Saturday, July 18, 2015

0 Barbara Stewart, author of WHAT WE KNEW, on being happiest when writing

WHAT WE KNEW is the latest novel by Barbara Stewart, and we're thrilled to have here to chat about writing.

Barbara, how long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was a pretty long one—almost sixteen years from the time I started seriously writing until my first novel, THE IN-BETWEEN, was published. I write almost every day, and in that time I wrote a ton of short stories, completed three novels, and started and put aside two more. That’s a lot of pages. But I loved writing every single one of them.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Enjoy the process. Despite rejection, don’t stop writing. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. Sure, there were times when I wanted to quit, just move on and do something else with my life, but I couldn’t. And here’s why. I’m happiest when I am writing. I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I’ll bet some of you reading this feel the same way. So just keep doing it.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Here’s my day: I get up, shower and dress, make a beeline for the coffee pot, then sit down at my desk and write. My husband is not allowed to talk to me in the morning. He’s also banned from showing me anything on the Internet. Sometimes he’ll stand in the doorway to my office chuckling about something he’s watching on his iPad, but I ignore him and he eventually wanders off.

Three hours and a pot of coffee later, I take a break and do necessary things, like work and clean the litterbox…you know, fun stuff. Before dinner, I head over to my local coffee shop and spend another hour writing in a spiral notebook, brainstorming ideas I’ll flesh out the next morning on my computer.


What We Knew by Barbara Stewart
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 7/14/2015

When a local myth starts to seem like a dangerous reality, two girls are set on a path that could change their lives forever
"When I was little, I imagined a monster: Scaly hands. Pits for eyes..."

When Tracy and her best friend, Lisa, were kids, stories about a man—a creep who exposes himself to little girls—kept them out of the woods and in their own backyards. But Tracy and Lisa aren't so little anymore, and the man in the woods is nothing but a stupid legend. Right?

But someone is in the woods. Someone is watching. And he knows all their secrets, secrets they can't tell anyone—not even each other.

"Monsters don't exist."

Lisa's just being paranoid. At least that’s what Tracy thinks. But when a disturbing "gift" confirms her worst fears, it sets the girls on a dangerous journey that takes them beyond the edge of the woods. But reality is more terrifying than the most chilling myth, and what they find will test the bonds of friendship, loyalty, and love.

"Once upon a time, two girls were lost in the woods."

In Barbara's Stewart's What We Knew, Tracy and Lisa can't destroy the evil they'll face, but can they stop it from destroying each other?

Purchase What We Knew at Amazon
Purchase What We Knew at IndieBound
View What We Knew on Goodreads


I spent the first nineteen years of my life wanting to be someone else: Laura Ingalls, Elton John, Nancy Spungen, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath. It was hard finding work as any of those people, so I went to college. That was hard, too, because I had to pick a major. I was interested in a lot of things—psychology, sociology, history—but none of them screamed "career" at me.

And then my English professor asked if I wanted to write a short story for extra credit. I gave it a shot. And then I wrote another and another…I couldn’t stop.

I knew what I wanted to do. I finished my BA in English, married the awesome Dave Kopecek, and moved to the Midwest to get an MFA in Creative Writing. Fast forward through two businesses, a wood-paneled station wagon, a Route 66 pilgrimage, a close call with a tornado, a 1967 Cadillac, a soul-trying move back East, a Shining-like winter in the woods, a run-in with a rabid raccoon, the restoration of an old house, and I still don’t know who I am, but that’s why I write. I’m a kid again; I get to be whoever I want: the tomboy, the rock star, the crazy artist, the drug-sick groupie, the goddess, the suicidal poet.

Now I live in the Catskill Mountains with my still awesome husband and an odd little cat named Shirley. I read a lot of true crime and crochet way too many scarves. I love amusement parks, anything with peanut butter, and Key West. I'm all about gritty, edgy stories with surprise endings. Dark and unsettling endings, too, because life is messy. I also like horror—the supernatural kind—thanks to my grandmother. I still can't believe some of the stuff she let me watch.

I am represented by Amy Tipton at Signature Literary Agency.

Have you had a chance to read WHAT WE KNEW yet? How inspiring is Barbara Stewart's sixteen year journey to publication? Does writing make you happy?

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Jen, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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