Monday, 14 March 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Barri Bryan

STEPH: I don't know much about "Changeless as the Heavens." Can you tell us a little about the story.

BARRI: Changeless As The heavens is set in 1946. It is the story of a woman who, has for four years, believed that her husband, Rand, is ‘missing in action, and presumed dead’. As World War Two draws to a close she learns that not only is Rand very much alive, he’s coming home. So many things have changed since he went away. Most of all, she has changed. She’s not the same person she was when he left without saying so much as a good-bye. Then she was a shy little housewife. She is now the head of a prosperous corporation. She also has formed both a business and a personal relationship with Rand’s cousin, Evan. Now she is faced with trying to cope with a situation that threatens to overwhelm her and to destroy the safe world she has spent the last four years building for herself and her children.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

BARRI: I was a teen-ager during World War Two. I have so many memories of that time. I wanted to tell of what it was really like when the war ended and servicemen came home to a world so different from the one they left behind, and when the women who stayed at home to manage on their own were suddenly faced with being thrust back into the role of the ‘little woman’.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

BARRI: I don’t really know how long I worked on this story. I worked on other projects too, so it was a work-awhile, stop-awhile process. In all, I probably spent something like a year. Although I have many memories of that time, I also found it necessary to do a lot of research.

STEPH: How did you 'craft your characters?" Did you do character bios? Research? What made these characters personal to you?

BARRI: Before I start a project, I always make character bios for my characters. I used my mother as a model for my heroine in Changeless As the heavens. My mother was a strong, capable woman who met each challenge that faced her during those war years with courage and determination. I admired her tremendously. I modeled my hero after my father. He was very much the military man. Of course I took many literary liberties. Neither of my parents was as daring or as colorful as my hero and my heroine, but they served as models for me to construct people whom I hope come across as both bigger than life and believable.

STEPH: What did you say when you first saw the cover art from Gwen Phifer?

BARRI: I was very please with the cover Gwen did for Changeless as The Heavens.
I thought she captured the spirit of the story very well. The airplanes in the sky on one side and the buildings on the horizon on the other, to me, depicted the fast moving and changing world the heroine found herself caught up in. To have her standing alone, in an open field, facing them, was a picture of her isolation and of her determination to meet and conquer what lay ahead.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

BARRI: My writing space is a small bedroom I’ve converted into an office. It is off limits to everyone but me. You definitely need an invitation to enter. Maybe you’d need a shovel too. It has a lot of ‘stuff’ crammed inside, my favorite books, my computer and printer, a granny rocking chair, two file cabinets, my radio and CD player, a chest, a couple of small tables. . . It’s probably what most people would consider messy, but I think of it as organized chaos.

STEPH: Do you have an ereader? If so, which one?

BARRI: Yes, I have a Kindle and I love it. My daughter gave it to me for my birthday. I had a old Franklin Rocket eBook but it’s nothing to compare to my Kindle, plus I can shop around in a bookstore everyday, and I do.

STEPH: Tell us a little about the state you live in.

BARRI: I live in the great state of Texas. I suppose everyone knows Texas is big, Texans tend to be braggarts, and that the state has two languages, East Texas drawl and West Texas Twang. They know of Texas’s rich history. They have read of The Alamo, Texas under six flags, and colorful characters like Jim Bowie and Sam Houston. What they may not know is its state flower is the bluebonnet, never mind that in the truest sense of the word, a bluebonnet is a weed. Its state tree is the pecan, its state bird the mocking bird and its state song is Texas Our Texas. But most of the old Texans I know think our state song is The Armadillo Song. It’s not, and that’s not even the true title. The real name of this anthem to Texas is The London Homesick Blues. It was written by Gary P. Nunn. By the way, Cotton-eyed Joe is not the official dance of Texas either.

STEPH: How important was setting to the story?

BARRI: To me, setting was very important. It touches on and colors every other aspect of the story. I like to think of a fictional setting as a framework. All details related to time, place and action fit within this framework. Properly understood and applied a setting becomes the under girding for your story.

STEPH: What state would you visit that you haven't been to?

BARRI: That’s a tough question, and one I’d never thought about until now. After some consideration, I think I’d like to go to Virginia. I’d like to see Williamsburg because of its colorful history. I would love to visit the area around Chesapeake Bay. I’d like to spend some time in Virginia Beach and go to Arlington National cemetery.


  1. Your description of soldiers returning from the war brought back so many memories of that time. Thank you for my sometimes pleasant stroll through memory lane.

    Toni Noel

  2. Barri, your books sound so interesting. I have a lot of 'military history' in my family. Historical fiction is my genre of choice to read even though I write women's fiction with inspirational romance. Like the sound of your work space. Mine is at the dining room table. Works!