Today on Novels Alive, please join us in welcoming thriller and romance author D.M. Barr.
What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?
I believed they are intertwined. The character’s past experiences and how they interpret (or misinterpret) the world around them is what propels the plot forward. Often, they are searching for validation.
If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The hero/heroine, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?
There’s a part of me in the protagonist in every book I’ve written so far. I’m not sure you can call them heroes; they are just trying to survive what life throws at them. Expired Listings was about a trade writer turned Realtor, that’s my background. In Slashing Mona Lisa, Camarin Torres and her sister have weight issues; I’ve yoyoed all my life. And in Saving Grace, the main character is a middle-aged paranoid housewife with a rich father living down in Florida. There’s some of that in me as well.
Do people you know end up as characters in your book? Be honest…
Their names end up in there but not the people themselves. Although in Expired Listings, there were a few unethical incidents I heard about that were perpetrated by other Realtors but they weren’t the major incidents in the book.
Do you surprise yourself at your ability to write the vilest villains with such believability? Which book is your most vile villain featured?
It doesn’t surprise me; I have an active imagination. I would have to say that since Expired Listings featured a serial killer, that book would win for vilest villain but as all my readers have told me, they never guessed that person was the killer until the very end.
Which of your characters did you or will you enjoy killing off the most?
Really liked killing off the Realtors in Expired Listings—the townspeople saw it as a public service; the other agents saw it as less competition. In both Expired Listings and Slashing Mona Lisa, the deaths are highly ironic and maybe a little over the top. In Saving Grace, not so much.
What do you do to prepare your mind to write? To get into the mind of your characters?
I force myself to write 1,000 words a day and tell myself that however bad that first draft will be, I have to write it in order to have something to revise. My characters run the show; they often end up doing things I didn’t anticipate beforehand.
Can you judge a book by its cover? How much input do you have on the look/feel of your cover?
In Expired Listings and Saving Grace, I chose the photo because I felt it conveyed a critical vibe. In Saving Grace, I wanted to capture someone desperate, claustrophobic, coming out of a fog. For Slashing Mona Lisa, there are two covers because my publisher only purchased the digital rights. I did have a say in the digital cover, finding the right people to portray. I commissioned the print cover from Extended Imagery, and we went through a few drafts until it turned into exactly what I wanted.
How much research went into your last book?
In Saving Grace, I relied on experts to give me tidbits of information, like a lawyer friend to tell me about inheritance law, and a former client who works in mental health to tell me if there are libraries in mental hospitals. I fact-check everything as I write, Google is your friend.
What’s one of the most important things you’d like your readers to know about you? What defines you most as an author?
I throw myself into my work 100%. It’s incredibly important to me. But I also love to make other people laugh. I’m a humorist disguised as a thriller writer. If you get the pun or the joke, that’s when I’m happiest.
Tell us one thing about you that may surprise your readers.
My family owned a large, Manhattan travel agency and I was fortunate enough to spend my younger years traveling around the world. It might be why so many multi-cultural characters appear in my books.
Tell us a little bit about the project you are working on now.
I’m finally writing a romance which is good because I’m the president of my local RWA chapter so it would be good to actually write romance. It involves overcoming past regrets; I don’t want to say more than that at the moment but if things go well, it will be the first of a four-book series.
Tell us something about your latest release.
Saving Grace: A Psychological Thriller is about a middle-aged suburban housewife and mother who is also the only child of an ailing billionaire. She’s been treated for paranoia since age six. When she secretly goes off her meds, she begins to suspect her husband will murder her for her inheritance once her father dies and she must find a subtle way to save herself so she doesn’t ruin her son’s lives if she is in fact wrong. At its core, I see it as a feminist novel, a cry for help from women who have become “invisible” to the world.
Thank you so much for joining us today and best of luck on your romance and Saving Grace sounds like a great thriller!
“A psychological thriller with more than enough twists, turns, and misdirection to keep even the most jaded reader turning pages all night long.” –Lori Robbins, author of the Silver Falchion Award-winning novel, Lesson Plan for Murder
Grace Pierrepoint Rendell, the only child of an ailing billionaire, has been treated for paranoia since childhood. When she secretly quits her meds, she begins to suspect that once her father passes, her husband will murder her for her inheritance. Realizing that no one will believe the ravings of a supposed psychotic, she devises a creative way to save herself—she will write herself out of danger, authoring a novel with the heroine in exactly the same circumstances, thus subtly exposing her husband’s scheme to the world. She hires acclaimed author Lynn Andrews to help edit her literary insurance policy, but when Lynn is murdered, Grace is discovered standing over the bloody remains. The clock is ticking: can she write and publish her manuscript before she is strapped into a straitjacket, accused of homicide, or lowered six feet under?
With a cast of secondary characters whose challenges mirror Grace’s own, Saving Grace is, at its core, an allegory for the struggle of the marginalized to be heard and live life on their own terms.
By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs and competitive trivia player (Go Penguins!) happily living just north of NYC. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.
My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations, financial services and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning travel magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.
The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed one of my problem clients. And I haven’t killed off the owner of the nearest weight loss clinic either.
But that’s not to say I haven’t wanted to…
Blog Tour Organized By: