I'm so excited to have Kara Barbieri on the blog today to talk about her writing journey and recent three-book deal with St. Martin's Press. The description of the first book in the series, White Stag, can be found below.
"Pitched as "Twilight " meets "Game of Thrones", the series follows a 17-year-old girl who is captured from her village and brought to live in the brutally beautiful Permafrost as a servant to Goblins. She finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover secrets to find the truth about who she is and the world that has become her home." -Goodreads
Q&A with Kara Barbieri
First off I want to thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed! Congratulations on your book deal! I'm so excited to get my hands on this novel! I know from your website you started writing it while in rehab for your eating disorder. Can you tell us a little more about how the idea came to be?
Thank you! I’m happy to be here! When I was in rehab for my eating disorder, I started using writing White Stag as a cathartic outlet. A lot of the themes in White Stag (such as if emotions make you weak or strong, vulnerability, and grey areas instead of the black and white) came from that. I also was inspired by the show Lost Girl because there was one episode that had to do with a stag hunt and that set the ball rolling for the stag side of things. The poem in the beginning of the novel--Der Erlkonig--also inspired the story as I’ve always been obsessed with figures of the Wild Hunt and the myths of the Erlking in Germanic lore. So all of this came together to what it is today! A funny aside, in the beginning Soren was named Janneke and Janneke was named Soren.
Have you always been a writer? If yes, how did you decide to take the plunge to put this novel on Wattpad?
I’ve been writing since I was eleven. It’s actually a very funny story because I have a twin and we were always trying to one-up each other. So she started writing which meant, of course, I had to start writing. Thanks, sis! I’d been querying novels before and had been on other types of writing sites and the thought occurred to me that posting it on Wattpad could help me see what readers did or didn’t like. I also had this thought of ‘well, if I get like 1 in a million style lucky maybe it’ll actually get popular’. And it did! I’m really glad I joined Wattpad and posted the story on there, not just because of the published aspect, but because the community there is so wonderful and supportive and fun. I definitely would recommend the site to others.
Was there a moment you realized White Stag was becoming a Wattpad phenomenon?
To be completely honest, there’s still a lot of moments where I’m like “Wattpad phenomenon? Who, me?” It’s so surreal. Sometimes I’m like “Are we talking about the same people?” It’s still really hard to grasp my head around, especially if I’m responding to comments because I view that as the nice and friendly thing to do and then a reader is like “OMG YOU TALKED TO ME” (caps included) and I’m like “Of course I did! Why wouldn’t I? So, I think it still hasn’t sunk in and I’m not sure if it ever will exactly. In my head I’m just me. A 21 year old writer with a slightly unhealthy obsession with goats.
What was the process like from Wattpad popularity to book deal? It must have been such an amazing moment to get the offer! Can you describe that moment?
Working with Wattpad has been the best thing ever, for sure. I really love being so connected to the readers on such a social platform and I definitely think the readers are who made this happen. I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t read it!
When they told me I had the book deal, I was in shock. A few days before, I was moping because I was worried nothing would ever happen. Fastforward to that Tuesday and we’re all talking and I was told I had a deal and I’m pretty sure I said something among the lines of “What the hell? You couldn’t have told me two days ago? Man, screw you guys.” But in a nice way, we were all laughing and I was smiling so hard I probably got a few new dimples. I kept asking “Wait, is this for real?” It was a nice way to start a Tuesday!
Are there any particular things you struggle with as a writer? What are some helpful tips you have?
It takes me a long time to find an idea and stick with it and develop it enough to the point where I can write it. It’s always frustrating for me because I want to write now. I’m very picky about what my projects are so if it doesn’t have a certain ‘feel’, I can’t do it.
My advice would be that you shouldn’t force yourself to write. Let your ideas stew a bit if you need to. If your ideas come slower, like mine, then it’s really tempting to get a plot bunny and go for it, but I’ve found that sitting on the idea for a while is more helpful.
I know you've had your own struggles through the years. How do you think that's influenced your writing?
I’ve gone through a lot over the years and I think my writing reflects that, especially in the character arcs. I like when my characters are faced with decisions where there are no right or wrong answers. I like moral dilemmas. I love writing my characters in shades of grey, having the plot--who are the heroes and who are the villains--being blurred. There is no cut and dry answer in my writing and I believe that reflects to my life a lot.
Finally, what are your plans for the future in terms of writing? Do you have any other novel ideas bouncing around?
Oh! I’ll definitely still be writing! I’ll write until my fingers fall off if need be. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I do have other novel ideas bouncing around at the moment; I’m currently rewriting a bit of an older project that I stopped that I’d love to continue.
Thanks for having me!