and your work.
This business is so subjective, so one individual’s rejection just means they didn’t appreciate your voice. Maybe the next person will.
“A splendid and most satisfying Regency romance story.” – NY Literary Magazine
“Devlin’s prose and descriptions enchant right from the opening scene.” – RT Book Reviews
“This heart-fluttering, nerve-wracking, swoon-worthy romance is one for the ages!” – InD’tale Magazine
“Barbara Devlin offers history, romance, and mystery all wrapped up in an engrossing story that is filled with witty repartee and ribald scenes that border on debauchery.” – IndieReader
Let’s get personal!
Q: What are you really good at and love doing aside from writing?
Is there an aside?
Q: What are your favorite books? What authors do you admire?
One of my favorite books is The Stand, by Stephen King. I’m a huge King fan. Also love Dean Koontz and John Saul. I was an avid Tom Clancy reader, as well as Jeffrey Archer. But my all-time life-changing story is Hope Leslie, by Catharine Maria Sedgwick.
Q: What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
Well, let’s see… I worked in banking until the S & L downfall in the late 80s and early 90s, which is how I ended up a police officer. I needed a reliable income.
Then I got hit by a car while working an accident, and was pinned between the car and a guardrail, and that ended my police career. Then I went back to school and taught at a four-year University, while I wrote part-time.
I honestly have no idea what I’d do if I could no longer write, because writing has been my constant for as long as I can remember.
Q: What are your big dreams and goals?
I just want to continue publishing my stories. I’ve recently signed with an agent, and I plan to go hybrid. Beyond that, I’m happy.
Q: What do you love best about an author’s lifestyle and being an author?
My coffee mug is always full, and my hours are flexible.
Q: What is your advice to aspiring Indie authors?
My advice to Indie authors is to write what you know, and write the story that’s within you.
Beyond graduate English courses, I didn’t take any workshops or writing courses, because I never want to risk altering my voice to sound like someone else.
Thank you, Barbara Devlin, for taking part in our author interview!
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