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Interview With Tammy Barley

Hi Tammy, welcome! You have a new book coming out this summer, Hope's Promise. Tell us about it!
The Sierra Chronicles is one epic story of the impossible yet undeniable love between Jake Bennett and Jessica Hale, told through Love's Rescue, Hope's Promise, and Faith's Reward (coming in January 2011). The book blurb nicely conveys the heart of the story, but I'll toss in what isn't there: My novels carry you back in time to the far reaches of the American West, place you into the saddle of a running horse, and slip you into the cool water of a purling river on a sweltering summer night. I write that you may experience it all firsthand, the stories unfolding around you, woven throughout with bold, unforgettable characters and plenty of romance. I write in such a way that readers live the adventure.

The Sierra Chronicles, and in a huge way, Hope's Promise in particular, are based on little-known historical events that chiseled out and formed the real West, based on countless journals written by people who lived it.

Have you always written Historicals? What made you choose this particular genre?
LOL! I'm one of those folks who grew up thinking that God must have made some mistake and plunked me into the wrong century. I grew up touring dead presidents' homes, Civil War battlefields, and horseback riding across the West. History was more real to me than modern times.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Kidney failure--no kidding. Until then, when I was on dialysis, I didn't have the time or the opportunity to write fulltime. God works in mysterious ways? Definitely!

Like most authors, you have a busy home life outside of writing. What's your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Staying sane. God has blessed me with laughter, a wacky sense of humor, and an awesome, awesome family. Together, we make it all happen. Without all that (and my boatloads of organizational tendencies, including delegation), I'd really have a challenge.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
It's funny that you asked. At first, I tried writing for ABA crowd, but God kept slipping in. I'd be typing away, and pow! there's another faith element. I walk with God every moment. I don't know how I ever thought he wouldn't follow me into fiction. Finally he showed me that he wants us to use the gifts he gives us (writing, in this case), and the experiences we go through, to touch hearts for him. Now I just calmly let him slip in whenever he want to.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
That was the moment Terry Burns, my agent extraordinaire, telephoned to say that Whitaker House didn't want just one book, but that they wanted the whole series and wanted to be the first to see the first book of the next series. I was completely calm when Terry and I hung up, and equally as collected when I dialed my dad. The moment my dad said "Hello?" the dams ruptured, and I couldn't speak. I just sobbed. Finally he yelled into the phone, "Tell me what's wrong! Is the house burning down?" If it was, I wouldn't have had a clue. From the cloud I was sailing up past, I couldn't even see the roof any more.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I've always been a daydreamer (my second-grade teacher's unsavory comments on my report card are the first documented occurrence), and I see stories everywhere. But mostly they're inspired by history, by mountains, and by faith discoveries. Stories are like weeds--those puppies just grow and grow, and there's no stopping them.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I place the reader into the story, so that it comes alive around them, like they've just stepped into the middle of a movie set. If they can't feel the cool water of the stream purling between their toes, then they aren't experiencing a book to its fullest.

Finish this sentence – If I were do to it all over again, I would change...nothing. Experience--even hardship--is, and always will be, the best teacher.

Any parting words?
I'm a student of wisdom, so I'll offer simple, plain advice: Write what you know, write what you love, and never give up. If you use the word "can't," remove it from your vocabulary. When you start thinking "How can I . . ." the answers will come.

Thanks for sharing with us, Tammy!
Thank you SOOO much!

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