Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Barbara Conrey about the experiences that inspired her to write her new book, Nowhere Near Goodbye, and her creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a mother and a grandmother. I have a passion for the Beagle Freedom Project which rescues beagles from product testing laboratories. I had a rescued beagle, Miss Molly, who recently crossed the rainbow bridge, and I miss her dearly. I like to incorporate subplots of beagles in my books to help my readers learn about the Beagle Freedom Project.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I imagined writing as a career where I would make loads of money and be a household name when I was a young child. After I was no longer a child, I learned I would need to set my sights on a more practical career (with realistic goals).
When did you take a step to start writing?
Try as I might to set practical goals, I couldn’t give up on my dream of writing, so I wrote essays, OP/ED pieces, and short stories starting in my late teens.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
The first thought of NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE came to me in 2001 but I didn’t start writing it until 2016; it was released in August 2020
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
My second book hasn’t been released yet (but it is under contract with the anticipated release date set for late 2022), but it took about eighteen months from idea to submission to my agent and publisher.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Nowhere Near Goodbye?
Anger made me write NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE. A dear friend lost a loved one to a rare brain tumor (glioblastoma), and I was so angered by my friend’s loss and suffering that I wanted to write a book where the tumor didn’t win. Because the reality is, with glioblastoma, the tumor almost always wins.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Nowhere Near Goodbye?
I had never written a book. I had never studied creative writing. I had no idea how to write dialogue or how to pace the novel or build tension. Nothing. So, really, I was my biggest challenge. I thought I could just sit down and write, just as I did essays and short stories. I was so wrong!
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Emma Blake, the pediatric oncologist who discovered a (fictional) cure for glioblastoma, was created purely from my imagination but also came from parts of my own personality: my ability to focus and compartmentalize, also, unfortunately, my ability to use up all my second chances.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Again, Ned, Chief of Oncology at Lancaster General Hospital and Emma’s boss, was a figment of my imagination with maybe some negative personality traits from one or two men who I’ve met through the course of my life.
What is the inciting incident of Nowhere Near Goodbye?
The inciting incident is when Emma and her husband Tim discover they are pregnant, and she is thrilled, but only moments later worries that a baby will force her to lose focus on her research (to discover a cure for glioblastoma).
What is the main conflict of Nowhere Near Goodbye?
The main conflict is Emma’s desire to be a mother and fulfill her promise to her childhood friend Kate and find a cure for glioblastoma.
Did you plot Nowhere Near Goodbye in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I wish I had plotted NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE. Instead, I flew by the seat of my pants, and it was, occasionally, very messy.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Nowhere Near Goodbye need?
The editorial staff in general at Red Adept Publishing is excellent, and my editors, both content and line editing were fabulous.
When I first received my editorial letter, I felt that my book needed a lot of work, but I later discovered my edits were normal (and I felt much better).
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Do not give up!
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’d love to! My second book, which is under contract and titled MY SECRET TO KEEP, is a prequel to NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE and is Miss Maggie’s story, a secondary character in NNG.
Miss Maggie is an older character who is the only person Emma can be completely honest with. MY SECRET TO KEEP tells Miss Maggie’s story from her teen years until she meets Emma and becomes her confidant.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes, I’m very proud. I am, without a doubt, a late bloomer as an author.
NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE was published in August 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, when book promoting came to a standstill yet still managed to hit the USA Today Bestseller list in January, won the 2021 NYC Big Book Award for Contemporary Fiction in October, and was a Finalist in the 2021 American Book Fest Women’s Fiction Category in November.
So, yes, the book has continued to do well and was worth every tear I shed.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Web Site: http://www.barbaraconreyauthor.com
BookBub: Barbara Conrey Books – BookBub
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