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A Seller of Cyanide and Romance

Welcome to The Writer's Prompt Author Interviews of 2022. Let me introduce you to our first participant Barbara Elsborg.

Barbara is from Kent, England, and always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Volcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm), she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.

She writes stories about two guys, two guys, and one woman, and one guy and one woman in most genres—contemporary, paranormal, sci-fi, suspense, urban fantasy. Her books feature bad boys and quirky heroines, and she hopes they are as much fun to read as they are to write.

Our first participant sounds intriguing so far. Cyanide, romance, a sexy husband, and ungrateful children; her life could be the plot to a story. But, what makes her tick, and why writing? Let's delve into the inner workings of her mind and discover her tips and tricks to putting pen to paper. And, answer this question, do all writers process creativity the same way.

Barbara, thank you for joining me on this adventure. We'll get right to the nitty gritty; what inspired you to become a writer?

I started writing fanfic when I was at school. I probably have 100 stories based on TV shows. I wrote because I was an introvert and didn't have any special friends. I never went out. I stayed at home, watched TV, and read or wrote stories. I hated school though I was a swot. Writing was my escape. I was always the heroine of my stories, courageous, gorgeous, tall, and blonde. Confession - I only had the tall and blonde in common with them! I've never not written. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to do. It's a part of me, and I don't think I'll ever be able to stop.

It sounds like writing means to you what creating art means to me; an unexplainable calling. How long have you been writing?

From my early teens, then more seriously in my twenties. A long time!

What type of writer are you? For example, do you plan out your storyline and have a bio for each character, or do you let the creativity flow and see where it leads you?

I write by the seat of my pants. I plan nothing, so each day is an adventure. I do make notes when ideas for the story occur to me, often in the middle of the night – using a light-up pen. No bios; I let those develop organically.

Interesting, I never thought of using a light-up pen when the witching hour calls; genius. Do you follow a strict writing schedule, or do you sneak writing in when you have time?

I try to write from around 8.30 to 4.00 – most days, but it does depend on what else I need to do.EG look after grandchildren.

I have grandchildren too, but they live in other cities. I should have no excuse for not writing, but there is always art to create and Netflix to watch. What is your writing style? For example, are you a meat and potatoes leave it to the readers' imagination kind of writer, or are you a heavy with description, dialogue, and lots of extra gravy writer?

I love writing dialogue. I'm not so good at description, though I do try hard. I also like writing banter and humour. I like to think I have a distinctive style, but only others can tell me that! I tend to write one day, then start the next by reading through what I've written before I write on. As a consequence, I sort of self-edit as I go along, so my first drafts take ages but are quite tight.

I love writing dialogue too. I wish I were more diligent with my editing; it would make rewrites so much easier.

I find myself listening to conversations and mentally note facial expression to responses, which I never did before. Since becoming a writer, have you acquired any unusual peculiarities? For example, do you find yourself studying people more and critiquing their habits or editing their speech?

LOL No, not that I know of! I do find that I'm more critical when I'm reading a book. So if I spot errors, it irks me that the author didn't research that point.

Ahh, it irks me when I see that in movies. You said you write notes. Does that mean you have a purse or pocket full of napkins that have ideas you get while about town like I do?

No, but I carry a notebook in my handbag, and as I said, I write notes in the middle of the night.

I have a feeling I know the answer to this next question, but I will ask it anyway. How many new, unused writing journals do you currently own? Did you buy them for future projects or because they look pretty or because you can't remember where the other ones are?

None. I only write on plain pads.

Yep, I thought that was going to be your answer. I currently have four within arms reach, and only one has writing in it. I use it for a D&D Campaign, so I don't forget what my character is up to. What scenes do you have the most fun writing? For example, fight scenes, heavy dialogue scenes, or scenes where your character is pondering the meaning of life.

Scenes that are humorous and heavy on dialogue are the most fun to write.

I like writing humor too. I think it adds depth to your characters' personalities. Are you a single project writer, or do you have several projects on the go?

Single project. I don't cope well with multiple plots. However, I do have one story part written that I set aside when other projects demand my time.

I have a friend that has several writing projects on the go and finishes all of them in a year. She's successful so, I thought I would give it a try. Three projects and four years later, they are still waiting for me to finish them. I think I've learned that I am a single project kind of writer. What have you learned about yourself from being a writer regarding your strengths and weaknesses?

I think I'm more thoughtful, more willing to listen, a better listener, and more tolerant. I still haven't learned to cope with severe criticism. LOL

Criticism is a hard pill to swallow, no matter your profession. Are you strictly a writer, or do you have other creative outlets? For example, do you enjoy participating in Paint Nights or know how to strum a guitar, or can you knit a sweater?

No other outlets, really. I do make my own Christmas cards, but that's about it.

I love making cards; they're so much fun. Have there been any exciting changes in your life as a result of being a published author? For example, do strangers ask for your autograph, do you have a movie deal in the works, or can you now live solely off your writing income?

I've been on BBC TV – in a documentary talking about DH Lawrence as a writer of erotic literature and myself as a writer of modern romance. That led to me being on two local radio stations. I did have two guys from LA trying to get one of my books into the hands of a movie studio, but it was always going to be a long shot. I can't live off my income. I don't sell nearly enough books. And no – never been approached by a stranger wanting an autograph. LOL

Well, that is exciting; you never know when Hollywood will call. I've never been approached for an autograph that wasn't associated with a book signing. But I often thought of hiring someone to approach me for an autograph while lunching with my sisters. I thought that would be a fun trick to play. So, onto a more serious, hot-topic question; what publishing route do you prefer? Self-publication, traditional or hybrid, and why?

I used to be with 6 publishers. But a few went under, and then I decided to withdraw from the rest. Now I prefer to be self-published. The big publishers were never likely to be interested in me. The smaller ones do no more marketing than I could do myself, so it makes financial sense to go it alone. Also, I get far more say in my covers.

I self-publish as well, because I am a control freak, but just a bit of one. Now that you are a published writer, what sage advice do you have for budding authors looking to publish their first book?

Read, read and read! You learn a lot from reading what others have written. Not how-to books but novels in the genre you want to write in. I joined a critique group and learned a lot from other writers there. It was the success of one of my friends in the group that inspired me to change genre and get published as she'd done.

I've heard that too, that reading makes for a better writer. I don't read as much as I should. But with this project, I see a lot of reading in the near future. In 100 words or less, tell us what you have planned for your writing career for 2022. For example, are you releasing a new book/s and or attending author events.

I have the third book in my paranormal series coming out on the 20th of January. It's called Inbetweeners and is about an angel and a demon who hate each other at first sight. As for the rest of the year, I have several books planned, including a sci-fi story. No author events. Not really my thing.

Thank you, Barbara, for being the first author of my project; it was lovely to meet you. I wish you all the best with your writing. I think we have a lot in common, I too, have a sales background, but nothing quite exciting as cyanide and romance.

Barbara loves hearing from readers and can be contacted at If you'd like to hear about future releases, please ask to be put on her mailing list.

Barbara's Links


Facebook group - Barbara's Besties



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