Interview with Barbara J. Waldern

How do you approach cover design?
I like it to be my own creation using something from my own experience, so photos that I've taken, or photos of something very familiar to me, make good cover images.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I don't follow the trends and I ignore the best sellers, unless some who influences me makes a high recommendation. I read small simple novels when travelling or trying to fall asleep, like facile mysteries or romances because heavier and more engrossing stories distract me from keeping track of my itinerary or wake me up. I like reading short biographies but I'm not keen on reading self-written memoirs. I like alternative political or historical research and discussion. I often engage in book swaps, and love it when I come across a gem. Once in a while I make a trip to a book store, but that's dangerous because I might never leave and if I do, it'll be with empty wallet and arms full. Regarding great novels, I guess I more in favour of contemporary ones these days, because I used to read nothing but 18th and 19th or early 20th century stuff. I got behind in following recent works. There are many fabulous Canadian writers, I'm proud to say, but I'll read novels from anywhere in English, French or Spanish.
What do you read for pleasure?
The internet has captivated me a lot lately, so I'm reading lots of political, entertainment, historical and cultural articles from a really wide variety of sources, including articles shared with friends on social media and engaging in interactive commentary. When it comes to reading for pleasure, I like bad literature like the stuff that I use while traveling, waiting and getting to sleep. Good literature is arousing, moving and thought-provoking, which is not always pleasurable. The best of the best speak poignantly to hard truth about human life and the experience of reading them often stirs up negative emotions (saddening, alarming. upsetting, or frightening, for example). In fact, I can hardly remember reading a book that was actually "joyful" to read. Reading "Sometimes a Great Notion" by Ken Kesey, or "Please Look after Mom" by Kyung-Sook Shin or "Changing Heaven" by Jane Urquhart, for example, may feel glorious yet uncomfortable and disturbing because of the realities of human behaviour and psyche they expose. Reading high level literature often makes the reader uncomfortable even when there is an heroic character who succeeds, leaving a reader to marvel while shuddering. A good author exposes and exploits the contradictions and gets underneath the skin.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a major suburb of a major city, in Burnaby outside Vancouver. While growing up, the area was being rapidly converted from farmland to urban development, and many services and facilities of the city were popping up. It was an adventurous and optimistic time. I am very much influenced by that place and make a return there from time to time. I am very much influenced by the ethos and sentiments of the day. For example, I am quite optimistic and I like progress. However, I adopted a critical outlook such as was popular in the 60s and 70s, and felt the great disappointment of the 80s and 90s. But it was really the family dynamic and circumstances, and the circumstances of my gender that have influenced me the most.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Just a laptop or PC. I'm not that tech savvy, and I don't want to learn about it unless forced to.
Describe your desk
My desk is also too small. I'm at it a lot, so there is always clutter which I'm always trying to straighten up. I always have pen, pencil, notepaper, calendar, dictionary, USBs, headphones, handbag, cellphone and light switch ready at my fingertips. The keyboard is generally clean, though there's dust and inevitable, though tiny, spots of stickiness where food has left traces.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Nothing yet, though accessibility of this kind of e-book publishing certainly widens the prospects.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing as soon as I could push a pencil. I learned to type fast by the age of 13.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind the latest uploaded book, Take Care, is taken from my life in a run-down apartment building in Davie Village just up from Sunset Beach in Vancouver, BC for over 10 years. The landlords were negligent, money-grubbing and irresponsible. It is also influenced by the housing situation and the politics of housing development that I observed at the time. The book I'm currently writing is based on a retrospective of my life and the tragedies it contains that I'm still wrestling.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have to write. I need to give voice, express myself and writing is the best way for me. Mostly, it's quite a selfish endeavour. My perspective runs counter to what is mainstream, and I am curious about a lot of mundane things while always pondering the big picture. I like observing the connections and helping others to see connections. My politics are revolutionary socialist, but I like to create artistic work that can explore problems and express criticism or cite and suggest change without using political language and references when I write artistically. That is one of the challenges. Also, that is one of the biggest tasks for making change happen. It's a question of how help readers make discoveries on their own or to persuade by arousing sympathy and concern. However, I don't start out with a political message or task; no, I rather start with a character and place her/him in a plausible situation and then give her/him context, and a lot of the context is the social-political and cultural environment. A story develops and leads me on, turns the pages for me and I go on a voyage of discovery myself as the pages turn and the story develops. I hope it ends up being meaningful for a lot of people, if ever they read the stuff.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Without it, I would probably not be a published author today. Also, Smashwords has allowed me to publish on my own terms and at my own speed and in an affordable way. The website has helped to share my work and get it circulated for wider than it would have gone had I tried to do it the conventional way, if any printed copy actually had gotten realized.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to grow through it, being able to discover, learn and make my decisions. There is joy when I feel my consciousness lifted and when I solve a question or am able to see something new. Writing is a lot like reading, actually.
What do your fans mean to you?
I only have a handful, but they are very valuable to me nonetheless. Drawing energy and encouragement helps me to go on. Many of my fans are writers or other kinds of artistic creators, and I appreciate sharing ideas, results and discussion.
What are you working on next?
I'm delving into a little sci-fi with time travel.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have no favourites. I admire a lot of writers and their works.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life pulls me out. I revel in all the spare time I can get to think and imagine. I like to get work done, and accomplish things. I anticipate what I'll learn on any given day, who I'll meet and how I might be productive.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to work at staying healthy, staying active in various ways. Getting out in nature always re-energizes me. I like to listen to or read stories about people-- life stories by those inspiring people brave enough to share, and news about the nation and world, and mysteries or adventures, I like to catch up with friends and colleagues and hear their evolving stories and opinions.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
By chance and referral.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
What is your writing process?
When I want to write, I open myself up and something steps up. usually, I begin with a character and then I give her a name, identity, place, occupation and problem. I build her particular network of relationships. The problem becomes clearer, and I think how to solve it. The character leads me along, the pages turn themselves. I don't know what 's going to happen from one page to the next until I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book, and I have to know how to resolve the story. Even then, I can still get surprised. So, writing is exciting. It perks me up and heightens my senses when I'm in the middle of reading.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
no. I just remember reading all the children's books that the school and city libraries had, and craving something more, but being denied from reading materials that librarians and teachers deemed "too old" for me.
Published 2013-11-17.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

I, a Woman
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 5,610. Language: Canadian English. Published: November 19, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Female authors, Fiction » Poetry » Canadian Poetry
This is a collection of 16 poems on the themes of identity and social concerns written in Autumn, 2016. It encompasses what elements of womanhood I identify with and how, such as fashion, work, desire, media and relations with men.
Rugo and Karbo
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 1,560. Language: Canadian English. Published: June 9, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
This is a children's tale for 5-to 9-year-olds. Rugo and Karbo are best friends. Little birds born in a small cage, they are separated from their families and it is tough to cope among their cage mates. One day, they're taken in a box on a long mysterious trip just to live in a new cage. After they meet their foster mom, though, their life soars learning and doing new things.
Cases from the New Earth Herstorical Archives: Valuations
Price: $14.99 USD. Words: 61,350. Language: Canadian English. Published: May 2, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Scarlet Jones faces an alien magistrate at an official hearing. The Niribuan custodial state of the Earth has set up a system to detect and judge redundant persons for the sake of efficient development of the New Earth society. Scarlet's aimless life and all its spotty and non-exemplary history is revealed. Meanwhile, scientists review societies and lifestyles of Earth's past through case studies.
Writing for a Change
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 4,520. Language: Canadian English. Published: March 19, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » Canadian Poetry
This is a collection of 15 of my poems on a theme of art for social change, all of of them but one very recently composed.
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 24,590. Language: English. Published: January 29, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
This is a collection of twisted tales. Enjoy! What happens may not be what you expect.
A Year of Living Positively-Volume 4
Price: $10.99 USD. Words: 65,330. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / Success, Nonfiction » Philosophy » Social
This is the last volume of an entire collection of daily autobiographical blogs written to develop a positive thinking approach to my life that I want to share. I wrote every day for a whole year to reflect on my daily activities and problems from a positive thinking. I have also been developing what it means. I came up with a strategy to develop and maintain positive thinking in daily life.
A Klutz's Confessions
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 20,320. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor & satire, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Anxieties & Phobias
This is a humorous auto-biographical account of some of my own klutzy behavior. Beginning just after April Fool's Day this year, I pledged to write a few confessions giving accounts of daily hang-ups to make you giggle and see the humor in day-to-day anxieties and frustrations. Together, let's chuckle at our own silliness and feel better.
A Year of Living Positively-Volume 3
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 43,290. Language: English. Published: August 30, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Woman biographies, Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Counseling / career development
This is a collection of daily autobiographical blog posts on the theme of living positively.Starting the day after my last birthday, I have written blogs for 240 days straight so far. My goal of is to complete 365 posts. In Volume 3, I extend a study journal writing with positive thinking to consider processes of collaboration. Communication, community and problem solving require collaboration.
A Year of Living Positively-Volume 2
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 44,650. Language: English. Published: June 17, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Experimental methods
This is a collection of daily autobiographical blog posts on the theme of living positively.Starting the day after my last birthday, I have written blogs for 180 days straight so far. My goal of is to complete 365 posts. In this volume, I concentrate on a study of the medium I have chosen, which is a kind of journal writing.
A Year of Living Positively, Volume 1
Price: $10.99 USD. Words: 86,690. Language: English. Published: April 12, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Teachers & educators, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Healthy aging
This is a collection of daily autobiographical blog posts on the theme of living positively.Starting the day after my last birthday, I have written for 120 days straight of blogging so far. My goal of is to complete 365 posts. Through this process of reporting and reflecting, I have begun to develop my own concept of positive thinking and arrived at eight steps to live positively.
Take Care
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 77,270. Language: Canadian English. Published: May 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Fiona Daniel lives alone studying while working as a live-in apartment caretaker Vancouver, BC's West End. One day, the body of a wealthy man’s nephew is found discarded behind a building she tends. Her drab life is catapulted into excitement as the murder plot thickens against the background of corporate scandal and political conflict. As the mystery unravels, her life evolves.
Ice Age
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 47,960. Language: Canadian English. Published: July 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family
Fiction. This short novel would be suitable for readers aged 12 and older. Feeling cold and detached, members of the McLaren family cross paths with some inspiring people and find a way to face challenges and refresh life. A grandmother's 70th birthday celebration thaws out their lives.
On the Move
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 5,370. Language: Canadian English. Published: July 19, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Canadian Poetry, Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
This is a collection of some of my most recent poems written from 2007 to 2010 published in 2012, a period of great transition in my life. It includes the four poems created for my first novel, Camelia in Winter. They cover a range of topics and themes but mostly address personal struggle in a sea of change.The January, 2014 version, includes some political poems on the theme of displacement.
Camelia in Winter
Price: $12.99 USD. Words: 109,620. Language: Canadian English. Published: July 19, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
(Fiction). Novel about love and adventure on a Canadian artist's teaching stint in South Korea. While exploring Korea, past and present, she learns more about herself. She ends up settling questions of her own identity and relationships.
Impressing Heaven
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 33,750. Language: Canadian English. Published: July 18, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Drama, Nonfiction » Career Guides » Education
This is a collection of short stories based on real conversations with real young adult learners of English in South Korea from 2007 to 2010. You might call it creative non-fiction. As these individuals relayed their life situations and dilemmas to me, I imagined the unfolding drama of struggling with identity, negotiating global English, and making career decisions, putting myself in their shoes.