Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Contemporary Romance "In Love and War" by Suzanne Barrett

Scribal Love Welcomes Suzanne Barrett.  She is the author of the Contemporary Romance set in rural Ireland called, "In Love and War" from Turquoise Morning Press.

Editor's Note:  Scribal Love has found out that strangely enough that this story was at one point too controversial for New York Publishing Houses. 

In your mind's eye, picture a small country village in Ireland with the ruins of an abandoned castle in the distance. 

Tell us a bit about YOU that our readers might not know. 

Some years back, I left Corporate America and an engineering job to write full time and haven’t looked back. I live in the country, raise chickens, garden and make jewelry and sell at arts and crafts shows.

What made you want to become a writer?

Suzanne: I have always written: essays, short stories, correspondence with pen pals. I’ve been reading since I was three. My inspiration for wanting to create my own stories was LaVyrle Spencer’s HUMMINGBIRD.

Do you write under a pen name?

I use my own name.

As authors, we love all of our characters.  Is there a certain type of character that is easier to write than another?

I love the tortured hero, the shy and serious heroine (who is usually a reflection of me, or at least a facet of me). Both are easier for me to flesh out than the humorous or quirky.

Do you read in the same genre that you write in?

I love romance and romantic suspense, occasionally, the thriller. I write contemporary and historical and am currently working on my first romantic suspense.

Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

I’m definitely a morning person, up before dawn and writing, checking email with my cup of coffee. If I’m teaching water aerobics, I’m out of the house by 6:45 and back again by 10:30. The rest of my day is divided between writing, editing, working on jewelry and general home/garden tasks. I read and review in the evenings and usually go to bed by nine. With this kind of schedule, that leaves no time for TV. I catch the occasional British mystery on DVD.

Most of us have pretty vivid imaginations when it comes to story lines. Where do your story ideas come from?

From an amazing number of places. 
For my May release, which is about a female structural engineer who’s sent to England to work on an antenna support platform, I got the idea while working on...wait for antenna support platform in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Once, I took an unknown mountain road that dead-ended at a cattle guard with a dirt road winding down to a house, almost obscured from view. I did some what ifs: what if it was a dilapidated old Victorian lived in by three women and in need of a handyman? What if this handyman was an Irishman one step away from being found by ICE and deported­a man who needed to hide? 

For my upcoming release "IN LOVE AND WAR," January 24th from Turquoise Morning Press, I spent part of a winter in County Waterford researching a number of things for some articles I was writing for Irish publications. 

I had just interviewed a dairy farmer and cheesemaker, and then while there saw a program on RTE about a female farmer who single-handedly ran a sheep farm. Bingo,  I had my heroine’s occupation, plus the plausibility! Interestingly enough, nearby was a converted castle keep that was being rented out. It became my heroine’s and the place where her lodger, my embittered war correspondent, comes to heal. What if his hatred of bloody, centuries-long conflict was his Achilles’ heel, and the heroine came from an Irish Republican family with secrets? Wow! I had my story.

IN LOVE AND WAR is truly the book of my heart. It was twice a Golden Heart finalist manuscript, but because of the Irish conflict, unsalable to New York. Quinn Lawlor comes from a privileged family, his father a flag-waving pro-Republican Irishman who emigrated to the United States and who hasn’t forgotten the Cause. Quinn, on the other hand, has spent years trying to put it behind him and is estranged from his Irish political father. Because of this, Quinn is deeply apolitical and carries a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder for any group that espouses violence. Meaghann Power comes from a family with an IRA background, one with secrets to hide. She is exactly the kind of woman he should not love. Meaghann, older than Quinn, lives in a tight-knit village where gossip could ruin a life...hers. Dare she give in to the attraction that simmers between them? An attraction that could spell disaster for him as well as for her?

Writing about the conflict seemed natural. For four years I was the Ireland for Visitors Guide, and I ’ve been a student of Irish history for years (I have a five-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling bookcase with nothing but Irish history and culture books.) I made numerous visits to Ireland and managed to get interviews with people who wouldn’t open up to the average tourist.

"It was twice a Golden Heart finalist manuscript,
 but because of the Irish conflict, unsalable to New York."
Quinn is the perfect tortured hero who’s had his career jerked away from him.  Meaghann is the typical care giver, a woman afraid of growing old before her time but who has had to bear all the responsibility in her family with none of the rewards.

I would love for my readers to tell me how this setting and story resonates with them. Do they feel Meaghann’s struggle? Can they forgive Quinn his prejudice? Is the village of Timnagh real to them? What about the secondary characters? And most importantly, from the interview and following snippet, would they want to read this book?

IN LOVE AND WAR excerpt:

County Waterford - 1993

     Father Donovan returned and directed Meaghann into his study. "Now," he said, lowering his robust frame onto an overstuffed chair, indicating she should do the same. "Tell me about this boarder. I trust you're...having no difficulty?"

     Meaghann sank into the opposite chair. "I've rented out the keep. Uncle Tom suggested it, and it seemed a good idea. It's working well. And Quinn-- "

     The priest took the tray from the elderly housekeeper and set it on a table. "Oh, thank you Mrs. Aherne." He poured two cups of tea and offered one to Meaghann.

     "Quinn, you say?" he asked after settling back in his chair. "Have I met the fellow?"

     Meaghann cast an uneasy glance at the priest's piercing eyes. Clear and questioning--definitely questioning. "Quinn Lawlor. His family left Timnagh in the sixties. You might remember his father, Patrick."

     "Hmmm. I'd just come down from Maynooth then," the priest mused. He took a bite from a square of cake on his plate. "Yes, of course I remember Paddy. A firebrand if ever I saw one." His brows formed a continuous line across intense blue eyes. "Not unlike his son, I'm told. A man in a dangerous occupation."

     "Then you know about Quinn."

     Father Donovan contemplated the cup of tea in his hand. "Just what I hear--that he's a war correspondent. I've seen a piece or two about him. Perceptive young man, so they say."

     "He's writing a book, now--since his accident."

     "Why haven't I seen him at Mass?"

     "He's...busy, I guess."

     The bushy brows rose. "Too busy to keep the sacraments?" The priest subjected her to a precise scrutiny. "My dear girl, you realize that having a man living on your property will cause tongues to wag."

     Meaghann twiddled the strap on her shoulder bag. "Tongues wag whether there's cause or not. I intend to pay it no mind, Father."

     "Just so long as you know what you're inviting. I'll not see God mocked in my parish. 'Tis easy for a woman alone to be beguiled by a man such as that one."

     A chilling silence settled over the room. "What do you mean 'such as that one'?"

     "Read the paper, my girl. Your lodger has a fair reputation with the ladies."

     Meaghann plunked her cup and saucer down on the tray. "His life is his own business, Father. Not mine."

      The priest tented pudgy fingers over the black worsted wool of one thigh. "The one that wears the shoe knows where it pinches, girl. See you remember it." His fleshy lips thinned. "We don't need another Sean Foley. One fool in a parish is enough."

Thank you Suzanne for Dropping By!

You can find Suzanne Barrett on the web at:

my website:

My Irish website:
My jewelry website:
My blog:

Her books: Late Harvest

In Love and War - 1/2011

1 comment:

  1. Writing to let you know I've nominated you for the Stylish Blogger award. Click on the link for details:


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