Welcome bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo who is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than fifty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. A member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, Oklahoma Paralegal Association, and a former member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, she is currently a proud military wife and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River.
A J: If time and money did not enter in the equation, what would be your dream?
Kathleen: Unlimited travel! I love experiencing new places and visiting old favorites, so my dream would be to be able to pick up at go anywhere I wished with no prior notice and no worries about how we will pay for all of the expense involved.
A J: What would you be doing with your free time if you were not writing?
Kathleen: I would be doing what got me into the writing world: reading! My mother instilled the habit of reading into her children at a young age, and I’ve continued that habit through adulthood.
A J: What movie most impacted you as a kid? Why?
Kathleen: I’m going to guess I will be the ONLY person you’ve interviewed to say this, but when I was in the fifth grade, we were required to watch a fire safety movie. I don’t know the name of this film, or even if it had one, but that little thirty-minute film instilled a terror of fire that lasted well into adulthood. Isn’t that odd? I mean, it was supposed to keep children safe, and yet when that dog woke up that sleeping boy and he touched the door to find it was warm?? As you can see, it made an impact!
The second most impactful film of my childhood was Mary Poppins. Am I telling my age here? I saw it in the balcony of a grand old theater that had purple velvet curtains and cushy chairs. Not long after, we acquired the soundtrack. I can still sing every song by heart although I have long given up trying to float by laughing hard enough.
A J: What are you currently reading? What is your favorite genre for personal reading pleasure?
Kathleen: Actually I just finished a book last night: Splendour Falls by one of my favorite authors, Susanna Kearsley. I’m a huge fan of her dual time line stories, and this book was somewhat of a departure from that type of novel. It was a great read, though. Now I’m looking for another to begin.
A J: What is the last book you read that moved you? What caused that powerful emotional experience?
Kathleen: The last book that moved me was The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. He really nailed me on multiple points. Suffice it to say my Kindle copy was profusely highlighted! He also offered so many excellent suggestion for focused prayer. I highly recommend the book and its subsequent titles.
A J: If you had 48 hours to hang out with any TWO people (besides Jesus), alive or dead in the history of the world who would you hang out with and what would you do?
Kathleen: Just two? Oh my…that is hard. My first choice would be my dad. He passed away suddenly when I was in my early 30s. Now I am just a year shy of the age he was when he left us. As to what we would do? Oh, that’s easy! We would laugh and talk, would go have a burger (the search for the perfect burger was our “thing”), and would just sit and be quiet together on the porch, ideally with heat lightning dancing across the summer sky as it did so often when I was a child in coastal Texas.
As to the second person? Wow. I don’t know. Any of my grandparents. Or all of them…but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?
A J: Who’s your one biggest fan/supporter of your writing?
Kathleen: My husband Robert is my biggest fan, my supporter, my rock, and so much more. He listens as I work through plot and character issues, offers advice when asked, and reads through my completed manuscripts checking for errors. He keeps my book inventory under control, packs my things for book signings, keeps the calendar straight, and does a hundred other things so that I can write. He spent 28 years in the US Air Force, but he would probably tell you that being the husband of a writer (we’re about to celebrate 5 years or marriage) is his biggest challenge yet.
A J: If you could be any character in any literary book who would you be and why?
Kathleen: When I was a child, I dreamed of being Pollyanna or Mary Poppins. I read To Kill a Mockingbird and the Little House on the Prairie series when I was ten or eleven and immediately wanted to be Scout or Laura Ingalls Wilder. Each subsequent book has allowed me to walk in the shoes of characters I’ve wanted to become. Isn’t it great that we readers can live so many lives?
A J: Did anyone inspire you to write?
Kathleen: The death of my father taught me that life is amazingly short and that Jesus can call us home at ANY time. This is going to sound silly, but I decided then that I would do two things: write and own a convertible. As the mother of four children ages 3 to 13, both sounded so frivolous and daring then. I finally started putting words on a page—or rather on the screen of a word processor—three years later when my youngest started preschool. Just three months shy of the fifteenth anniversary of my dad’s death, I bought a red Mini Cooper convertible and paid down half of it with money I earned from writing books. As I drove down to pick up that car, I called my sister and asked her to talk me out of it. Her response? Dad would have loved it. Go! So I did.
A J: What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
Kathleen: One of my favorite themes to write about is getting ahead of God. There are ample examples of this in the Bible, and in my own life. What is it about the human condition that makes us unable to wait until God moves but rather causes us to try and make things happen on our own timetable?
A J: Did you plot the story as the lead character emerged, or did the lead character exist in your mind before the plot materialized?
Kathleen: I knew Cora Duncan from The Bogus Bride of Creed Creek before the book began. Here’s what I knew:
She was a woman who struggled to honor her father because frankly he wasn’t much worthy of honor. He’d lost their home in a card game—or at least that’s his story—and he hadn’t been much of a father to her or a husband to his late wife. She left with the first man who offered to marry her only to find out the man was a bigamist whose last wife caught up to him the morning after Cora’s wedding. With that marriage declared invalid by a judge, all she can do is go back home and hope her father will take her back in. Unfortunately, she arrives the day after her father and his sworn enemy decided to duel to the death in the back pasture. Her father managed to bury Iz McBride but is in dire danger of joining him. He extracts a single promise from Cora: go get our land. To cement this promise, he hands her an envelope that she believes contains the deed to the property. When she gets to Creek Creek and hands the envelope over to the authorities, she’s stunned to find out her father has forged a marriage license. Now the whole town thinks she’s married to Iz McBride, a good thing as it turns out, since she’s discovered she’s with child. Only when she finds out that Iz had a son, and it is him that the town believes she’s wed—do things get really interesting.
A J: You have close to sixty books published. How does it feel?
Kathleen: I am closing in on sixty published books, and I have to admit every time the box of new books arrives, I’m just as thrilled as the first time. Okay, so maybe I don’t fall down on my knees and weep in the foyer of my home—yes, I really did that with book 1—but my heart is so glad to see that the Lord has allowed me to publish yet another book! Besides, I was a lot younger then—fifteen years younger—and could get up off the floor a whole lot easier!
A J: Tell us the story between finishing your first novel and signing a contract.
Kathleen: Author DiAnn Mills called to ask if I knew anything about Texas Rangers and would be willing to write a synopsis for a novella that included one. Of course, I said yes and then quickly put together a tale taken straight from my own family genealogy—with the ending altered to include a happy heroine and a handsome Texas Ranger.
At that point I had been writing for almost four years and had completed eight novels. I knew all about waiting, so I tucked away that synopsis and figured it would be awhile before anything happened. Two weeks later, I got an email from Barbour Publishing saying they wanted to include my novella in a book called Yellow Roses. After writing all those book, I sold one what hadn’t been written yet! Two months after publication, Yellow Roses became a CBA bestseller!
A J: How do you handle the rejections that are part of the writing life?
Kathleen: Rejections are just plain hard! There’s no good way to sugar coat that. They are hard. Someone told me years ago to think of rejections as redirection. Wow! That helped so much. Now when I get a rejection—and yes, published authors DO get them—I have to think that God must have something else in mind. Maybe it’s another author who needs this contract or another publisher who will be giving life to my words. Whatever the reason, I must believe there are greater plans than mine.
A J: What gave you the inspiration for this story?
Kathleen: I love writing stories about my home state of Texas. As a tenth-generation Texan, I’ll take any opportunity to set a story there. When Barbour editor Becky Germany announced she was looking for stories about homesteading couples in the 19th century, I knew I would have to set my tale there. After doing research on homesteading in Texas, I learned that the land just south of the Red River was ripe with stories of families who came with nothing and built up farms and ranches that prospered. Land titles were easily gained and even easier lost, and often there were more than one claiming ownership of property. Sometimes those issues were easily handled but other times ownership was more difficult to determine. What if my hero’s father did cheat the heroine’s father out of his land? With both parties now dead, their children are left to untangle the truth. That was the genesis of the tale.
A J: What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about him/her?
Kathleen: Israel McBride, Jr. is just trying to do the right thing. He grew up with a less than stellar role model in his father and watched his mother be mistreated by Iz Sr until she finally died an early death. He is very conscious of not becoming the man his father was, and he has worked hard to make something of the hardscrabble life and miserable farm his father acquired for the family. Finding someone else claiming ownership to that farm and worse, claiming to be his wife, puts him in a terrible bind. His father once sent away a pregnant woman—his mother—so to do that to this woman is unthinkable for Iz. But what to do when the whole town believes she’s his wife and the woman believes the farm was stolen from her family?
A J: How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Kathleen: What a great question. I think it’s impossible not to write something of myself into every book. Sometimes these things are conscious efforts to impart something I have learned or maybe just share something I have seen or experienced. Other times it’s done subconsciously and I’m reminded later that this fictional scene or person is reflective of something that actually happened.
Then there’s the third option: writing the future. No, I’m not suggesting I have some unique ability to predict future events because I certainly do not, but I will say that I wrote several dozen books while I was single where the hero had character traits that he shares with my husband. I should mention that I didn’t meet my husband again—we knew one another in high school but didn’t reconnect until 2010—until well after these books were written. My husband has pointed out numerous instances of things that are similar to him, even my penchant for my heroes to wear size 13 boots! He’s reading books I’ve long ago written and there he is in them. I think that’s pretty cool.
A J: Why will readers enjoy your novel?
Kathleen: I hope readers will enjoy The Bogus Bride of Creed Creek from Homestead Brides Collection because the characters kept me guessing an laughing all the way to the end of the story. I just love pitting two hard-headed people against one another, especially when the topic in dispute is one they are both passionate about. My heroine has a backbone of steel and a soft heart, so she just knows she’s doing what she’s supposed to do in claiming the land that was stolen from her father. She just doesn’t expect that the thief has a son, nor does she expect to fall in love with that son.
A J: Tell me about the story of The Bogus Bride of Creed Creek.
Kathleen: The Bogus Bride of Creed Creek, a novella in the Homestead Brides Collection, is a story of two stubborn and imperfect people trying to do their best to learn from the past while securing their futures. Cora Duncan has grown up hearing about how the scoundrel Iz McBride stole their land from them. Israel McBride, Jr. knows his father is a scoundrel—he watched how Iz Sr. treated his mom—and he’s determined not to be anything like him. Cora Duncan’s failed elopement has sent her hurrying home only to find Pa dying from a bullet wound and his sworn nemesis Iz McBride buried in the back pasture.
As the last living Duncan, she decides to honor her father’s memory by making the trek to Creed Creek and claiming the land now known as the Circle M for her family. After all, Iz McBride is dead so there’s no one to dispute her ownership, or so she thought until she met Iz Jr. By that time the whole town of Creed Creek had decided she was Iz’s wife, and owing to the fact the bigamist she’d thought she was married to has left her with child, the ruse is convenient. Until Iz Jr. returns to the Circle M with plans to marry someone else.
A J: Where To Find You On The Web
Web site www.kathleenybarbo.com
Kathleen: Thank you for allowing me to host your interview on my blog.
A J: Thanks, Kathleen, for sharing this book with us.