THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR by Barbara Claypole White: An Author Interview & A Book Giveaway

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 Andrea Lochen is the winner of the signed copy of THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR!

 

 

Author Barbara Claypole White is not new to Women’s Fiction Writers or to many of you! She’s the author of THE UNFINISHED GARDEN and now, THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR. One of my favorite parts of being both an author and a book blogger is reading some books before everyone else. I hold them close, like well-kept secrets with an expiration date. I know I get to share, and when, but for a while they’re mine-all-mine! I read an ARC (advance reader copy) of THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR and loved it so much I wrote a blurb for the finished book. So you won’t be surprised that I loved it as both a reader and a writer. Barbara’s books traverse some dark areas, but she does so with such great care and respect for her characters that it’s a pleasure to read. Barbara’s powers of description (and they are powers) are remarkable, as she paints vivid pictures of her story for the reader to get lost in. 

My blurb of THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR: “In THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR Barbara Claypole White’s elegant prose paints a vivid portrait of multi-generational families, unlikely friendships, crushing loss and binding love. THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR breaks your heart and mends it at the same time.”

Below, Barbara shares her personal journey to write this book, and some tidbits about her next one. And she offers advice on the benefits of failing. 

One winner of a signed copy of THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR will be chosen at random next Wednesday. Just leave a comment about writing or reading or Barbara’s interview to be entered to win. If your email address isn’t part of your entry, either through a link or by adding it to the comment, and you don’t read the blog regularly by subscribing (GASP), we’ll have no way to let you know you’ve won. (Happens ALL THE TIME!) So — include your email! 

Now—please welcome Barbara Claypole White to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo

Barbara Claypole White’s THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR Lets In The Light When It Comes To Love and Loss

0114_9780778314752Amy: Barbara! I’ve been waiting and waiting for the release of THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR because I wanted the rest of the world to be able to read it. Congratulations on writing an eloquent and gripping story.  Now, down to business. Who was the first character, or what was the first bit of TIH to reveal itself to you, or did the story hit you fully formed? 

Barbara: Thank you, Amy, and thanks for having me back on the blog!

I really, really wish my stories walloped me fully formed, but I’m a messy, organic writer who weaves all over the place. My loosey-goosey process is riddled with false starts…and false drafts. THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR started as a ghost story with a dual timeline and a different heroine, and yet the premise has remained unchanged: What could be worse than losing your child? Having to pretend he’s still alive. And THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR has always been about the power of memories.

An older relative was stuck in a memory loop, calling us constantly to rant and rave about his retirement home while blaming us for putting him there. He called again and again and again, each time forgetting the previous call. After one particularly traumatic evening, I thought, “Life can’t get any worse.” Being a writer I realized it could, and I had two dark thoughts: What if something happened to our son and we had to constantly remind this relative? Or would we just pretend our son was still alive to protect this person from constantly reliving unbearable grief?

Those ideas led to Will Shepard and became his dilemma. I knew Will was a writer; I knew he’d lost a young son in horrific circumstances; I knew he was struggling with his aging father’s mashed-up memory. And I knew I would be telling his story.

I found Will through his intriguing description of silence. That description, which opens the novel, gave me clues to his personality: the love of rock climbing that made me wonder if he had Native American ancestry, and the strong connection to the North Carolina forest, which he tries so hard to deny.

Amy: You write wonderful characters who are fractured in one way or another. What’s the appeal of these characters to you (or to your readers)? 

Barbara: I’ve always been drawn to broken people—in real life and in fiction. I like gloriously complex, quirky people who manage to overcome emotional and mental conflict that could, so easily, cripple them. To me, that takes true courage. And if they manage to help others while battling their own demons? Well, that’s a slam dunk.

Much of what I write comes back to my favorite themes—that people who need each other find each other and that you can discover your real family in an unexpected place at an unexpected moment in your life. I can trace both back to my favorite story as a child: the parable of the Good Samaritan. To help a friend is one thing, but to reach out a hand to someone you don’t know? That fills me with the warm fuzzies of hope.

Amy: What was your favorite scene to write in TIH? (No spoilers, of course)

Barbara: My absolute favorite scene comes with too many spoilers, but I do love the first scene with Jacob, Will’s 80-year-old dad who has a penchant for the illicit Wild Turkey he sneaks into Hawk’s Ridge Retirement Community. Jacob has a southern cadence that’s hard for a Brit to reproduce, but I worked and reworked that scene until I could hear him quite clearly. From then on, I had Jacob’s voice. I love Jacob. He’s the heartbeat of the novel and has his own, unique way of interpreting the world despite his short-term memory dysfunction.

In this scene, we go inside Jacob’s head for the first time and see the story seed take root. Jacob has just ended a phone call with Will. During that phone call, Jacob erased the memory of his grandson’s death, and Will, in a moment of grief and exhaustion, tried to protect Jacob by spinning a story. Will pretended his son was traveling around Europe, assuming Jacob would forget. But Jacob, who has never left the state of North Carolina, latches onto My Grandson’s Great European Adventure, and soon Will finds himself trapped in a lie.

Amy: Did it feel different to launch TIH than it did to launch The Unfinished Garden last year? 

Barbara: Very different! I’ve learned to expect nothing, be pleasantly surprised when good things happen, and not check my Amazon rankings. The killer deadline for novel three also helped. (Writing to contract is a fabulous cure for book launch neurosis!) Plus I was blessed to discover—before launch day—that the novel had been chosen as a SIBA Winter 2014 Okra Pick. THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR is my love letter to the little corner of the South where I live: the Orange County forest. Going into the launch with the knowledge that I had the support of Southern indie booksellers made a huge difference to my psyche. It’s like shouting out, “The Oscar’s mine and you can’t take it away even if you trash my red carpet gown.”

Amy: Your novels have remarkably lush settings. You’re an avid gardener. No coincidence, I imagine. Can you tell us another tidbit of your real world you’ve written into your novels? 

Barbara: We live in the middle of the forest that provides the setting for THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR and the opening and closing scenes from THE UNFINISHED GARDEN. In both novels, my heroines share my love of this land. Tilly’s garden is my garden, and Hannah’s relationship to the forest is completely autobiographical. Hannah talks about living breathing history on Saponi Mountain, history that is tangible. I grew up in an English village with a church that celebrated its thousandth birthday when I was a teenager. I walk into that building; I sense the past. I have the same feeling when I enter our forest.

And I’m obsessed with how the light filters through the trees. Yes, my fascination with light and shade comes from being a woodland gardener, but it also comes from my need to find hope in darkness, to find what Leonard Cohen describes as the light that gets through the cracks. My brilliant son has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of his life. We’ve visited hell together, but we’ve always come out the other side—into the sunlight.

Amy: What’s your best advice for any writer embarking on a brand new project? 

Barbara: Give yourself permission to fail. I had a horrible time finding a new story after THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR and then abandoned what I thought was going to be my next project. A different story premise spoke to me, with characters I loved, and that stalled out, too. Following my editor’s brilliant advice, I approached the second story from a different angle and as I did so, finally began to feel a connection—after five months.

You don’t have to know where you’re going but you need the commitment to find out. Show up for work every day, even if it feels like wading through quicksand. And then, without warning, the wading will get easier and you’ll experience that first jolt of passion. Commitment and passion can lead to a wonderful story…

Amy: Okay, I’ll come clean. I asked that because I know you’ve started on your third novel. Anything you can share with us about it—like when it will be published, so we can mark our reading calendars? 

Barbara: We have a tentative release date of June 2015. I’m still working on the first draft, so it’s one huge, glorious mess. I am intrigued, however, to realize that unlike THE UNFINISHED GARDEN and THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR this is not a story of healing. Novel three is a story of acceptance. It’s about what happens when a full-time mother becomes chronically disabled and her emotionally removed, workaholic husband must figure out how to connect with their son—a teenager who is juggling first love, college applications, and a soup of issues that includes Tourette syndrome. Oh, and there’s an elderly, lesbian neighbor called Eudora. Eudora owns a gun, and she’s a squirrel sniper. 🙂

(Ooh, Barbara, I can’t wait!! If you live in the U.S., don’t forget to leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy of THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR!)

Barbara-3English born and educated, Barbara Claypole White writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina. Her husband is an internationally-acclaimed academic; their son is an award-winning young poet / musician. His battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have inspired her to write stories that find healing and hope in the darkness of invisible disabilities such as severe grief or clinical depression. Her characters are quirky and damaged, but they always find the light through the trees (a recurring image in her writing). The Unfinished Garden, Barbara’s debut novel, won the 2013 Golden Quill for Best First Book. The In-Between Hour, her second novel, has been named a Winter 2014 Okra Pick by Southern Indie Bookstores.

Connect with Barbara on her website , Facebook, or Twitter @bclaypolewhite.

39 thoughts on “THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR by Barbara Claypole White: An Author Interview & A Book Giveaway

  1. Congratulations, Barbara! Thanks so much for sharing your writing process here. I love the premise of the story, and congratulations on the gorgeous cover. I know I shouldn’t be tempted by covers, but I always am. : ) Best of luck on novel three! (BTW, Amy, I do have a US address, too… so please include me in the drawing. Thanks!)

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  2. What a lovely interview, Barbara and Amy! I loved The Unfinished Garden–beautiful writing, great characters and story. I am so excited to read The In-Between Hour. Congratulations, Barbara, and good luck with that glorious mess you’re sculpting. I have no doubt it will be a masterpiece.

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  3. For all of us loosey goosey writers who believe in the Good Samitarian, thank you for this interview. My bookshelves are groaning with the books Amy Sue brings to our attention, and The In Between Hour is going to be another purchase!!! I can’t wait to read it! Bravo, Barbara!

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  4. Thanks, Amy and Barbara, for such an insightful interview. I had to laugh at your characterization of your “loosey-goosey” process, but it seems to working very well for you! Can’t wait to delve into The In-between Hour and best of luck with your new work.

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  5. Hey, guys! I’m on the road between an out-of-town book club in one part of the state and a Barnes & Noble reading in another part…. Thanks for all the compliments and good wishes. Not sure about the masterpiece aspect, Lori, but I’m certainly having fun with my glorious mess! Happy reading and happy writing, everyone. And special hug to Amy.

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  6. Barbara, I love your advice here about giving yourself permission to fail, and about how your novels are big glorious messes in the beginning of the process–that’s so nice to hear, especially when we’re all struggling to write “perfect” books! Thank you for this great interview, as always, Amy!

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    • Thanks, Holly. I think I need to write a separate book on ‘everything I learned from being the mother of an OCD kid.’ Part of my journey as a mother has been to learn that my son can’t win every battle against OCD, but the important thing is to regroup and keep on working toward that end goal. I produce so much rubbish when I write but I’ve learned that’s okay. It’s part of my process.

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  7. Congratulations, Barbara, on your latest novel. I’m looking forward to reading THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR after hearing so many terrific things on this blog and from other writers who admire your work.

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  8. What a great interview. However three sentences really resonated with me and I’m putting them up above my computer.”You don’t have to know where you’re going but you need the commitment to find out. Show up for work every day, even if it feels like wading through quicksand. And then, without warning, the wading will get easier and you’ll experience that first jolt of passion.…” Thanks so much for your insight into the writer’s mind.

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    • Thanks, Ruby. Actually, most of the time I have no clue where I’m going or what I’m doing, but somehow it all works out. That faith gets me through the bad days. (Even if the clean laundry never makes it off the bedroom floor…)

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  9. Congratulations, Barbara, on your newest novel. The interview just makes me want to read your book right now! Such lushness of characters and scenery and background AND I love broken characters that heal. Thank goodness for writers like you.
    Patti

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  10. What an awesome interview! Hearing Barbara’s voice was like finding a precious jewel. I’m in the middle of writing my first novel and her story and characters resonated with me. I, too, have a heart to write about broken people and broken relationships. The adventure is following them as they struggle to overcome obstacles, internal and external, and find healing. Barbara’s novels are going on my reading list.

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  11. What a wonderful interview Amy! Congratulations Barbara, I’ve been reading about The In-Between Hour for a while now and my interest keeps growing. Having had a father with some memory issues I can relate to this story so well. It’s bitter sweet. Thanks for the giveaway too….can’t wait to read this one.

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  12. I’m so so happy to hear that someone who writes so beautifully starts out not perfectly. I’ve almost completed The Unfinished Garden and can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

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  13. Love the interview, and especially about your writing process, Barbara. I somehow feel like I need to get everything worked out towards the beginning, and I’m not very successful at it – glad to know I’m not alone! Looking forward to TIH, and thanks, Amy, for cramming my Kindle full of too many books to read!

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  14. So great to have you talk about process and being willing to fail…I’ve been in the “loosey-goosey” weeds for a while on the current WIP, and I’m realizing that’s exactly the right place to be. I just need to stay focused, be patient and keep working!

    Must add to my TBR list: The Unfinished Garden sounds great, and now I am very intrigued by The In-Between Hour. 🙂 These characters sound like people I would like to meet!

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  15. Barbara I loved your Unfinished Garden for the story and the description, and especially because the characters are not perfect. They are human and have what some might consider defects but “defects” actually are the characteristics that make them more real, believable. Your book gave me courage to move forward with my own writing, to ignore the fact that some may think it’s not believable. But reality is stranger than fiction and I am pushing on to the next stage, ready to restart my blog and face the experience of having my book reviewed/edited by an unknown, faceless person. Scary! Thanks for the incentive!

    I look forward to reading The In Between Hour.

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  16. Congratulations on the Okra pick, Barbara! I have always been drawn to broken people too — because I am one of those broken people — and I find hope in stories about those people who find their way out. I also find myself drawn to mothers — both in real life and in fiction — who are fiercely proud of their children not for what they have accomplished so much as for the grace that they have demonstrated in overcoming. We all should be so lucky to have mothers who cheer us on for being exactly who we are. I am an aspiring writer who suffers from OCD, and I get stuck in my writing because I don’t feel like I have “overcome” it enough to write about a character who does — that I would be a fraud if I did. You mention your fascination with light and your “need to find hope in darkness”, and in some ways you are the light for me. I keep stumbling across an interview with you just when I am at my darkest. Not long ago it was an interview de-bunking commonly held beliefs about OCD. And now this one, with your joy and overwhelming love for your son that is so TRUE that it gives me hope. Thank you.

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  17. Congratulations and thanks for the advice on starting a new project. I’ve been back and forth for 5 months on mine and it just won’t stick. I’m taking your advice to look at it from a new perspective. As others have said, it’s nice to know I’m in good company with writers who have the same problems!

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