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8 With An Author -- Barbara Townsend

Posted on December 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

You've had a chance to learn a bit more about some of your favorite people. Now we offer the opportunity for you to get to know one of our newest additions. Writers AMuse Me is thrilled to welcome into the fold...


1. What made you write Blood Atonement? Did research lead you to the story, or did the story cause you to do the research?

After I retired from the Air Force, I attended the University of Wyoming. While there, I scored an internship at the Toppan Rare Books Library where I completed a research project about women in 1800s Mormon polygamy. To fully understand polygamy, my research led me deeper into the religion's history.

After the project was complete—and I had won the American Heritage Center's student research competition—I thought about continuing the research and writing a non-fiction book. That desire ended when my first fiction-writing class hooked me on mystery writing. Combining my stash of research about a little-known segment of American history with my desire to write a mystery led to Blood Atonement.

2. Where do you like to write? If you could write anywhere, where would that be?

I like to write wherever the mood strikes. I can focus wherever I happen to be: in my quiet home office, a noisy coffee shop, or during a brew fest. Yes, during a brew fest I plopped on the ground and wrote flash fiction. For me the place to write is where the urge strikes, but most often in my office.

3. In hindsight, many of us find that our writing was impacted by our schooling. What was your favorite assignment in high school English, your least favorite, and the one that affected you most?

I don't recall much of high school other than being involved with sports. After high school, I had written articles or reports for the military. What turned the page—so to speak—for my writing was my first fiction writing class at university. Upper division English assignments and workshops for fiction and personal essays changed the world for me. Figuring out how to write a mystery and make all the pieces fit tapped my "how does this work" mentality. The personal essays made me focus on recalling the snippets in my life and make me focus on why those moments in life are important.

4. If your writing career was a novel, what would the title be?

Following No Leader

5. Books can be like comfort food. Which one book is the one you go back to the most?

Any book from the series All Creatures Great and Small. James Herriot's writings are light reading, yet vivid and compelling.

6. You’re stuck on a deserted island with only three books and one other author. Name the books and the author then tell us why.

The three books I'd pick are: any one of the Little House (Laura Ingalls Wilder) books, All Creatures Great and Small, and The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. The poor soul I'd drag with me is Benjamin Franklin.

The Little House books are my childhood comfort favorites. All Creatures Great and Small and the rest of the series make me cry with sadness and happiness. It reveals another era, peoples with varying motivations, and animals. The Great Influenza ... is a university textbook that is so riveting I had to keep it. The book is a fascinating revelation of American—and world—history and highlights how fear led to an international catastrophe.

Franklin is my idol: insightful, profound, questioning, and a rapscallion. Life with him would never be boring. He's so intelligent he'd figure out a way to get us off the island.

7. What genre do you really want to try your hand at, but haven’t yet? Which genre could you not write?

Romance novels intrigue me. I appreciate science fiction and fantasy, but I have no desire to develop a storyline.

8. What comes after Blood Atonement for your writing career?

Blood Atonement is actually my second novel. My first novel is Clear and Convincing Evidence, an unpublished contemporary mystery set on the University of Wyoming campus. The protagonist is Jennifer, a journalism student whose investigation into a prank exposes a student's murder and its cover-up. The novel is complete, but soon after I finished it, the university received huge funding for major building projects. Many of the buildings in the novel will no longer exist. I want to adapt the novel for a fictional campus. I hope to publish CACE and continue it as a series.

Barbara Townsend is the author of Blood Atonement: A Pioneer Trail Mystery, which will be released in print, digital and Kindle format in 2013. Congratulations, Barbara. 


Watch for new authors and questions in the new year. We would like to wish everyone a very safe, wonderful Christmas and a 2013 full of words, stories and muse-like inspiration.

Categories: Ask the Author, Publishing House

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1 Comment

Reply Sue Henry
11:11 AM on January 1, 2013 
Excellent Bobby !