Author Interview: Barbara Avon

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I’ve always advocated following your heart (both in life, and as an author). What that means is to tell the story that you want to tell without fear, without boundaries. I never try to follow a formula, or “write to trend”. If you follow your heart, your story will automatically be better in the sense that readers will be able to feel your story, and relate to your characters on a level that’s different from something written in a “paint by numbers” fashion. Of course, we have to ensure the book is proofread, edited, and formatted properly, but otherwise, there are no steadfast rules.

Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes. Being older, I have a bit of life experience behind me. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the horrendous, and translating that on paper as a fictional story comes easily to me. I do write for an adult audience. Sometimes, my characters are broken, and I’m not averse to using profanity in my books to illustrate their suffering. That’s even more true when it comes to writing horror. I want to make my stories realistic, and I doubt any of us would run from a ghost screaming, “Oh, gee, I wish it would leave me alone.” There’d be swearing. My intimate scenes aren’t always explicit, but again, it depends on the story. My very first book (My Love is Deep) is more of a Nicholas Sparks type of story, with gentler love scenes. My last romance (Sultry Is The Night) was more detailed because of the nature of the book, and the characters who fell in love during a tumultuous time in their lives. I want my readers to relate to my characters, and if that means being brutally honest, then that’s how I’ll write.

Do you participate in writing challenges on social media? Do you recommend any?
Yes, I enjoy #Vss365 – a daily word prompt. (Very Short Story – 365 days a year). I also enjoy #Satsplat which prompts you with a theme, rather than a word, #VssGhostTales, and I participate in #HorrorWritersChat every Wednesday.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
No, it never even crossed my mind, and as soon as I was married, and my husband encouraged me to publish my first book in 2015 (written in 2002), I began using my married name on all of my novels. I want the world to know it’s me who’s sharing the stories that come from my soul.

How do you come up with character names for your stories?
I like to use classic names, like Peter, Daniel, Mario, etc. Being of Italian heritage, I also like to throw in at least one Italian character in all of my books, so I obviously have to choose a surname that fits. There is one character that I didn’t assign a surname to. Luke from “Qwerty” and its sequel.

How much research did you need to do for your book?
This varies by genre, but I’m a fan of doing research. It adds authenticity and credibility to the story, and it’s important to have spelling right, as well. I always say that Google is a writer’s best friend. It only takes a second to Google something and make sure that the spelling of a pop culture reference is correct. I think I did the most research for “Timepiece” (my time travel novel spanning 1932-1982) and “Postscript”, my ghost love story that includes flashbacks to Prohibition in Canada.

What characters in your book are most similar to you or to people you know?
Briana from “My Love is Deep” is most like me. In fact, that story (which is also my first book) was inspired by a real-life couple (me and my ex-fiance). Thankfully, the characters took on a life of their own, and their story became their own, but Briana is still most like me. Daniel, from my time travel romance “Promise Me” is most like my husband. They even share the same name.

What would you say to an author who wanted to design their own cover?
I’d say, “Go for it.” I design my own. As an Indie author with over twenty titles, there’s no way that I could afford to hire out. It took a lot of practice, and I have updated some of my covers several times, but I’m happy with the results. I would suggest browsing Amazon for books in your genre and getting a feel for what’s popular. Ensure that there is enough space around the text or Amazon will refuse the design. (They need space when they print your paperbacks.) Choose striking fonts, and ensure that your cover image gives the reader a feel for what’s between the covers. Also, be sure that you’re using a copyright free photo for your cover. I use Canva to design my covers.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think it was when my Grade 9 English teacher, Mr. Costanzo, made me read my short story out loud. He awarded me an A + and even though there was snickering at the start of my story, I heard sniffles by the end. That was a tough experience because I was really shy and self-conscious back then! My high school crush was sitting right next to me, too. But I got through it, and it was then that I knew that I would one day write a novel.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Like I said in question 9, I was somewhat of a wallflower, and lived inside of my head most of the time. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. My ideas always come from my imagination. When I started writing horror, I realized that it’s not so different from real-life (I prefer writing psychological horror) in that, there’s tragedy everywhere and no one is immune to the psychological effects of life. No, we haven’t all seen ghosts, but I believe in them. Like one of my characters says, “Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” To get through life, we need a lot of faith, and trust. I trust my gut. It’s always been my motto – “Trust your gut, and your heart because those goosebumps you get riding up your arms, they’re telling you something.”

Twitter: Barbara Avon  (@barb_avon) / Twitter

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