Allen Takes 5 With Barbara Jean

Hi there, guys and dolls!  Well, another month is coming to a close, if you can believe it.  Even though the summer’s flying by faster than mosquitoes and mojitos, I’ve found the time to Take 5 with another of my Cozy Cat Press pals, Al Boyer.  I suggest you find a few minutes and get to know my fellow writer and friend while swatting and sipping away the above mentioned m-words, respectively.  His latest book in the Bess Bullock Series, WHISPERS IN WINTER, is ideal to ward off the heat!

Whispers in winter1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters. 

The idea for the Bess Bullock Series was born from my visits to a retirement home not far from where I live.  A dear aunt was in the facility and during my visits I couldn’t help but notice the silence, the idle time and the question of what would happen if I took a character with a heightened
sense for observing people and put her in that setting.  The answer, for me, was that she would begin to see little mysteries and feel the urge to investigate them.  What I like about the series is how Bess has grown as a person in each book in terms of adjusting to retirement, falling in love in her golden years, coming to grips with her faith, and finding purpose in her life, Bess has learned a lot about herself in this series.

2. What is your writing process like?  Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?

Starting a novel is very challenging for me.  I can only liken it to looking for the ramp to get on a highway.  The beginnings of a novel, for me, involves writing random scenes when the creative spirits strike.  Once I get a handle on the story, then the writing becomes more regular and those random scenes fall into place.  Once I know where the story is going, it becomes easier to write every day.

3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”

My first year in college I took a writing course.  At the end of the course the professor took me aside and spoke to me about a class he was assembling for writers he felt had natural ability.  There were only five of us in that class.  I had a feeling he saw something in my writing.  The following year I had the good fortune of having two short stories published by two national periodicals.  My professor was thrilled and that’s when I had a notion that I might have a future as a writer.  A few years later, when my first book was published by a national publisher, I could barely breathe when I received the news.

4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?

When I find my productivity on a manuscript is slowing up, music is a great motivator.  Classical music is typically playing when I’m working.  If there’s a specific mood or feeling I’m trying to convey with my writing, I’ll actually resort to instrumental music from soundtracks to help me.  I find it really lends to the process.  If it’s a scene or a sequence that I work on for a few days, playing the same piece of music really helps me get back into the zone before writing some more.

5.  Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?

James Joyce has been the most influential writer for me.  The way Joyce uses language is still so fresh and original.  In my opinion, no one does description better than Joyce.  There is such value put into every word selection.  I keep a copy of Joyce’s THE DUBLINERS in my nightstand.  Whenever I read it, the stories really get my creative juices flowing.  Valuing words is what Joyce did best.  Perhaps that’s why THE DUBLINERS is celebrating one hundred years of its publication.  There’s a lesson for all writers to choose each word carefully when we write.

That’s a great message to leave our chat on, Al.  Friends, be sure to check out the Bess Bullock Series and learn more about Al and his writing at


Barbara Jean

About Barbara Jean Coast

Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name of authors Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. She is currently hard at work telling the cozy tales of the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50's, early 60's, known as The Poppy Cove Mysteries.
This entry was posted in Alter Ego, Authors, Characters, Commitment, Communication, Conversation, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery Series, Creativity, Dialogue, e-publishing, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Humor, Indie Presses, Inspiration, Interviews, Mysteries, Newly Published, Perspective, Publicity, Publishing, Readers, Reading, Socializing, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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