It is with great pleasure that I introduce Author Barbara Sissel! She is a wonderful woman that I had the fortune to meet through our mutual friend, Melissa Foster, and the wonderful world of Facebook.
Welcome to my blog! First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you so much, Emerald for having me. I appreciate having this opportunity to talk about my work! I have always wanted to write, but I have taken a roundabout path to doing it.
Well, I’m more than happy to have you!
Along the way, I’ve worked as a flight attendant, a department store fashion model, a children’s chairside dental assistant and in a supervisory capacity overseeing the secretarial staff of an oilfield supply company. In between, I cleaned houses to earn extra money, tended gardens and I continue to do freelance writing and editing. I raised two sons and in choosing to stay pretty much at home as a mom, I became a professional public school volunteer. But no matter what other occupation I was engaged in, I wrote and read. I’ve always had my nose in a book or I’ve been writing one or thinking about writing one. I’ve sometimes wished I could paint or play classical piano instead. It’s almost as if writing chose me rather than the other way.
I was around eleven, reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte when a scene in the book moved me to tears, Catherine and Heathcliff, their hopeless situation. Their whole world was so alive for me, as if I was there. The sensation was almost out-of-body and it thrilled me that a story could have such power. I’d had the sensation before through reading and many times since, but that particular time, I popped up my head and thought: I want to do this. I want to take readers out of themselves this way. I want to create a world where they can live for a while. I wanted to somehow pay forward the joy I found in reading books. That urge never really left me. I took detours from it, but the desire was there, a whisper in my ear.
Do you write in any other genre? Or plan on it in the future?
In the beginning, I tried writing historical and then suspense, but I love the way the stories come now. According to the folks who categorize writing by genre, what I write is upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with a fine wire of suspense. I can’t foresee that I would ever write other than the way I do, although, someday, I would like to write a memoir.
I do my best work first thing in the morning. I try to be at my desk before eight and work solid until noon. I don’t listen to music, but a few years ago, I came across a recording of the ocean, waves breaking on the shore. It’s embedded with voices giving positive messages and I have it set so it plays on an endless quiet loop. I don’t know what effect the positive messages have had, but the sound of the ocean is very soothing. I think my muse loves it. She always reminds me if I’ve neglected to put the recording in motion.
If you had to pick a theme song for your books, what would it be?
Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The way the music builds, that gorgeous crescendo, the falling away of the notes. If only my fiction could follow such flawless pacing. It’s what I aim for.
What are your books about? What was your inspiration for them?
A few years ago when I was learning about pitching and the importance of being able to sum up this very thing–the nature of my work–for someone in two seconds, I came up with this answer: My over-arching theme is Law and Order meets Lifetime Television for Women (left the air in 2006). I write about families in jeopardy, the collateral damage when one of a family’s members gets into trouble as the result of a crime or an accusation of a crime. I’m interested in the human spirit, especially the stories of survival of horrific events. I write about having hope in the face of every reason that says you shouldn’t. There are so many real-life stories about the indomitability of the human heart. It’s an endless source of inspiration to me.
It would be hard to choose only one. As I write–when it’s going really well, that is–I don’t feel I am in my own skin or head or heart. I’m so with the character that their voice, actions, motivations just dictate and I write what they say. Personally I may not even like them in the moment, but in a sense I am them, and there’s a bond. It’s hard to explain. There are times that I’ve caught myself, even away from writing, having thoughts that are focused on their concerns as if I’m them and I have to give myself a mental shake. It’s looney!
I don’t think we’re ever truly our own person any longer as a writer. We are many characters rolled in one!
Are you working on any new projects? What can we expect to see from you now?
I love this question because it gives me a chance to share the most wonderful news. I recently signed with MIRA to do two books. The first one, EVIDENCE OF LIFE, will be published in April of 2013 and it’s the story of a woman caught in a web of lies after her husband and daughter go missing during a camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, challenging everything she believes about her family and her life. I will be chronicling the progress from now until the novel’s debut on my blog and have posted the first entry here.
Congratulations on your book deal! I’m thrilled for you! And thanks for stopping by on my blog. It has been a joy hosting you! I wish you nothing but success!
You can connect with Barbara through: