What does Barbra Gaskell Denvil’s super alter-ego wear? Read on and find out…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
I’m just a dreamer with a fierce passion for art, literature, nature and travel. But my dreams are so vivid, I admit I do sometimes wonder which world I live in. The superhero and the mild mannered introvert get very mixed up sometimes – so I’m probably just the left over orange peel from the cocktail shaker.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
I’m a loner! Cats of course – but I can’t say they help a lot since they try to sit on my computer keyboard or demand cuddles when I’m in the middle of writing some awful battle scene.
Where do you get your superpowers from?
My imagination is linked to my dream world – and it is extremely vivid. I admit sometimes I wonder if someone else inside my head is making up all this inspiration – it seems almost divorced from the other person who sits all day every day at the computer slogging away in silence. So perhaps that double-identity superhero business is actually true. Or maybe I’m just plain balmy.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
Oh dear – usually an awful mess. My house is very small so my desk and everything else is squashed within the one living room. That means about 3,000 books and a huge desk absolutely covered in papers, books, maps, pens and computer paraphernalia. I have a bad habit of writing any sudden ideas that come into my head at any time, on the back of old envelopes – and these get scattered all over the place. Cleaning up is a constant problem, and if I tidy my desk then that is a disaster and I cannot find anything at all – but I do love my mucky little nest. It’s colourful, comfy and cosy. At the moment it is summer where I live, and the sun streams in through the window beyond my desk. Outside I see lots of bright blue sky, hundreds of trees, swathes of flowers, parrots and other birds, and visiting wild animals from the surrounding forests. So it’s my little haven.
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?
Mental training mostly – and that means reading, reading and more reading. The trouble is, my eyesight is waning – so the invention of the Kindle has been a real boon. Writing is both the beginning and the end result – and making sure the powers are only used for good is – of course – the ultimate aim. That means rewriting endlessly – until I am positive I just cannot personally improve on the existing manuscript.
Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
My inner superhero is slim – as I used to be until about 10 years ago – and therefore my costume would fit that slim young woman I wish I still was. Long, flowing skirts I suppose, or a silken William Morris caftan. The actual truth is a lot less interesting as I am skinny no longer – and tend to slouch around in old trousers and a jumper.
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
My kryptonite is my eyesight – a horrible nuisance which makes reading and research a struggle. I use old maps, so need a constant magnifying glass. My other challenge is too much inspiration – one idea for a book constantly chasing out another. I’d love to achieve more, yet I have to keep reminding myself to take a break.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
Perhaps the most important lesson of all has been that rejection does not mean your work is sub-standard. There is no such thing as failure – there is only your own decision as to how you see yourself. The judgments of others can be helpful – but everyone has their own individual taste. Rejections should make us stronger – not weaker.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
Getting to know each and every one of my characters. As each (especially my heroes and heroines) really begin to take up their own personalities and come alive, I am always enthralled and bemused as how they make their own decisions and choose their own paths ahead. I end up with such a crowd of wonderful friends in my head. They are all so different, and once they spring into full colour, they never entirely leave.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I would start earlier and more seriously. I was making a career in publishing and writing when I was quite young, but put it on hold for (a horribly difficult) marriage and (three absolutely wonderful) children. Then I moved on to some extremely interesting travel and a long term wildly happy romance. Not that I regret a thing – but I wish I had squeezed in some writing too. Now success is slowly building up, but already I am wondering how long I can keep up the routines. I shall probably be about 92 and still trying to finish writing all those ideas in my head.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
To never give up – forget the rules – and totally ignore what is disguised as failure.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
My next book comes out in June – historical fiction – published by Simon & Schuster. This book, THE KING’S SHADOW is based around the death of Edward IV and the eventual election of Richard III as king. This was one of the most explosive times in English history and I have interwoven fact with possibility to create a story of mystery, intrigue and romance, I adore that period of history but I do not concentrate purely on the rich, titled, or politically prominent. I prefer to base my plots around the ordinary people, and characterization is a priority with me. I also love to bring alive the details of the old cities and way of life. So with this book you get a big roistering adventure
with interweaving plots encompassing everything to pull you right into the story alongside the characters.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
Oh my, yes indeed. I have just finished the first book in a quartet, THE CORNUCOPIA QUARTET, all set through the latter half of the 15th century, and with a huge cast of very diverse characters. I have loved writing this – and once Christmas is over, I look forward to starting Book 2. I also have a couple of ideas for fantasies and several more Hist. Fic. I just need a system of writing all through the night while still having my wonderfully intense dreams.
You can find Barbra at: