Interview with Barbara Butler McCoy

What is your writing process?
The first step is to just get out of my own way. I empty my mind of an agenda and just let myself notice what ideas present themselves. In time strands of thought begin to emerge and then to weave themselves into patterns with other strands. In time something sparks the inspiration to research for the material to flesh out this web of ideas. Often the research sets another process of observation and weaving into motion.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I recall the first story that has had a lasting impact on me. It was, I think, "The House that Gilda Drew," and came from the Scholastic Book catalog we received monthly in elementary school. Gilda's family was rather nomadic and she dreamed of a house for her family. She dreamed it and she drew it. One day her family moved into the house she had drawn. This was about the same time I became aware of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" so that theme of believing in your dream really took hold for me.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design, I think, is much like the teaser for a film. The cover should arouse interest in an aesthetic and truthful manner without giving away the entire story. I look for an image that pleases and surprises yet leaves room for more surprises.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"A Midsummer Night's Dream," William Shakespeare. The comedy, the otherworldliness, the philosophy draw me in time after time.
"A Natural History of the Senses," Diane Ackerman. Shakespeare wrote 'What a piece of work is man' and Ms. Ackerman's exploration of the sensate human illustrates this perfectly.
"The Speed of Light," Elizabeth Rosner. The revelations, shadows, and voices of the scientist, the singer, and the housekeeper in this novel break open the heart to the light behind tragic atrocities.
"Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters," J. D. Salinger. This is simply the most exquisite story I can recommend to anyone.
"Hotel Pastis," Peter Mayle. I return to the Hotel Pastis as often as possible. My ribs ache with laughter and my mouth waters at the descriptions of places and feasts.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mysteries, because I love the puzzles.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
If I am at home I use my iPad and if I'm out in town I read on my smart phone.
Describe your desk
My desk is a pine pedestal table, round, with one of the leaves inserted. It was once our dining room table and bears the marks of years of use.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where I attended Catholic schools. Upon reflection I realize that it was going to school and learning that my world fit inside a much larger world that fired my interest in writing stories. Too, just shy of my ninth birthday, the images of Earth beamed back to us by the American astronauts strongly reinforced that realization.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The answer is in the question - that single word 'independence.'
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There is a particular joy in knowing, after all the patient observing and noting and puzzling and revising, that I did indeed manage to articulate the fabric of all those strands of thought.
Published 2015-12-28.
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Books by This Author

Watermark in the Heart
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 2,020. Language: English. Published: December 4, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » American poetry
"Watermark in the Heart" is a slim volume of poetry marking Barbara Butler McCoy's debut. It offers hurricane season as a metaphor for the process by which human consciousness explores life and comes to an understanding of itself in the wake of those moments and events that shake and shatter the soul, and alter the personal, natural and universal landscape.