Writing Romance in Newfoundland: Interview With Victoria Barbour

Against Her Rules

Against Her Rules

Despite the fog, the forbidding crags, the marshes and the stormy Atlantic – or perhaps because of all these things – Newfoundland is an amazingly romantic place. The perfect setting for Victoria Barbour’s light-hearted and enjoyable romance novel: Against Her Rules. I am happy to welcome Victoria today as she continues her blog tour celebrating the release of her novel.

Against Her Rules is set in a tiny Newfoundland outport – Heart’s Ease – and features Elsie Walsh, a B&B owner who has one rule: no sleeping with the guests. That is, until hunky Campbell Scott shows up. The result is a fun summer read with a memorable cast of characters, including Elsie’s indomitable Aunt Ida. After reading the book (and laughing out loud in places) I had plenty of questions for Victoria, and I’m really pleased to have her with me today to answer them.

What’s it feel like to put your ‘baby’ out there in the world?

It’s both terrifying and exhilarating all at once. Any time you put yourself out in the public space, you have to be open to the idea that not everyone will enjoy what you’ve produced. But you have to be willing to take those chances. I certainly wouldn’t put out a book I wasn’t happy with, and I’m very proud of Against Her Rules. It really is a huge accomplishment for me, to finally get a novel out there. And so far the feedback has been really supportive, which makes me so happy.

When is the sequel to Against Her Rules out and can you tell us a bit about it?

The next novel in the series should be out in early fall. I’d like to say early October, but we’ll see how that goes. You never really know how things might pan out. I’ve always been a deadline driven writer, so I need to have a date in mind just so I can knuckle down and get to it. The next book is about one of the characters introduced in Against Her Rules. I don’t want to give it away at this point, but there are several characters introduced in this book that will get their own novels. You’ll have to stay tuned.

Newfoundland is the most romantic province of Canada. What do you think?

I think it is, but I might be biased. I have a deep love for Newfoundland and Labrador, and think we have a setting that is just perfect for falling in love. People, of course, fall in love the world over, but I think in order to write a believable romance, you have to feel passionate about your setting. I also think Newfoundland is a place people should explore for themselves, and have always wanted to have a Newfoundland link in all of my writing. For me, the biggest compliment a reader could pay my book is to feel compelled to learn more about Newfoundland, and ideally, come here to see it themselves.

What’s the reaction from family/friends and acquaintances when you tell them you’re a romance writer and how do you deal with it?

In the beginning, I was really nervous admitting that I was writing romance. There is a stigma to genre fiction in general, and romance in particular, almost as if it isn’t ‘real’ writing. But all writers have the same process. There’s a story inside you that you want to tell. I love romance because it promises the reader a specific experience and delivers on it. If someone picks up a romance novel, they are expecting a happily-ever-after ending. And they are expecting to be taken away from the real world for a while. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something deep and thought-provoking, and other times, you’re in the mood for an escape from reality. Romance, Sci-fi, Fantasy, all these books deliver just that. As for how people have reacted, so far it’s been fantastic. Everyone has been very supportive. I think, in the end, people realize that to write any sort of book is a huge accomplishment.

What does it mean to write genre fiction in Newfoundland? Have you faced any barriers? What advice would you have for genre fiction writers from NL?

I think there are genre fiction writers here that are in hiding. My best advice is to put yourself out there. I was surprised, and thrilled, to find out that an old friend of mine was writing romance. She invited me to join her writing group, The Scribe Wenches, and there I was lucky enough to meet another couple of genre writers, yourself included. It’s so important to have a community around you, and to have other writers who are willing to read and critique your work. I haven’t faced any barriers, and once I was willing to come out as Romance writer, the support I’ve gotten has been wonderful. The first step is stepping up and saying, “Hey world, this is what I write, and I’m proud of it.” The rest just falls into place. Keep writing, keep learning everything you can about what’s current in your chosen genre, finish your book, and don’t be afraid to take a proactive approach and consider self-publishing.

Well said, Victoria. Are there any local publishers for romance and fantasy fiction in NL?

Not that I know of. A few years ago there were four local romance novels published, but I don’t know what happened after that. I should try and find those writers. 🙂

I heard that you’ve been working on a fantasy novel too – can you tell us something about that project (I love fantasy!)

Oh, I have an epic fantasy series that’s in various stages. It began with the question “What did the old gods do when people stopped believing in them?” and I just ran with it from there. It’s a trilogy, and there’s one book set in Newfoundland. Each book explores various themes and historical events. I want to keep it kind of vague, so let’s leave it at that.

Thanks Victoria. I look forward to reading the sequel to Against Her Rules, as well as your fantasy trilogy!

For those who would like a taste of the romantic setting of Against Her Rules, read below:

As he pulled up the gravel driveway he began to see why the publishers had decided to send him here. If there was any place to get inspired, this was it.

At first glance you’d think this was a desolate place. Its isolation and the sparse landscape made you think of loneliness. But then subtle things stood out. The blue jays fighting over seeds in a feeder shaped like the sun. Crisp white sheets flapping in the air, despite the mist, the clothesline dancing in the wind. Even the way all the tips of the small juniper trees pointed in the same direction. Looking toward the water, the view was breathtaking. White caps formed on the waves, and still he could see gulls riding them out with ease, as if this was their own personal surfer’s nirvana.

Shutting off the engine, he stepped out and took a deep breath. The wet, cool air filled his lungs. He smiled. This might be a good project after all.

Excerpt From: Barbour, Victoria. “Against Her Rules.” Victoria Barbour, 2013-06-05. iBooks. This material is protected by copyright.

Victoria Barbour

VictoriaVictoria lives on the island of Newfoundland, and is fiercely proud of her home. She can imagine no better setting for her works, and hopes that her readers will one day come to witness Newfoundland and Labrador’s rustic beauty for themselves. When she’s not writing, or trying to convince people to visit her home, she’s busy with her day-to-day life as a mother, wife, and marketing communications specialist.

She was born in St. John’s, and raised above her family’s fish and chips restaurant. She has traveled and lived in other parts of Canada, but chose to make her home where her heart has long resided. Victoria has a degree in History from Memorial University of Newfoundland, with a minor in Newfoundland Studies. The only thing that stands between her and a Master’s degree in History from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia is her thesis. She has a background in broadcast journalism, advertising, and marketing. She is a proud member of both the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and their affiliate chapter, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada (RWAC).

Victoria counts herself lucky to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive family, and thanks her husband daily for his unerring faith in her, and for being a wonderful father to their infant son.

To find out more about Victoria and her writing plus where you can purchase her book, visit her website!

About Rati Mehrotra

Science fiction and fantasy writer. I blog at: ratiwrites.com Thanks for dropping by!
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