Barbara Winkes is an author of many talents. I can just about cope with writing two genres (historical fiction and Sapphic fiction) but Barbara does it all! Suspense, thrillers, contemporary romance, speculative fiction, crime AND holiday romances… have I missed any?? I am quite frankly in awe of Barbara – to be able to keep track of so many characters must be a task in itself, let alone writing about and publishing them!
I was absolutely delighted when Barbara agreed to be interviewed for Sapphic Fiction February! Especially since she has a new romantic suspense novel, Thunder, coming out on February 16th, just ten days away! It can be pre-ordered now. I honestly don’t know how she does it – well, I didn’t until I read her interview, that is…
Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Barbara, and I write sapphic crime drama and Christmas romance with mostly lesbian MCs. When I moved to Quebec eleven years ago (in 2023 it will be 12), I started out with a small town romance with a twist, but I quickly went back to my first love, thrillers and suspense. But Quebec is extremely Christmassy and romantic during the season, and once my wife and I made it a habit to binge Christmas movies from the moment the tree goes up, I became interested in that genre too. It's all about the detectives and other investigators for most of the time, but I take a few weeks of the year to write holiday fiction. And I believe there are similarities - either my MCs have to solve a case/mystery, or they have to save the town/traditions/etc, both within a certain timeframe!
I worked as a psychologist for a few year when I was still in Germany, and a teacher once told me that would be a great background for a writer. At the time, I couldn't believe that this could ever become my day job, but many wears later, here we are! I just celebrated my 10th publishing anniversary, and I'm grateful to all the readers who picked up a book of mine and made this happen - and my wife who believed in (and still does) every step of the way.
What made you want to sit down and write your first book?
I've always been writing, but my first published book...I had this character who was firmly in her comfort zone - or so it seemed - and also a bit judgy, so I wanted to explore what would have to happen to get her out of that mindset. Also, bad things happening in a small town...Since I started writing Christmas romance along with (romantic) suspense and thrillers, I've created a few friendly and cozy ones, but this small town (Autumn Leaves) wasn't.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I usually start with a snippet, a character, a scene, an emotion...and go from there. I started plotting Indiscretions after watching an episode of House Hunters, where a couple found a creepy trap door in the house they were visiting. Often, it starts with the showdown/conflict, and then I work out how they get there, and resolve it. There's usually a HEA or at least, HFN, but the road to it can be rocky. I outline at least 20 scenes before I start, and go into more detail afterwards. Over the years, I've become more of a plotter.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?
Jordan Carpenter, no doubt about it. Not everything she's done and lived through, obviously, but we do have some things in common. Having more of a cynical outlook, she's nevertheless drawn to Ellie who sees the bright side of life.
Has your own writing ever made you cry?
Yes, a few times. My Christmas romances are low to no angst, but most of my writing is not, which comes with the genre. It can get emotional, and to be honest, I enjoy that, also as a reader. Stories are supposed to move us, and I hope that mine do.
Does anyone you know in real life read your books?
Yes, a few people, mostly friends and family. My wife reads them before anyone else.
Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?
Right now, one of our favorite shows is NCIS Hawaii, and the #kacy ship. I could easily imagine the actresses in any of my Christmas stories. For the thrillers, it varies, but I'm open to suggestions! To be honest, if someone offered to make a movie, I could be flexible with different aspects (except for the wlw part).
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
Read, watch TV, take walks in nature and the city (we have both close by), and, mostly since 2020, some baking.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?
Take a good look at the *why*, and what your long-term plans are. That can differ greatly. When I started out, there was some trial and error, and I wish I had thought of a few things earlier (like a newsletter). So, take some time to look at the basics. Enjoy what you do, and celebrate your successes!
How about in general life?
There's probably less reason to stress than you think.
What is a motto you live by?
If I can stress about it, I probably will. No, really. I'm working on that, especially in the past couple of years where life has become so unpredictable. It might sound like a cliché, but that makes it even more important to live in the moment.
How can people connect with you?
I'm on Instagram, Twitter (still), Facebook, but if you want to be sure not to miss any updates, it's best to go with the newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dGvo_1 You even get a free story when you sign up! You can also send me a message via my website.
Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
A sort of croque madame: an open-faced ham, cheese & pineapple, broiled, simply because I love the combination!
If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!