Interview with Barbara T. Cerny

What inspired you to write your first book?
I have wanted to write since the second grade. I was always coming up with stories to tell my friends at lunch or on the bus rides to/from school. I wrote through high school - on the journalism team, in creative writing class, on the teen page for the city newspaper.
My first story, Of Angels and Orphans, rolled around in my head for nearly thirty years. Life eventually got in the way and writing was shoved to the side. “Someday, I will write…” You know how it goes.
Well, that someday came in the most unusual way. I am a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserves, a twenty-two year veteran in our military. And I, like hundreds of thousands before me, was called up by my country to serve in Southwest Asia (SWA) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
I left behind two small children, aged eight and five, and a husband, who overnight became chief, cook, bottle washer, mom and dad. I bless him every day for the sacrifices he made to keep the home fires burning. He took the brunt of the deployment, not me. I love him with all my being: my heart, my mind, my body, my soul. My love for him is where my ability to write about the love between my two main characters is born.
In SWA, I worked six days a week, twelve to thirteen hour days for twelve straight months. My day off was sometimes a day off, sometimes only six-to-eight hours of work. I lived Groundhog Day for three hundred sixty-five days.
But I had time on my hands. No kids, no responsibilities outside the mission, no cleaning the bathrooms, no cooking or grocery shopping. I just had to make my bunk and take the bus to work. I lived in an open bay barracks with forty-eight of my favorite friends, walking three buildings to a shower/toilet trailer in 115º heat.
When I first arrived, I read voraciously, downing four-five novels in a week. In January 2006, I was able to take a four-day break to Qatar and lay around reading seven novels. I read two romance novels in those four days, a genre I rarely read as I like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, and their brand of book best.
So there I was, reading a romance novel and wondering why I was reading other people’s books when I had Of Angels and Orphans still wandering around in my mind.
So I started to write. I wrote on my days off. I wrote on my evenings I wasn’t dancing - I taught ballroom and country dance lessons for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on my camp. I wrote when my boss went on leave, I wrote when my boss went on business travel. From the first week in February to the first weekend in June, I wrote that book that I had dreamed up so long ago.
Since I had written it in my head, every activity planned to the nth degree, it flowed very quickly. I wrote the meeting between Nate and Audra first and the two whippings, the wedding day, then the wagon train, then the final sword fight between Audra and her brother as they had been detailed greatly in my mind over the years. The rest filled in fast without problem.
Bottom line, deployment gave me the time I had pushed aside for almost three decades so I guess I have to say, “Thank you, Uncle Sam!” for giving me the chance to actually put the life of Audra Markham and Nathaniel Abbot on paper.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I love to write descriptions (remember the four-page description of the dress Scarlett O’Hara wore in the first chapter of Gone With the Wind? Okay, I am not THAT bad). Dialogue is very hard for me and I struggle with it and have to really concentrate on it. The editor working on my fifth novel is constantly telling me to rewrite descriptive paragraphs into dialogue (she is diabolical to say the least). I would be perfectly happy to write everything in a description. However, knowing that would drive away my readers, dialogue and I have come to a truce of sorts. I love research and I love history. I pepper every novel with historical facts woven with the story. My readers always comment positively on the historical journey I take them on while telling my story.
What books have most influenced your life most?
As I said earlier, I read Stephen King (my ultimate favorite is The Stand), Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler (so fun), Robert Ludlum, Dan Brown (so technically amazing), Stephen Coonts, etc. However, what comes into my head are romances and fantasies. Go figure. I love books with the richness of language. I really hate to see our youth of today “dumbed” down with some of the commercial successes that are written without the depth of the English language I feel all readers deserve to read. Now, I don’t mean reading a steady diet of Shakespeare, but reading at more than the elementary school level
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I must confess. I read very little these days, as all my spare time is spent doing my own writing (unless you count Time Magazine!). I did read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged this summer when my writing computer fizzled but that is a 50-yr-old novel - still amazing.
What are your current projects?
I have two books with editors. My regular editor couldn’t get into my paranormal, The Tiefling, so I had to find a new one. My new editor (the diabolical one), is changing every word, I think. But the novel will be pretty darn cool. It is set in Scotland, 1053, and first person male. I really had to get in touch with my masculine side for that.
The sequel to Shield of the Palidine, called Magic Thief of Gavalos, is also with my editor (the regular one) and it is well over 425 pages. As editing is simply the start of writing, they both are still “current”.
I am also developing three new novels: one romance is set in Sweden in the 1600s (researching the 30 Years’ War for background history), a second is a modern murder mystery called The Walled Cat (you will have to read it to understand that strange name!), and a biography of an amazing woman I know. That biography is by far the hardest book I have written and will probably be the only non-fiction I will ever write. It takes a special kind of writer to do biographies and I don’t think I “have” it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I never set out to become an "indie" author. I simply wanted to become a published author. However, like every other writer out there, after 30-40 rejections (or ignorings) from traditional publishers, the indie route becomes the path I had to trod.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Each book has its moments. Of Angels and Orphans flowed in literally days. I wrote on Sundays while deployed and had it done in 16 Sundays. But, it had been drafted in my head for 30 years.
Grays Hill had a size problem. It was too short and the publisher sent it back (162 pages was too close to the 150 page-make-no-money mark). So I had to restructure it completely and put in a sub-plot and touched nearly every page. I literally burned down the town with a fire that started at the blacksmith. My illustrator and I laugh now that we need to “burn down the smithy” when something needs a lot of fixing.
Tressa was a breeze. I loved researching baking in the late 1700s in Ireland. However, I sent this to a publisher just a few months ago who ripped it apart. I am now considering revamping it to meet the publisher’s needs and therefore have a chance for traditional publishing.
Shield of the Palidine was a pain. Try keeping track of seventeen main characters that represent nineteen fantasy races (pixies, fairies, griffons, etc.) plus animals like yale and centicore. I had to refer to a list of characters constantly (included in the book for the reader). I also had to draw a reference of all their heights and sizes compared to each other for sizing. If a pixie had a conversation with a giant, what did that really look like since the pixie was 18 inches tall and the giant 15 feet tall! Also, my editor’s sister and first reader did not think the romance was believable to I tore it apart and revamped the romance. I was never so glad in my life to see a book leave my hands. So I tortured myself by writing a sequel. I need my head examined (especially since I have outlined a prequel and a fourth in the series!)
For The Tiefling, I had a map of Scotland from around 1500 I use heavily and a dictionary of Scottish words from the 1400s. Talk about a reference nightmare! I use actual words and phrases from hundreds of years ago and have to keep track of the meanings in a glossary. Plus, it is a paranormal, first person male. It took me six year to write as I couldn’t sit down in 20 minutes and write a paragraph or two like I could with the romances. I had to take that long just to reread sections and become Branan Lachlan so I could write from his point of view. I needed large chunks of time to write. I also had to get in touch with my darkest side which doesn’t bubble to the surface easily. I hope I do not have to write a sequel to The Tiefling. I don’t want to go there again.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It fills my love bucket. I once had a publisher accuse me of writing for me. She may not be far from the truth but my small group of fans would probably argue. Anyone who has one of my books seems to have bought all my books. There is immense satisfaction when a woman in India writes a review of Tressa on her blog and says, “Was wool gathering and in such a hunt I came across another book from my favorite author, Barbara Cerny”. Really? I am her favorite author? Now that is JOY!
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! My circle of fans is small but they are incredibly loyal and they keep me going.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family. I am nothing without them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Raising two kids, working full time, Czech folks dancing and making folk costumes, ballroom dancing, singing tenor in the church choir, doing mission work with the church youth group, performing in my daughter's ballet studio's annual Nutcracker (as an adult in the party scene), volunteering at the K-12 Art Gallery for Young People, volunteering with the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association (my youngest has DS), and ignoring housekeeping and yard work.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Do not laugh, but I do not own one. I love the kinetic relationship between woman and physical book. I love the feel, the smell, and the sight of books in print. I am just not “into” eReaders. I publish in eBook form and sell more eBooks than hardcopies, yes, but the reason I went with a publisher on demand company was to get that physical book in my hands. You can’t cry over an eBook but you can when that first hardcopy shows up in the mail and you have tangible evidence that you are a PUBLISHED author and that these hardcopy books will outlast you. You cannot sign eBooks and I get such a kick (maybe another answer to the JOY question above) out of signing a book. I cannot image that eBooks will ever go away but I hope neither do print books. eBooks aren’t “real” and when the battery runs down or the electricity is off, the print book is still there to comfort and befriend. Our history is not in eBook – we have written accounts that go back to 1500 BC. Hardcopy will hopefully always be king.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Boy, second grade was so long ago! I think I was just born with a writing gene, if there is such a thing. I have done very well at my jobs over the years due to my writing ability even though that is not fiction (or is it?). I guess it is hard to find folks that understand technology (my degree is in computer science) and English at the same time. I write novels because it fills my “love bucket”, the thing that keeps me happy and fulfilled. I would love to make a living at writing but sometimes writing is enough.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I must confess. I read very little these days, as all my spare time is spent doing my own writing (unless you count Time Magazine!). I did read Ayn Rand’s 'Atlas Shrugged' this summer when my writing computer fizzled but that is a 50-yr-old novel - still amazing.
Published 2013-08-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Walled Cat
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 110,460. Language: English. Published: March 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
A house that whispers. A petrified cat. Two bodies in the basement. A creep for a neighbor and a murder mystery 70 years in the making
The Tiefling: Angel Kissed, Devil Touched
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 117,330. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Branan Lachlan is transformed by the devil, betrayed by God, and made to battle demons with naught but his Scottish wit… A Reader’s Favorite – 5 Star rating
Mara: A Georgian Romance
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 113,750. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Coming of age
The clean and sweet version of 'Of Angels and Orphans' A poor little rich girl meets an orphan boy and their friendship soars. Mara tells the romantic yet realistic tale of an overweight, neglected, posh young girl who befriends a poor, courageous orphan and his three friends.
Magic Thief of Gavalos
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 155,780. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Historical » Classical Greece & Rome
Seventeen years have passed on Earth and Amorgos calls Pierre and Elise Tonnelier once again. Through their children’s antics, they find themselves back to a place they never wanted to be. Amorgos is bereft of magic and Elise, as the Redeemer, finds herself reluctantly leading the races to save their world as she finds herself trying to save her marriage. Sequel to Shield of the Palidine.
Shield of the Palidine
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 127,220. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Accidently discovering a portal between Earth and Amorgos, Pierre and Elise find themselves surrounded by frightful creatures from beyond their imagination. Shield of the Palidine chronicles the journey of spoiled Princess Elise to the true Redeemer, of Pierre, a cooper, to a warrior of immense abilities, and their unbridled love, despite all the tensions of class, bigotry, and intolerance.
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 128,920. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Tressa leaves her home of Dublin, Ireland, for the unknown shores of New York City. There, she finds work in the powerful Langley family as a nurse-maid to a baby girl. Ethan, crippled in a riding accident that left him bound to a wheel chair, has spent the last few years in his room escaping the truth. As his brother brings the family to ruin, Tressa and Ethan must save the family and their love.
Grays Hill
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,280. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
After her father committed suicide rather than face his mounting gambling debts, Oksana Wallingford knows she will have to work to live. She finds a position as nanny for the Duke of Essex. Oksana and Rafe's personalities are like oil and water. However, what begins as mutual hate slowly begins to change into something more. But what future can they have when Rafe has sworn off marriage for good?
Of Angels and Orphans
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 120,340. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Audra and Nate: two lost souls that cannot find their place in the word suddenly find a place in each other’s hearts. Follow the lives of Audra and Nate as they grow from loyal childhood companions to inseparable young lovers, struggling through the perils of their own lives and facing difficult decisions that threaten to keep them apart.