Interview: Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell

Please welcome Anne Barwell to the blog today!

Thanks for hosting me today.  I’m in the process of republishing my backlist. Shadowboxing is the first of my WWII Echoes Series. It released on 8th November, and book 2 (Winter Duet) and 3 (Comes a Horseman) will follow in January and March. I’m excited to be re-leasing this series.

It’s lovely to have you! Now let’s plough into the questions…first, what started you writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. In primary school I got impatient waiting for the next book in a series so a couple of friends and I wrote our version of it.  So I guess I was writing fanfic way before the event of the internet, or even computers as this was back in the 1970s.

When I got my first PC in 2000 and discovered the internet one of the first things I found was fanfiction, and thought, I could that. I have been doing that.  And after honing my skills doing that for several years, I moved onto original stories. I’d already written original characters, and AUs so it wasn’t that much of a jump.

Where do you write?

I have my dining room table set up as my office space.  Although I write on a laptop, it rarely moves from its spot there.

What do you like to read?

I read the same way I write, across several genres. If something looks interesting I’ll pick it up.  That can be quite dangerous as I work in a public library as my day job. I do have a leaning towards paranormal/fantasy, with a preference for psi powers and urban, and I love historicals, particularly those set in the early to mid 20th century and around the world wars.  If I read detective, it usually crosses genres. 95% of what I read these days would be MM, but I still have my favourites that aren’t.  I also read YA, graphic novels (huge Bat family fan) and the occasional children’s fiction series.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, one of my all time favourite books. I can’t shelve it without picking it up and re-reading passages from it.

Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon. I love the combination of characters, time travel, and historical. Reading this book was one of the things that pushed me into writing my own.

Badlands by Morgan Brice, which I still need to grab in paperback.  I love the mix of relationship and paranormal.

This question was a difficult one. So many good books and not enough time to read.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I love my online groups. The ones I belong to are very supportive, and provide a wonderful community. I wouldn’t have taken my first scary step into indie publishing without them.

Apart from the wider LGBTQ writing community, I need to give a shout out to the New Zealand Rainbow Romance group. I’ve had the privilege to meet many of them real life which has been great, and I consider them not only writing colleagues but friends.   I’m also a member of RWNZ.

A few months ago a couple of local writer friends and I set up a group on Slack where we check in daily and provide support and a sounding board. We also meet up on Zoom once a week with awesome accountability goals.

I also have a great alpha reader, and brilliant co-writers.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have a tortie cat called Kaylee. She’s nearly 16 years old and has mellowed a bit as she’s got older. Thankfully she’s stopped bringing home dog bones stolen from the neighbour’s dogs. It’s never a good sign when you’re chatting with the neighbours, she walks past, and they respond with “oh, that’s your cat.”

I play violin in a community orchestra, and still play piano when I have time. I was a music teacher for ten years, which is why a lot of my characters are musicians.

I’ve also been a member of a science fiction club for over twenty years. We meet once a month for a catch up, and in between that for movie watching etc.

I also have regular catch ups with friends for movie nights, and the occasional board game evenings.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Shadowboxing is the first in my WWII Echoes Rising series. I first started writing this book almost twenty years ago, and after releasing my first book, dusted it off and finished it, and the rest of the three book series. It originally published in 2012.

I’ve always loved stories set during WWII, and couldn’t find anything with gay protagonists, so decided to write what I wanted to read.  These guys, and this series, will always hold a special place in my heart. I enjoyed getting to know them as I wrote their story, and I learnt more about the time period than I wanted to know.  Although the research was somewhat daunting I enjoyed it, and it’s left me wanting to write more historicals. So I blame this for my WWI story, On Wings of Song, as well as my bunnies for a 1920s historical paranormal detective series, and eventually a 1950s detective (in which one of these guys will have a supporting role).

Shadowboxing: Echoes Rising Book 1

Complete their mission or lose everything.

Berlin, 1943

An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.

Author’s note: This is the third edition of Shadowboxing. The first and second editions were released by another publishing house.  This story has been re-edited, and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.

Buy Shadowboxing

About Anne

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.

In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes.  She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ.

Anne’s books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated three times in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy, once for Best Historical, and once for All-Time Favourite M/M Author.

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