Welcome to The Writing Life blog! Today, we are celebrating our third blog anniversary, and to help us celebrate is Barbara Eppich Struna, who was my first guest author in 2015. That seems like eons ago, and I’m happy to say that the Tuesday Author Interview series is still going strong. We have a wonderful line up of talented authors for 2017, who will chat with me about books, writing, publishing, editing, marketing books, and publishing. I hope you’ll join us each Tuesday. Thank you for your support!
A storyteller at heart, Barbara Eppich Struna lives on Cape Cod with her family in an old 1880 house where her imagination is constantly inspired by the history that surrounds her. She is the published author of two historical novels, The Old Cape House – “First Place – Historical Fiction, Royal Dragonfly Awards 2014”, and The Old Cape Teapot.
Struna is an International Best Selling Author, a Member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women, International Thriller Writers, Sisters In Crime, and President of Cape Cod Writers Center. Always a journal writer, she is fascinated by history and writes a blog about the unique facts and myths of Cape Cod.
Welcome back to The Writing Life, Barbara!
What is your book’s genre?
Suspenseful Historical Fiction
Barbara, please describe what The Old Cape House is about.
Nancy Caldwell relocates to an old sea captain’s house on Cape Cod with her husband and four children. When she discovers an abandoned root cellar in her backyard containing a baby’s skull and gold coins, she digs up evidence that links her land to the legendary tale of Maria Hallett and her pirate lover, Sam Bellamy. Using alternating chapters between the 18th and 21st centuries, The Old Cape House, a historical fiction, follows two women that are lifetimes apart, to uncover a mystery that has had the old salts of Cape Cod guessing for 300 years.
How did you come up with the title?
My husband and I, along with our children, live in an old 1880 house on Cape Cod similar to the house in the story. In fact, it is the house pictured on the book cover.
What inspired you to write this book?
I always wanted to write a story about our old house and its history. I knew from my research that it held many secrets. When a connection finally sparked in my head between our house and the 18th century Cape Cod legend of Sam Bellamy, his lover Maria Hallett, and the pirate ship Whydah, I knew I had to write The Old Cape House. Besides I’ve always maintained a philosophy in life of, ‘It could happen….” and “What if….”
Of course, I never found what my contemporary character discovered but I did uncover several surprises.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Crafting the plot, and if I discover any missing facts or holes in the history within the story, after months or years of research, that’s where I make it up and fictionalize. I love to tell a good story.
Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?
My contemporary main character resembles my life and thoughts about 50% through the storyline. The character experiences some of my adventures and choices. She takes chances as often as I do.
Did I move across the country with my children into an old 1880 house at forty years old? Yes.
Was I a stay–at-home mother of five children? Yes.
Did my husband/artist support us through his artwork? Yes. I was the business manager/agent for his career.
Did I unearth a surprise in my backyard like my character? Yes, under 10 inches of dirt.
Barbara, what do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Making sure the reader wants to turn the page.
I agree! What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?
To be honest, it’s been a while since I have had the time to finish reading someone else’s book. When I’m engrossed in writing, and I’m on Book #4, I’m too tired to read extra. Plus my research takes up a lot of time. But I do love the whole process of writing a book. In the new year of 2017, I plan to read more.
I find it difficult to read for pleasure when I’m writing, as well. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I enjoyed reading William Martin’s Cape Cod and Back Bay. I love the technique of alternating chapters between centuries, which he does so well.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?
My mother always encouraged me to follow my dreams and my husband, a full time/self-supporting artist, who never gave up on his goals.
Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?
I write in the parlor of our old house in front of a large bay window and always listen to instrumental music, usually movie soundtracks. Because all of my children are grown and on their own and my husband works in his art studio, I can play my music without interruption. I have to set the timer on my phone to 45 minutes; otherwise I’d sit at the computer all day, lost in the story.
Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
Whenever I’m driving on the road and I see a garbage bag on the side, I always think there’s a dead body or treasure inside.
I’ll admit my mind goes there, as well. Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?
I knew there would be numerous drafts and editing but did not expect the lengthy time involved as the MS moved through editors, proofreaders, and beta readers.
What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
An appreciation for a good story that is simply told and the need to keep turning the page.
Looking back, Barbara, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?
I think the best thing that happened to me was that a publisher picked up my book and guided me through the preparation and publishing of my first and second novel. I also paid attention and educated myself about the many confusing ins and outs of the process. My third book, coming in 2017, will be self-published because my publisher closed. It has turned out to be very challenging but with my background knowledge in place, I know it will be a success.
What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?
Querying too early and thinking the MS was finished. I was rejected 55 times before I re–wrote the MS based on the comments in the rejections and finally received a contract.
Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
Edit, edit and edit. Find at least 10 beta readers that include, some family, friends, but mostly readers who are merely acquaintances.
Great advice. Website and social media links?
https://www.facebook.com/strunabooks/ B.E.Struna Books
Where can we find your book?
What’s next for you?
As I mentioned before, my third novel in The Old Cape Series will be out in June 2017, The Old Cape Hollywood Secret.
Currently I’m writing the fourth in the series.
Thanks for visiting us again at The Writing Life, Barbara. I wish you the very best with your series. Happy writing.
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.