Interview with Elizabeth Barlo

Describe your desk
Our dining table doubles as my desk. All I really need in order to write is a chair and my laptop. Right now I'm sitting here surrounded by an empty cereal bowl, my daughter's coloring book, crayons and markers, a hair brush, a doll, and a cookie wrapper. Quite cozy, really.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Netherlands (more commonly known as 'Holland') in the '80s and '90s. This had a big impact on how I view some of the issues that come up in 'Ruth 66', such as teen love, (homo)sexuality and drug use. My upbringing was quite liberal, but this doesn't mean that my parents would just let me do whatever I wanted. It meant that we had open lines of communication about these issues and that my parents trusted me to make the right decisions. Having their trust meant the world to me-it made me feel free, but also responsible and accountable. I knew that by breaking that trust I would only let myself down, and, much worse, my parents.
What's the story behind your latest book?
In 2009 I began collecting music on our family iPod in order to create a music library-much like a digital version of Charlie and Opa's Music Room in 'Ruth 66'. The inspiration for the story came when I listened to the music my parents used to listen to when I was a child. I came to realize that the soundtrack to our lives starts at a very young age. I hadn't heard some of the songs for many years, but as soon as I played them I was teleported to the backseat of our car, driving through the French countryside with the windows down. I could feel the warm wind on my face and the upholstery of the seat sticking to my sweaty legs again. Music makes magic!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was on the path to traditional publishing when my literary agent, Pauline, passed away suddenly. I had just finished the first draft of the 'Ruth 66' manuscript with Pauline's guidance, but it still needed a lot of work. I knew it would be very difficult to find an agent with whom I had a real click--it can take months, even years to find one. And then, once you have found an agent, it can take another year before you get a foot in the door with the traditional publishers. So I decided to find a good editor instead and go indie. I approached Lori Zue, of Lori Zue Editing Services in Lake Stevens, WA, and we clicked. Lori really helped me clean up the manuscript, tighten the story and the characters and recommended a great proofreader.
I've learned a lot by going indie, about fiction writing in general, but also about marketing, book formatting, finances etc. And platforms like Smashwords make it easy to publish your own e-book with their tools and manuals.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's very simple: the act of writing itself makes me feel happy and fulfilled. Writing clears my head of everyday worries. It's a bit like meditating, when you focus on your breath or a mantra and everything else just falls away.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on three projects. There's an unnamed Young Adult/New Adult Novel in the works about a runaway teenage girl, as well as an unnamed novel in the Contemporary Women's genre about a female pilot who sets off on a routine trip to Fiji, but ends up on a spiritual journey to truth and authenticity with a very unlikely companion.
I hope to publish both these books in 2014.

There's also the sequel to 'Ruth 66', called 'Struth!', set in Australia, which I hope to publish in 2015.
What do your fans mean to you?
I am very grateful to all the people who have devoted some of their precious time to Ruth 66 - whether they loved it or hated it. It's difficult for the indie author voice to be heard, so I'd like to give a virtual hug to anyone who has taken the time to listen!
Who are your favorite authors?
Books have always played, and continue to play, an important role in my life. My favorite authors include Donna Tartt, Isabelle Allende, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, Gabriel García Márquez and Hella Haasse. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 'Adrian Mole' series by Sue Townsend, as well as J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' and Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight,' but if I had to pick my all-time favorite book it would be 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt, with 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee a close second.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
That would be my youngest calling out "Mamaaaaa!". The longer I wait, the louder he gets...
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Washing, cleaning, editing, reading, laughing, gardening, caring, playing, cooking, TV-watching, shopping, proofreading, meditating, listening, talking, bill-paying, cuddling, studying, driving, organizing, and most nights I manage to squeeze in some sleep too.
What's your sense of humor?
I appreciate all kinds of humor, as long it makes me laugh :-) I love Bill Murray, for example, but can also at times appreciate the crass humor of Eddy Murphy, and I thought Rebel Wilson was hilarious in the movie 'Pitch Perfect.' I must confess that I have a weak spot for slapstick, which I share with my son, resulting in tears-down-your-face-and-pee-your-pants laughing sprees. And yes, watching people do silly things on Funniest Home Videos is a perfect form of relaxation for me.
Published 2014-08-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Ruth 66
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 125,180. Language: American English. Published: February 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Humor, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family
Buckle up and grab the ‘oh-crap!’ handle above your head as you join music-mad Charlie on a life changing road trip down Route 66.