Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA, and adult books full of adventure and surprising twists in plot and genre. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. With nine books published since 2011, she indulges her Muse in creative fiction as well as freelance writing.
Mandy regularly blogs and is a writing community advocate. As Secretary of her local writers’ group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and past secretary of the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as past-president of the Arts & Culture Council, she lives her creative life to the fullest. She hosts the WFSC monthly writing meetings and also creates writing prompts for their website. She has presented on various writing topics at conferences and seminars. Originally from England, Mandy now resides in Alberta, Canada. You can find Mandy across social media and her books through all online purchasing sites and her publisher, Dream Write Publishing.
Could You Tell Us About Yourself?
I am originally from England, but now reside in Canada. I caught the writing bug, so to speak, when I came across a writing group notice in the local library by pure chance. The group welcomed and encouraged me and continue to do so. Although, now I have been the Foundations’ secretary for nearly fourteen years. It has allowed me to learn my skill but also encourage new writers as well. My writing companion is a little rescue dog called Sammie, who gets me away from my desk for much needed fresh air and exercise.
What made you write your book (s) ?
My first book was a children’s picture book and it was suggested by one of my writing group friends to publish it. The story is about a little monster going out to scare on Halloween. I was told it would make a super kids picture book, and that proved to be right. After that it was the total immersion into my imaginary worlds that propelled me to write more complex stories. Each one generated in a different way, either dream sequences, writing prompt, life experience or English folklore.
What is the first book you remember reading?
Goodness, now that is a question! I can remember Wind in the Willows, Hiawatha, Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland specifically.
What’s your favourite book?
First and foremost, all of Stephen King novels and one I reread regularly, Ferney by James Long, which is a reincarnation story. A subject I am fascinated by and actually used as the theme of my romance novel, The Twesome Loop.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I have to say Stephen King because of his skill at immersing you into story with well-developed characters, locations and plot. The ease with which he captures you as you read and pulls you into the character’s world is incredible.
How many hours a day do you write?
It varies a LOT! Mainly because of full time work, duties for the Writers Foundation and family commitments. I am lucky to have a writer friend who travels with me on a regular basis for road trips, which we utilize for writing time as well as exploring and gaining inspiration. One trip we came across a huge plant standing at least 6 foot high. This morphed into an alien life form in my YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria. So, inspiration is everywhere!
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Without a doubt full time work! It would allow me the opportunity to attend more writing related courses, conferences and more time to practice my skill.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
After the joy and carefree free-flow writing comes the editing and revision – finding inconsistencies and rewriting.
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?
Absolutely, Stephen King. (Are you getting an idea he is my literary hero?) To be able to have a conversation about story development with him would be extraordinary.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
Once I am immersed in my story the outside world disappears, although I’m rather a Gemini in my wants to be honest. I either need absolute silence, ocean waves or an eclectic range of music from pop to classical and everything in between. At home it is my study set up with a desk, with crystals, ornaments and a cup of tea (or wine depending on the time of day). When on road trips in hotels, I have a breakfast tray to sit my laptop on and silence, with occasional conversation with my friend and dog walks.
What’s your favourite writing snack or drink?
A cup of tea and some sort of snack, whether chips or cookies depending on time of day. Although saying that the tea can get cold and the snack forgotten when I’m into the story and letting my characters take me on a journey.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
To go out for a walk with my little rescue dog, or if the weather is awful a nice glass of wine and possibly watch a movie. This clears my head space.
Do you listen to music while you wrote your book (s)?
It can be classical or popular music, or anything inbetween, my tastes are eclectic.
Where do you get your idea (s) for your book (s)?
Some come from writing prompts, others strange news stories, overheard conversations, dreams, writing prompts, life experience or just an idea pops into my head.
What is / was your writing process like?
I let the story flow and allow the characters take me on their journey, no matter how many divergent paths they go on. It is fun to see how my imagination creates the story having no restrictions.
Do you try more to be original or rather give readers what they want?
I don’t write to genre formats, but turn things upside down and back to front, I like to surprise my readers with unexpected twists. If I can capture a reader and they are surprised by an event then my job is done.
How did publishing your (first) book feel?
It was such a wonderful feeling, although nerve racking, to have my story in book form, with illustrations showing the little monster I conjured up in my mind. Having a physical representation of my stories is always a great thrill.
What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This really depends on the topic of the book. Some have been quite extensive and over several months, other’s not as much as I have relied on my own knowledge. For instance, my fantasy series is set in medieval England, so I had personal knowledge to draw upon, while a draft manuscript morphing three different news stories together required more intense research.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
As I free write, my initial plot is fairly liquid, so to speak, I have an idea of place, people, and struggles to start with. Then my characters solidify within my mind and they begin to dictate how the story develops. This is my favourite part of the process – the unexpected paths we go down.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book (s)?
First and foremost, the synopsis and blurb, both are tasks I’m not keen on. I have a fantastic editor so that particular task is not as grueling.
Which part of the books were the most fun to write?
The initial chapters are the most fun, where anything can happen. How the story develops is the magical part of writing. It is a journey I love being on.
How did you come up with the title for your book (s)?
I like to play with words and names and pick titles that will attract attention from whichever age group they are aimed at.
Rumble’s First Scare – I didn’t want the ‘monster’ to be scary and relatable. He is cute.
Ockleberries to the Rescue – a chapter book where magical sprites look after forest animals. It is the altered name of someone I saw on the internet.
Clickety Click – it’s actually the sound the protagonist hears heralding a life change
Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria – totally made up planet name!
The Twesome Loop – once again a made-up word – Twesome is the mechanism the soulmates use to connect over time.
Life in Slake Patch – I made up a place called Slake Patch in this speculative fiction story.
The Commodore’s Gift – the hint is in the gift for this steampunk adventure and the Commodore is the antagonist.
The Rython Kingdom – again I made up the word Rython for this fantasy novella. And the sequel became Rython Legacy.
Would you and your main character get along?
Most of the female protagonist’s and I would get on very well – there is a piece of me in every one of them! Independent, strong willed and determined.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
How much I enjoyed creating them and following their stories. How I looked out for them and maintained their integrity.
Which of the characters in your book (s) do you relate to the most and why?
Again, the female characters are close to my heart in one way or another. I love Owena in The Commodore’s Gift as she kicks ass! I also love Evan in Life in Slake Patch as he managed to change a way of life for the better.
What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?
As with most drafts they go through extensive revisions, some more than others. For instance, Life in Slake Patch was my first foray into National Novel Writing month back in 2009. I wrote as a complete novice with frantic focus and, of course, the initial draft was less than inspiring. I revised it over and over, year after year putting it on the backburner as I wrote and published other books. Until I was finally happy with the edits and revisions and published it in 2018. A total of nine years. I have other drafts that have sat in draft form but not quite as long as Slake. A western romance, which has languished since 2013, may come to the surface late 2023, early 2024. Fingers crossed.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Children’s & YA books – whomever wants to delve into magic, adventure and make believe with solid foundations of friendship, and love.
Adult books – someone who enjoys stories with strong characters and includes surprise twists and unexpected turns in the genre.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Getting rid of a character, who was a) the best friend and b) the brother of the protagonists. I knew they had to go, but it was the pain of their loss to my protagonists that made it hard.
How long did it take for you to write a book?
All of them have varying periods of time when it comes to the process from initial idea to finished first draft. On average 6 – 12 months for the longer novels. Children’s and YA books not quite so long, if the process goes smoothly – and we all know that isn’t guaranteed.
What do you hope your readers take away from your book (s)?
That is was an enjoyable ride of a narrative with characters they will remember for a long time afterwards. To be transported into a world that takes them to the magical place of story.
How did you feel when you first published your book (s)?
Super excited and nervous. I understood that it was up to me to promote my work and get it to as many people as possible.
Where can people who are interested in your books, buy your books?
They are all available on every online purchase site, from my publisher, Dream Write Publishing and if they are local, or at a book event I am attending from me directly.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
I am working on two projects currently – a prequel to my fantasy series – The Rython Kingdom & Rython Legacy. It is entitled Malgraf’s Dawning and centers around the ‘creation and growth’ of the vengeful witch.
I have also written and revised the first two books for a crime trilogy and have three-quarters of the third book written. This will be my project after the prequel is published this fall.
After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers?
Practice writing multiple genres, use writing prompts, take courses, utilize your local Writer in Residence (library) and find a writing group. Believe in yourself and your voice, it takes time to develop. Don’t give up. Find people who encourage and support you with constructive critique.
What are common traps for aspiring writers, and have you faced any of them?
That they stop after the first rejection, or unconstructive critique. These should be seen as learning tools, not a reflection on their skill. I always kept an open mind, as not everyone will enjoy my stories – you can’t please all the people, all the time. It is your personality, life experience and writing ability that creates a unique story, stick with it.
Do you read your book reviews?
Absolutely! They are a joy to read and I feel privilege when people take the time to write one.
Is there something more you want to tell us which I forgot to ask about?
I am available across many social media sites and through my website. I am always happy to connect with readers and writers alike. You can find out about my events, work in progress and much more.
Mandy Barnett Media Links