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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Barbara Conrey talks about her new book, My Secret To Keep, and what inspired her to write it.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Barbara Conrey about her life and career, what inspired her to start writing, and the work that went into her new book, My Secret To Keep.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m the USA Today bestselling author of Nowhere Near Goodbye, published in August 2020. I’m also a mother, a grandmother, and a friend to many. I like to travel, hike, and collect antiques.
And I’m passionate about beagles and the Beagle Rescue Project.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have always wanted to write; even as a young child, I would make stories up in my head. I lived in my head! I was timid; wanting to write equated with wanting to communicate.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I didn’t find my voice and the time to write until my family was raised and I retired. I so admire authors who also hold full-time jobs, raise a family, and write best-selling books.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Five years, I believe. There was a lot of rewriting involved!
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Two years. I have learned a few things!
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write My Secret To Keep?
I knew I was going to write My Secret to Keep, my second book before I finished writing the first one, Nowhere Near Goodbye. I had a secondary character in Nowhere Near Goodbye, Miss Maggie, and she insisted she had so many secrets to tell that I found I could not ignore her.
What were your biggest challenges with writing My Secret To Keep?
Although Nowhere Near Goodbye and My Secret to Keep are standalone books, they are connected. So I had an already established timeline I had to adhere to when I wrote My Secret to Keep. I created this massive calendar to record the events and keep them where they needed to be. This was a massive undertaking for someone who is not the most organized.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Miss Maggie is the protagonist in My Secret to Keep, and she is a mix of many people I know and love.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
The antagonist in My Secret to Keep is a sneaky little devil because he appears to be the good guy, but he is very much the bad guy, causing the most harm. I was inspired to write him by a previous employer who appeared to have my best interests at heart until she didn’t.
What is the inciting incident of My Secret To Keep?
In My Secret to Keep, the inciting incident is when Maggie loses her baby in childbirth.
What is the main conflict of My Secret To Keep?
There are both internal and external conflicts in My Secret to Keep. Internally, Miss Maggie struggles with feelings she has for another female character in the book during a period when these feelings are frowned upon and illegal. Externally, Miss Maggie struggles with the loss of her child.
Did you plot My Secret To Keep in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I do both. I write a very loose outline to get me started and gather a few characters, and then I let myself run with the idea I have. At some point, I struggle with getting from where I am to the next part of the book, and I go back to my outline. It might sound a little disorganized, but I need to let myself run with the story to get my creativity flowing.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did My Secret To Keep need?
Before sending my manuscript to my agent and publisher, I always recruit a few critique partners to provide honest opinions on what they think works. Then, after rewriting what needs to be reworked, I submit it.
I have had excellent line and content editors with my publisher. My Secret to Keep didn’t require nearly the edits that Nowhere Near Goodbye (my first novel) did.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Don’t give up! It is easy to fall into the ‘I’m not good enough; I’ll never get an agent/publisher’ snare. Publishing is a brutal business, but if your dream is to hold a book in your hands that has your name on it, you will find a way to get it done.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’d love to! I’m about halfway through a first draft that is entirely different than anything I’ve written. The protagonist is male, and it is extremely contemporary. It is, however, still Women’s Fiction, as the protagonist has an arc where, through decisions he makes, he changes the course of his life. I love it so much!
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Sometimes I still pinch myself! As I’ve said earlier, the publishing world is a tough nut to crack. In some instances, I’ve just been in the right place at the right time. I’ve also worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life.
Has it been worth it? Totally!
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BookBub: Barbara Conrey Books – BookBub
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