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New Voice in Contemporary Romance: Interview With Victoria Barbour

Posted by on 11 June, 2013

Please help me welcome debut romance novelist Victoria Barbour, a fellow Newfoundlander with a wonderfully fresh and charming voice. Against Her Rules is set in a tiny Newfoundland outport featuring a strong self-reliant heroine and a hawt Scottish artist. Yeah baby. Bring it on!

Against Her Rules, Victoria Barbour

Against Her Rules, Victoria Barbour

I have the honour of kicking off Victoria’s very first blog tour to promote her release. Check out her blog for more details on additional stops along the tour and giveaways!!

I’m gonna jump right in here with my questions for Victoria. Stay tuned for a my review of Against Her Rules following the interview.

KR: Have you always wanted to write a romance novel?

VB: I don’t know if it was so much wanting to write a romance as it was just naturally going in that direction. When I look back at all the novels I started and never finished—starting with one when I was in high-school—there was always a love story there. Even now when I go through story idea files on my computer, 95 per cent are romance. So I guess, yea. 🙂

KR: What prompted you to set your contemporary in outport Newfoundland? And why specifically Heart’s Ease?

VB: I’m passionate about Newfoundland. Insanely so. Everything I write is either set in Newfoundland or has a Newfoundland connection. There’s something about this place that I find so unique and romantic. Our scenery is spectacular, and the people make for super characters. We have such a rich history that it’s easy to find stories to tell. I love bringing people to Newfoundland and taking them around. I also try and show them the real Newfoundland, not just the tourism commercial side of things.

Although one reader told me that Against Her Rules reads like a tourism ad for Newfoundland. Was that you? Anyhow, with this book I just thought that a B&B setting would lend itself to a lot of possibilities for a romantic series. It’s a good way to build a world, and populate it with interesting, and hopefully, appealing characters. Heart’s Ease is a fictional town, of course. It came from my desire to show some of the creativity our ancestors had when it came to naming their communities. I always marvelled at the stretch of communities along Trinity Bay: Heart’s Content, Heart’s Delight and Heart’s Desire. But I didn’t want to set the novel in a real community, mainly because I wanted creative licence to create my own version of one of those communities.

KR: Yeah, that was me. Coming from a tiny outport myself, I never thought anyone would write a romance set there that I’d love, but you have. You’ve made this little fictional town very appealing indeed. Are your characters drawn from people you know? Or celebrities? Please tell me Cam is real (wags eyebrows).

VB: I honestly don’t know where my characters come from. I’m a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants author. I sit down and characters come to life. Asher, for instance, came out of nowhere. Although after they are created, and I’m editing, I can look at a character and think, “Hmm, there’s a little bit of Russell Brand in Asher.” But I don’t specifically try and fictionalize a person I know or a celebrity. I think there are a lot of character traits a person can have, and I try and make my characters have some real personality. As for Cam, it would be awesome if he were real. Let’s pretend he is, and there’s some lucky woman out there who gets to wake up to him every morning. 😉

KR: Asher is soooo Russell Brand!! And Cam is too yummy to be real. LOL Publishing has changed dramatically over the last ten years, expanding the options for emerging and seasoned writers. What made you choose to self-publish your debut novel?

VB: I originally wrote Against Her Rules as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. The reason I took the challenge was because Romance publishing mega-giant Avon Books was willing to read those submissions. The majority of the romance novel’s I’ve enjoyed the most were published by Avon, and I would love to have them publish one of my books. Anyway, they rejected it. I was at a cross-roads at that point, not sure if I should give up or keep going.

One night, I started reading about romance authors who were leaving their publishers behind and setting out on the path of self publishing. I was shocked. Like most writers, I believed self-publishing was the death-knell. Then I popped over to the Romance Writers of America site to renew my membership and saw that they were devoting a whole workshop stream at their National conference to self-publishing. I was intrigued and started reading everything I could.

I’m off on maternity leave this year, and thought that if the time was ever right for me to give it a shot, this was it. I have a background in marketing and communications, and felt that self-publishing was a good fit for me. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but I think I have the right skill set and motivation to give it a go.

It’s been super liberating, especially because I’m not sure how willing traditional publishers are to take a chance on a romance set in Newfoundland. Of course, I couldn’t have done this without making sure I was producing a quality book. It’s been edited over and over by an editor in Toronto, and has been through reams of beta-readers. Now that it’s out there, I’m still nervous that someone will find a mistake, but I think that’s a fear we all have.

Basically, it boils down to numbers. With ebooks, readers have access to more novels than ever before, but there’s only so much a traditional publisher can do. I can’t imagine how big their slush pile must be. Luckily, there are plenty of small presses out there ready to take a chance on emerging authors. That was another route I considered. But in the end, I decided to do it independently, partly because it fits well with my nature, but also because I felt I was on a time crunch and wanted to accomplish as much as I could, as quickly as I could. Fingers crossed I made the right decision!

KR: You’ve certainly done your homework! Will you self-publish all your novels?

VB: I have no idea, honestly. I’m going to ride this one out and see how it goes, and I think I’ll self-pub the second in the series. But who knows what the future will bring? I’m up for anything, if it feels right.

KR: What do you think are the pros and cons of both self and traditional publishing for a romance genre writer?

VB: I think the two biggest pros of the traditional publishing side of romance publishing are access to readers who are familiar with the type of novels they publish, and industry expertise.

But there are cons to traditional publishing as well. The waiting, the rejections, the royalties… those are some. For me, one of the biggest cons has always been having to alter your style or content to fit in with an expected mold. There are certain tropes that all romance novels must have, like the HEA and the black moment, but I’ve seen some publishers basically spell out requirements. It’s hard to be unique in that situation.

As for indie publishing, I think the cons, especially for a noob like me, are brand recognition. Why will a reader choose my book over one published by a recognized publisher? That’s why there’s a lot of work involved with self-publishing. You need to write, but you also need to be your own marketer, promoter, and PR agent. That’s the big downside, the workload. But the pros are awesome. Freedom to write in any style, to experiment, and to stay true to the story you want to tell.

KR: I have to ask, fish and brewis with or without scrunchions? Please don’t say you (gulp) add onions to your scrunchions.

VB: No scrunchions. I like homemade mustard pickles with my fish and brewis. Sometimes a bit of drawn butter with onions. But never scrunchions.

KR: Oh thank God. There’s something inherently wrong with onions and scrunchions together. 😀 Who are some of your favourite romance authors? Besides me. JK 😉

VB: I love Kate Robbins! Can’t wait for BTTH to come out in October. 🙂 But my must-reads are Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Suzanne Enoch. I’m a die-hard Regency fan. But I’ve also recently discovered Connie Brockway and I’m enjoying her as well. Julianne McLean is great, and I recently read my first contemporary by Donna Alward and it was fun. There are really too many to mention!

KR: You’re awesome. What are your favourite scenes to write? All the sex? Or the hearts and flowers? Or the black moment? Or the HEA?

VB: I find the sex scenes the hardest to write. I really love writing dialogue. I often worry if my writing is too dialogue heavy because that is my favourite. I’m not sure which scenes I prefer, but I love starting a novel. I love getting the beginning worked out, and meeting the characters, building the world. Does it sound weird that I enjoy meeting my characters? They often surprise me.

KR: Not weird at all! You spend so much time with them while telling their story, there has to be an introduction, just like in real life. What can we expect next?

VB: Next up is the second novel in the Heart’s Ease series. Cam’s sister Daphne gets this book. And after that, I think I’m going to finish it up with a book about Asher. I have so many books in my head. Now I just need to prioritize and get them done. But I think after this series I’ll get back to my regency romance.

Looking forward to it! Daphne and Asher are fabulous characters in Against Her Rules and I think will be a lot of fun to explore further. Thanks so much for stopping by today. Congratulations on your debut novel and good luck with the series!

Against Her Rules Review

Elsie owns an elite B&B in a remote outport on the island of Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast. Completely self reliant, she is proud of her success, even if it has come with a price. There’s not too many ‘fellers’ kicking about the small town of Heart’s Ease and Elsie has sworn to never fraternize with the guests…ever again.

Smoking hot Scottish artist Cam needs inspiration and the busy streets of London are just not cutting it. When his sister books the remote location overseas, he reluctantly agrees. Finding the place proves challenging, though not so much as keeping his hands off the deliciously rigid owner.

Against Her Rules is the witty contemporary debut novel from Victoria Barbour. The author has created rich characters that charm the reader on every page. Barbour’s setting is vivid and her storytelling is tight. I look forward to many more charming and fresh stories from this wonderful new author. I think she has a very bright future as a romance novelist.

Against Her Rules

Thriving business? Check.

Sexual exploits with a rockstar? Check.

Complete independence? Check.

Elsie Walsh had it all. Or so she thought. Until Scottish hunk Campbell Scott showed up on the doorstep of her bed and breakfast. He’s making it pretty hard for her to stand by her one rule: No sleeping with the guests. She’s denied some of the world’s hottest actors, musicians, and even royals… but how can she keep Cam out of her bed, when he’s invaded her head and her heart?

Campbell Scott went to the wilds of Newfoundland with one thing on his mind: sketch some birds, and then get back to his playboy lifestyle in London. But one look at his sexy hostess and there’s a whole lot more in the air than sea birds. Rejection isn’t part of his vocabulary, and Cam sets out to not only convince Elsie that he belongs in her bed, but by her side at the Heart’s Ease Inn.

Victoria Barbour

Victoria BarbourVictoria 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!!

5 Responses to New Voice in Contemporary Romance: Interview With Victoria Barbour

  1. Bev Pettersen

    Congrats on your debut book. It sounds wonderful and it’s great you can use the Newfoundland setting. I love reading about places I’ve been. Have fun with the marketing!

    • Victoria Barbour

      Thanks Bev. Luckly I enjoy marketing, although marketing a book is a totally different beast than I’m used to. As for the Newfoundland setting, at this point my plan is to always incorporate an element of Newfoundland in my fiction.

  2. melaniemmartin

    I loved this book! Such a pleasant read that kept me turning the pages late into the night. Made me laugh in all the right places; great quirky NL characters mixed in with some hawt CFA’s… 🙂 Also enjoyed that it was set in NL, which so much historical fiction is, but, it’s often overlooked as a romance setting. Great job – looking forward to reading the next in the series! And must weigh in on the scrunchions…of course you put onions in them! Congratulations on your self-publishing debut!

    • Victoria Barbour

      Thanks Melanie! I’m hard at work on the next in the series so hopefully I won’t keep people waiting too long! Now, to begin mediating between you and Kate re: onions. 😉

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