AUTHOR INTERVIEW 106 – Barbara Carter

Barbara Carter                     

Nova Scotia, Canada

Age 62

Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
My interest in drawing began around the age of ten.
In my teen years I wanted to pursue art as a career, but circumstances prevented that from happening.
In my early twenties I threw out my art supplies and did what everyone around me was doing-I got married and started a family.
During this time I discovered quilting.
My younger sister (who didn’t sew at all) bought a quilting magazine and announced she was going to make herself a quilt.
Even though our mother had quilted in her younger years, it was not something she had taught us.
I fell in love with the images in that magazine and soon learned to make necessary items for our home: cushions, drapes, quilts-and the quilt my sister had wanted to make.


At twenty-eight years old I had three children under the age of four when the desire to create my own images was something I could no longer deny.
Finding myself with no art supplies and not enough money to buy any. I searched for a solution…


My mother had given me an antique frame from a yard sale. For months it hung empty on the wall in our bathroom. Every time I looked at it I tried to think of something special to put in it.
In January 1987, it all came together in a flash of inspiration-I’d fill the frame with small appliqued black, white and gray faces, similar to a flower garden quilt pattern I’d seen in a book.
The only hitch being, I’d never appliqued before, but I was willing to take it on.
A young girl cannot understand why she should feel so alone in a house filled with so many. Or why her mother collects people like others collect stamps or teacups. The six-bedroom house is filled with children and elderly adults, noise and confusion. Anything can happen at any moment. Her mother insists that Barbara Ann has everything a child could ever want… but Barbara Ann feels something is missing.
By observing those around her she fears for her future. Her mother controls a young woman living with the family, keeping her trapped and unhappy and afraid to ever leave. Deep inside, Barbara Ann knows that this is the kind of life her mother wants for her and that happiness will depend on finding a way to break free. Hope is offered by meeting people in a rental property nearby, people unlike others in the neighborhood: hippies, artists, girls from the city, a black man and a rock and roll band. Barbara Ann must sort out what to believe in, whom to trust and how to find the love and happiness she desperately seeks.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?

Barbara Carter: Writing the first draft is the most difficult. I find it emotionally and physically draining.

Romelia: DOES YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER?

Barbara Carter: Yes.

Romelia: IF YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY AS A CHILD OR TEENAGER TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER AS AN ADULT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Barbara Carter: I wouldn’t have dropped out of high school. I would have furthered my educational studies.

Romelia: HOW LONG ON AVERAGE DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?

Barbara Carter: I had had a first draft written years previous to publishing. I work on numerous writing projects at a time. So hard to judge. It took me sixteen years to finish writing and publishing my first book. It was the hardest to write and took the longest.

Romelia: DO YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK?

Barbara Carter: Not really. I think you can always use some creative exercise to get back writing again.

Romelia: AT WHAT POINT DO YOU THINK SOMEONE SHOULD CALL THEMSELVES A WRITER?

Barbara Carter: I think if they enjoy the act of writing and they write and it’s what they want to further develop, then call yourself a writer! It is really only a label, anyway.

Romelia: WHAT DIFFERENCE DO YOU SEE BETWEEN A WRITER AND AN AUTHOR?

Barbara Carter: Maybe an author writes more fiction? I don’t often think about it.

I think if you create a story of any kind you are an author. Call yourself what you will.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU PROCESS AND DEAL WITH NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS?

Barbara Carter: It is one person’s opinion. I don’t feel that they really understood my book. I found it interesting that they were apparently okay with reading about the abuse of children, but when it came to the abuse of an animal, they stopped reading the book and gave me a bad review.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR WRITING PROCESS?

Barbara Carter: I think the most difficult part is finding readers. It’s what comes after writing and publishing a book. All the promotion that is required. Time I would much rather spend writing new work.

Romelia: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING OR WHEN DID YOU START?

Barbara Carter: I wrote in my teen years and I created visual art. I felt I had to choose between the two. Felt I could not do both. So I went with the visual arts and did not come back to writing until my mid 40s when I felt that I would lose my mind if I did not get all that was within me out on paper.

Romelia: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WRITER WORKING ON THEIR FIRST BOOK?

Barbara Carter: Don’t get discouraged. Don’t feel you are not good enough. Keep learning. Keep writing. Don’t give up on your passion. Don’t give up on your dreams!

Romelia: WHAT, TO YOU, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING?

Barbara Carter: Being able to pull a reader into the story. I think “good” writing means different things to different people. Often good writing is what suits the needs of that particular reader.

Romelia: WHAT COMES FIRST FOR YOU – THE PLOT OR THE CHARACTERS – AND WHY?

Barbara Carter: Since I write non-fiction/memoir. I already have the characters. It’s finding where the stories begin and end. The subject matter, theme, all leading to the plot.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS?

Barbara Carter: As I mentioned, for me it is finding the experiences in my life that can be turned into stories, to add dialogue and all techniques of fiction to bring the characters alive.

Romelia: WHEN DID YOU FIRST CALL YOURSELF A WRITER?

Barbara Carter: I’m not totally sure, but I know I felt more like a writer when I had my first book published.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS AN AUTHOR?

Barbara Carter: I mainly use Goodreads, and Facebook, a bit on Instagram. It is a slow and time-consuming process. It’s not all about just promoting my work, it’s about making meaningful connections with others.

Romelia: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PART OF PUBLISHING?

Barbara Carter: The self-promotion that is required is the least favorite part for me.

Romelia: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO AN AUTHOR WHO WANTED TO DESIGN THEIR OWN COVER?

Barbara Carter: Well, I guess I would say, do it if you feel you can. I design all of my book covers.

Romelia: HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Barbara Carter: I have written four memoirs and one book of poetry and art combined. I don’t really have a favorite. It’s like trying to pick a favorite child. Each are special in their own way.

Romelia: WHAT PART OF THE BOOK DID YOU HAVE THE HARDEST TIME WRITING?

Barbara Carter: The first draft is the hardest. Pulling stuff from within you that you didn’t consciously know was there. The first book was the hardest for me. Digging up those childhood memories. I became suicidally during the writing of that book. It was a horribly painful time in my life. But it also became one of the most healing experiences!

Romelia: WHAT PART OF THE BOOK WAS THE MOST FUN TO WRITE?

Barbara Carter: Scenes that just seem to flow easily. Dialogue I can clearly remember.

Romelia: WHICH OF THE CHARACTERS DO YOU RELATE TO THE MOST AND WHY?

Barbara Carter: Well, since I write memoir. I guess the character I most relate to is myself.

Romelia: IF YOU’RE PLANNING A SEQUEL. CAN YOU SHARE A TINY BIT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR IT?

Barbara Carter: My books so far always offer a sequel. Once you know the characters you follow them throughout life events. You get to see their development, and how past influences effect future decisions. My next book will focus on two messed-up twenty-something people getting together and forming a family.

Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Barbara Carter: As a grandparent I don’t need to be as serious as I was as a parent. I like to have fun with my grandkids, doing things that I didn’t do as a parent, like taking turns screaming as loud as possible, acting silly. My nickname is Loud Nanny. Their other grandmother is nicknamed Quiet Nanny.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Barbara Carter: I’m creative, yet I like a very structured, routine life.

Though I always look for ways to improve situations and myself.

Something you don’t know about me: for most of my life I have never wore underwear.

But hate of any kind is something I don’t really feel much of, but if I must choose one thing that I hate about the world it would be war, and on a lighter side, wearing a bra!

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