Interview with Barbara M. Britton
I received a fabulous gift this summer, an advance copy of Barbara M. Britton’s “Providence: Hannah’s Journey.” All the elements of great storytelling are present in this compelling novel. From the first page, I felt as though I was truly on the journey with Hannah as the author created an immediately likeable and sympathetic character in addition to writing incredibly vivid descriptions that placed me firmly in each scene. The book’s suspenseful plot is interwoven with the wonderfully rich history of the Bible along with all of the cultural expectations of the time. Britton’s storytelling skill makes it hard to believe that this is her debut novel.
I am so glad to know that in addition to the release of “Providence: Hannah’s Journey” (available now on e-book and in paperback starting October 1), her next book “Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey” will be out in February.
Check out the fabulous book trailer for both books here!
Barbara joins us today to talk about her writing journey and specifically about her books.
As you can see, Barbara, I completely enjoyed “Hannah’s Journey.” Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your writing journey, and how this novel came to be?
Thanks for the kind words, Valerie. I am thrilled to be here on your blog. You are one of the friends I met on my nine year publishing journey. When Hannah’s story debuts, it will have been nine years since I started writing—almost to the day. “Providence: Hannah’s Journey” was the fourth book I wrote, and it was the first to sell. It took me awhile to learn the craft of writing and how the business side of publishing works.
I am fortunate to live in Wisconsin, outside of Milwaukee, where I have access to writing groups and great conferences. We met at UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute which was the first conference I ever attended. Both my sons are Badgers—one current, one former.
I taught chapel for six years to elementary students and I got the idea for my story from teaching on the servant girl in the story of Naaman in II Kings 5. I wanted to know how that poor girl was captured and if she ever received her freedom. Alas, Hannah (my servant girl) was born.
It is intriguing to me that your story included very authentic-scenes during Biblical times. I imagine that you had to do a lot of research. Can you tell us a little bit about that and maybe some of the difficulties you encountered to make sure the details were accurate?
Thank goodness for the internet! I have never been to Israel, although I hope to go someday, so I viewed pictures online and from friends who had recently toured Israel. Since I am writing waaay back in time where there may not be archaeological evidence, I rely on other Bible stories and what we do know to craft my world. My husband has a Masters in Theology, so my basement is full of textbooks and commentaries that come in handy.
You did a wonderful job creating sexual tension in the story without needing to be graphic in your descriptions. In particular, your flirtatious banter is very enjoyable to read. Do you find writing romantic scenes difficult? (I know that I do!)
Ah, this is a catch-22 for me. I can’t write sex scenes and be published in Christian fiction. Everything must fade to black before there’s too much skin touching. I enjoy writing the more sensual scenes because they are so fun—boy gets girl finally!! And then they kiss. I have to be careful how far I take it or my scene will be edited.
I think it is more difficult to write a story without sex and still show the love between two characters. When two people are rolling in the sheets, those scenes take up word count. I have to put that word count into story, plot, characterization, and feelings. It’s more difficult, in my opinion.
“Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey” is a very sensual story but there is no sex on the page. And I didn’t get edited!
I’ve already mentioned that a second book in your Tribes of Israel series will be coming out in February—“Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey.” Are there other titles that we can look forward to or is it too soon for that question?
I’m finishing another Biblical fiction novel at the moment. My publisher has a sweet Young Adult novel of mine, but I haven’t heard if that will be snapped up.
What advice do you have for a writer who is just starting out?
I received this advice when I was starting out, and it has served me well. 1) Join professional organizations and get involved in their local chapters. 2) Attend writing conferences and take classes to learn the craft of writing.
Writing shouldn’t be a solitary adventure. Get involved in writing groups and network. This will help you find a critique partner, beta-readers, a support system, and a tribe who understands what it means to be a writer.
Would you like to share the titles of some of your favorite books?
Oh, this could get me in trouble as I have many published friends, and if I forget one…..
The first novel of Biblical fiction I read was “Pearl in the Sand” by Tessa Afshar.
And of course I loved “Circle of Nine” because I knew nothing of Celtic mythology before I read it and there’s kissing! (Thank you, Barbara! You did NOT have to say that.)
Let’s wrap it up with what I call the “Fast Five.”
Favorite Crayon Color: Purple
Favorite TV Show: Blue Bloods (and they better not bring that nasty serial killer back!)
Favorite Dessert: Warm chocolate chip cookie with lots of chips
Worst job you ever had: Reading lists aloud to see if they matched
Best job you ever had: Author--although it’s probably the scariest because someone, somewhere, will not like my books.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Thanks so much for visiting us! It was a pleasure getting to know you better!!
Thanks for having me. It’s been fun. We will meet again at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books.