Author Interview: C.F. Barrows {+ Giveaway!}

Tell us a little about yourself first.
Well, I'm nineteen years old and a former homeschooler. I come from a family of five kids (I'm the fourth), and we're all pretty much nuts in our own ways. I'm a Christian, and plan to publish only books with Christian themes and messages, as I see very little point in writing if what I produce does not bring glory to God, who gave me my ability to write in the first place. I also possess some OCD tendencies, which have earned me the nickname 'Monk' with my family members. I am a first degree black belt in Taekwondo, but am inactive due to Lyme disease. And I am a Grammar Geek. Not a Nazi, but I may go insane if grammar has been mistreated and I'm powerless to do anything about it.

Okay, now for questions! How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. Poetry was big for several years, and I've been coming up with stories (however ridiculous) since I was quite young. The oldest story I've managed to dig up is from when I was eight or nine, but I'm sure it's not the first thing I ever wrote. I only got serious about writing in high school, though.

Why did you start writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
I've always been overly imaginative and loved books and stories. I can't remember any particular reason for it. I just have always been a storyteller in one way or another. And no – when I was little, some of my desired careers included: archaeologist, astronaut, singer, actress, and veterinarian. Even in high school, I was torn between becoming a writer and becoming a concert pianist.

What do you do when you're not writing?
I love to play the piano, and often compose pieces or arrangements for it. I also love to sketch, especially when the subjects are my characters. I play the harmonica, as well, and love to play around with photo editing sometimes, which helps me practice for creating my book covers.

Man, everyone in our writers' group seems so creative. People ask me what I do in my free time and I'm like, "Um, what everyone between 15 and 25 does - Netflix!" Nothing wrong with it, of course... haha.

What is your writing process? Do you write regularly at certain times or just when inspiration hits?
I tend to write mostly when inspiration hits, but there are times when I will sit myself down, open my computer, and force myself to write something, often with the help of Write or Die. Most of my writing happens at night, but as I said, there are times when I force myself to write at times that are outside my comfort zone.

What genres have you written?
Since The Sehret Chronicles and the books therein are non-magical fantasy, and I've never published any other books, people might think I'm solely a fantasy writer. But that's not true at all. In fact, my primary genre – the one I've read most, and the one I originally thought I would write – is suspense. I also love science-fiction and dystopian, and as of now, most of my plot bunnies – my story ideas that nag at me whenever I'm trying to work on something else – are science-fiction, and a couple are dystopian. When I was younger, I also dabbled in inspirational fiction, and I attempted a mystery once. Almost everything has been geared towards a YA audience. So I've been all over the place, in terms of genres.

Which are you - pantser or plotter?
I think I'm a hybrid. As near as I can tell, this is my writing process:

  1. Get an idea for an intriguing story and work through the plot in my head a bit
  2. Start writing, sure this will be great, and I'll have so much fun writing it
  3. Get a chapter or two in and realize that I have no idea what I'm doing
  4. Try to push through for a couple of months until I can't take the frustration anymore
  5. Sit down and write out the plot, usually a list of key scenes with maybe some filler material in-between
  6. Go back to the story with renewed vigor and get a lot of writing done
  7. Watch as deviations occur and realize halfway through that the plot has gone out the window, except for some basic elements

It's pretty predictable, and it seems to be what I do every time. So it's rather funny to me that I always get stuck on step 3 or 4 and think I'll never finish whatever project I've started until I remember step 5.

What is your book about? Target age range?
This book, The Merchant's Son, is a prequel to my first novel, The Follower, and thus tells the backstories of a few of the major characters from the first. However, I've been told that it stands well enough on its own, and it's not necessary to read 'The Follower' to understand 'The Merchant's Son'. I'd suppose the target audience is teenagers, but those in other age groups should enjoy it, as well, and two of the major characters are far, far out of that age range, so adults might relate well to them. Here is the blurb:

Sheth Terrem is the son of traveling merchants, making one last stop in the bordertown of Lans before they return home with their newly-acquired merchandise. But then tragedy strikes, and a simple promise sends Sheth to live with a man he's barely met, who seems as though the last thing he wants is an orphaned teenager to look after. 
Sern Jesyn expected to look after the boy for a day, perhaps a week or two at the most. With unrest in the streets and among those who walk them, living alone is trial enough. Now that their time together has been termed indefinite, and long-suppressed memories come back to haunt him, he is uneasy at the thought of following through on his word. 
But what neither of them knows is that their trouble did not end with the riot. Rather, it lives on in the surviving rioters, and in a boy called Siran, who has begun to find keeping his nose out of his older brother's business both difficult and increasingly dangerous.

Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?
I'm terrible at picking favorites, as I tend to love almost all of my characters, including the antagonists. (Well, I loathe the Saethen with every fiber of my being, but they don't count here.) But if I had to pick someone, it would probably be either Gaevra or Sern. Gaevra is the first mother I've ever followed in a story, and I love how she's such a sweetheart, and a mama bear at the same time. You touch her baby – or anyone else's baby in her presence, for that matter – you had better get yourself right with God. In a similar way, Sern is the first protagonist I've created who was over the age of twenty-five. I love his personality, how he tries so hard to keep himself in check, but also is not easily subdued or outwitted. He's such a strong person, but at the same time finds his strength in Yahveh, and sticks to his guns no matter how the odds are stacked against him. I admire him, and think of him almost as a role model. Of course, Siran is also my baby, and I want to squeeze him. He makes me cry (no joke). But I think Gaevra and Sern are my favorites.

Are you planning any other books?
Oh, goodness, yes. The Sehret Chronicles alone will consist of probably six or seven books, give or take a book. And I have so many ideas chasing one another around in my head, several of which I think could work. If I wrote all of my ideas into individual novels, I would end up with well over a dozen, not counting the two I've already written and published. I'm always confused by the question, “How do you come up with all these ideas?” To me, it seems like there's an idea factory running inside my head, which is occasionally stimulated by outside sources, and if I don't use the ideas it churns out, the factory will explode. There's no real work involved in coming up with my ideas. They just come. The work is in wrangling and developing them into something worthwhile.

I can relate! Anyway, thanks for coming today!

One lucky (USA address) winner will receive a signed copy of C.F.'s new book, The Merchant's Son!

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C. F. Barrows writes not only to entertain, but to share with her generation the good news of Jesus Christ. She is a homeschool graduate, and lives in Northern Indiana with her family, a hyperactive dog, and hundreds of fictional characters birthed by her own over-active imagination. She is the self-published author of The Sehret Chronicles: The Follower and its prequel, The Sehret Chronicles: The Merchant's Son. To find out more about C. F. Barrows, visit her on Facebook.


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