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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Anne Barwell: Family & Reflection

Today I’d like to showcase Anne Barwell’s re-release, Family and Reflection! It’s a 76k word story, part of The Sleepless City, a shared world with Elizabeth Noble.

When a rebel werewolf and a vampire thief fall in love, only one thing is certain—trouble.

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Boggslake—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Boggslake for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.

Authors Note: This story was originally released in 2015 by another publisher. This edition has been re-edited.


Excerpt:

“If someone had told me twenty years ago I’d be having a conversation about something like this with a vampire, I’d have told them they were crazy.”

“You’re having this conversation with a friend,” Declan corrected him. “It doesn’t matter what we are, but who we are.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“I want to.” Declan thought for a moment, wanting the right words. Why was this so difficult? He’d given advice to Jonas and Simon many times without any trouble.

“We’re both as bad as each other, yeah?” Lucas seemed sad.

“Why do you say that, and about what?” Declan let go of Lucas.

“I’m a werewolf, and you’re a vampire—”

“You’ve only noticed that now?” Declan interrupted dryly. He walked back to his chair, adjusting it so he was opposite Lucas and could see his face.

Lucas laughed, but this time it sounded natural, not forced. “I’ve gotten used to living at the castle. I love it here, and the guys are my friends. Most of the time I forget we’re different. They’re family. I don’t care what they are. It’s like you said. The important thing is who they are.” He sobered. “Then crap like this goes down… Why do I suddenly feel as though I’m a part of the pack again and need to follow their stupid rules?”

“You’re a part of whatever family you want to be, Lucas.” Declan knew what he wanted—needed—to say now. “One thing I’ve learned with having a long life is that family is who you choose. I didn’t get on with mine that well. I had a father who had expectations too.” He pulled himself up sharply before he went anywhere near those memories. Very little of what he’d done had pleased his father. “We might be different, you and I, mon ami, but in many ways we’re the same.”

“I kind of get the expectation thing with you guys.” Lucas paused and looked apologetic before continuing. “Simon’s not said much about his past, but I get the impression his father expected him to do stuff he didn’t want to do as well.” He scowled. “Be a good son and carry on the family name and traditions. I’m guessing Forge went through the same thing, but he’s never said anything about it. At least not to me.”

“Why do you get it with us?” Declan figured he already knew the answer but wanted to be certain he and Lucas were talking about the same thing.

“You’re a lot older than I am. I can understand this stuff going on a hundred, or even two—”

“Closer to three hundred,” Declan said.

“Yeah, that. You’re old. No offense.” Lucas waved one hand.

“None taken.” Declan couldn’t help but smile. “I know I’m old. But you know what they say about fine wine?”

“Yeah, and, hey, I’m not complaining.” Lucas took a long drink of coffee. “You interrupted my flow. I was making a point here.”

“Sorry.”

“So you’re old, so I expect that kind of stuff from you guys. It was a long time ago.” Lucas growled low in his throat. “But us… the pack… we… they’re carrying on like we’re still living in that society. I’ve told my father that he needs to move with the times or the pack will be left behind. Sure, they use technology, but for the rest of it, you’d think we’d only just gotten off the Mayflower or something.”

“It takes a long time for some people to accept change.” Declan leaned over and brushed a lock of hair back from Lucas’s forehead. “Some never do.” He’d seen vampires who couldn’t move past what their lives had been like as humans. Most of them hadn’t survived.

“Yeah.” Lucas swallowed. He shook his head when Declan started to move his chair farther back and away from temptation. “I don’t mind you touching me like that,” he said softly.

“I should…” Declan hadn’t thought, just reacted. He’d meant what he’d said about flirting and had no intention of leading Lucas on. “We’re friends,” he said finally.

“I wouldn’t be talking to you about this stuff if we weren’t.” Lucas looked like he was about to say something but cleared his throat instead. “I know you’re kind of touchy-feely and all that. So am I. So—”

A loud knock sounded at the front door.

“Now what?” Lucas muttered.

Boggs materialized in front of them. He looked annoyed. “There are two gentlemen at the door,” he said. “I don’t know who exactly they are, but I heard them talking before they knocked. They’re from the council.”

“I already apologized about that weird stuff in the garbage,” Lucas said.

“Not that council.” Boggs rolled his eyes. “The other one.”

About the Author:

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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.