Guest Author Interview – Barb Warner Deane

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Title: On The Homefront

Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction

Synopsis: In 1941, WWII begins for the United States, and life will never be the same for three women as they send their husbands, brothers, and friends off to war.

Ruth, a young wife and teacher, Lilly her teenaged sister-in-law, and Helen, a British war bride, learn to cope with rationing, change, fear, loss, humiliation, and brutality, while they forge an impenetrable bond and grow to be stronger than any of them ever dreamed possible. They lean on each other for support, aided by the family and friends who surround them, but when one decides to go to the front lines as part of the American Red Cross Clubmobile program, how can they cope with her absence—and more telegrams reporting loss?

Barb Warner Deane, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Barb Warner Deane.  Her book was inspired by a trip to Normandy, France. Welcome to my blog, Barb.

CH: Can you sum up your historical fiction novel in a few words?

BWD: On The Homefront is historical women’s fiction set in the U.S. during World War II, following 3 young women after their men marched off to war, which shows how they stepped up and one even joined the American Red Cross Clubmobile program and going to the front lines.

CH: What made you decide to write about strong women who step up when their men go off to war?

BWD: I learned about the Clubmobile program when visiting the American Cemetery in Normandy, France and started researching these little-known heroic young women. As the ideas grew, I realized most American women had to become heroes during WWII, whether on the front lines or the home front, in order to keep the country operating and to support the war effort.

CH: Did you have to do any special research for the historical accuracy of this book?

BWD: When I practiced law, my favorite part was the research and writing, and that holds true for writing historical fiction. I spent hours reading first-person accounts, in letters and books, of former Clubmobilers, as well as reading books, watching film, and visiting many WWII historical spots, to research life on the home front, the men on the front lines, the battles in both theaters of operations, and the overall effect of the war on Americans.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

BWD: Some aspects of the story just came to me while writing, but for some I took situations from real life. For instance, when I was visiting the WWII Museum in New Orleans, one of the WWII veterans working there told me to be sure to check out an exhibit about a soldier whose life was saved by the life-preserver made by his own mother back in the U.S., where she was a ‘Rosie-the-Riveter’ type of factory worker in a plant back in the U.S. I found the story so compelling, I had to work it into my book.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

BWD: Each book comes to me in different, but similar ways. I lock onto the people in the story—they are what catches my interest from the start. For On The Homefront, it started with a real Clubmobiler and grew as I dug into my research to incorporate these three women working in different ways to support the war effort. For Killing Her Softly, my new release later this month, I woke up one morning with the nugget of the story clear to me from a dream. I knew who the people were and went from there. For my current work-in-progress, a connected book to Killing Her Softly, I had an idea of a heroine I wanted to write about and realized she was going to fall in love with a character from Killing Her Softly, which started the wheels in motion.

CH: What made you decide to write this book?

BWD: I have always been interested in history and writing, so I guess the surprising thing is it took me until my fourth completed novel to finally write historical fiction. When I read about the Clubmobile program, and realized how little was known about them, I realized this was a story that needed to be told. I just had to work to make it right.

CH: Where do you get the inspiration for your strong women characters?

BWD: Ruth is named after my mother; and certainly, inspiration from my mother, my aunts, and other members of the Greatest Generation served as inspiration for the women in On The Homefront. In fact, there are a number of names pulled from my family tree—I’m big into genealogy, too—and the Walker farm in the story is inspired by the Walker family farm that has been in my Aunt and Uncle’s family for more than 100 years. Mostly, I have always been surrounded by strong women, from my mother, mother-in-law, aunts, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, nieces, and friends. These women all serve as inspiration.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

BWD: In OnThe Homefront, I was sure Ruth would be my favorite, given that she was named after my mother and she was the inspiration for the story. But I found each woman compelling in her own way. Lilly came from a loving home, but had to endure a lot at a fairly young age, so she grew into a fascinating woman for me. But, I think it was Helen, who came from a very difficult upbringing, who had low self-esteem and was functionally illiterate, but was at her core a strong, loving, caring, and dependable woman, who really surprised me the most.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

BWD: Each woman had her own challenges and surprises, but I think the hardest to write was Lilly, because she was so young and innocent at the start of the war, but even on the home front, those qualities couldn’t survive during the war.

CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?

BWD: One of the things that draws me to the WWII era is the clear delineation the world saw in right versus wrong, but the many shades of grey that remained for individuals trying to do their best to survive and save their world. I think the main message I see in On The Homefront is that life is a group effort. It takes a village, not only to raise a child, but to have a full and fulfilling life. We need to support and care for one another in order for any of us to really succeed in life.

Again, the main message is that your life is a successful one if you surround yourself with people you can help and who help you. My parents raised my sisters and I to believe that we are obligated and privileged to help others where we can, just by the fact that we are alive and have the ability to help. Life is not meant to be a solitary endeavor and the most rewarding life is one lived in service to others.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your historical writing style?

BWD: I think one of the distinct differences that readers are enjoying about On The Homefront is the fact that it is written in alternating first person point of view of all three women—Ruth, Lilly, and Helen. Readers feel a stronger sense of connection to each of these women, because they are in each woman’s head. For me, this era is so much about the feeling that we were all in this together, I wanted to ensure that my readers really felt that they were a part of the story, as well.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

BWD: The feedback and reviews of On The Homefront have been better than I had hoped for and I am truly grateful. I think it currently has a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and Goodreads; and the emails I’m getting from readers telling me they couldn’t put the book down; and cried and laughed; and loved my characters. The feedback tells me that it is hitting the right notes with so many readers. I’m extremely happy and fortunate that so many readers are ‘getting’ what I was going for and enjoying the story.

CH: What can we expect from you next?

BWD: My second book, Killing Her Softly, will be released on September 29, is a very different type of book. It is a contemporary romantic suspense, set in a fictional town next to my hometown of Watkins Glen, NY. The main characters are Kate, a woman trying to escape her abusive marriage, and Jack, the new sheriff in town, who happens to be Kate’s long-ago friend and brother-in-law. I dedicated this book in part to the late Nancy Richards-Akers, a wonderful romance author who was killed by her abusive husband.

I am working on two more books right now. I’m about half-way through writing a contemporary romantic women’s fiction that will be a follow-up to Killing Her Softly, set in the same town of Harper’s Glen, with several of the same characters having roles in the new story. I foresee at least a third book in the Harper’s Glen series down the road. I’m also in the research stage of my next historical, also a WWII-era story set on the American home front.

CH: Can you tell us about your website?

BWD: My website (listed below) is designed by my talented daughter, Miranda. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barbwarnerdeane

CH: How to Find Barb Warner Deane:

CH: For my audience, where is your book sold?

BWD: On The Homefront is available in both eBook and paperback from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. For anyone who would like to buy an autographed copy of the paperback, they can contact me directly, via the contact page on my website. Interested readers can also sign up for my mailing list on my contact page and, if interested, qualify for the lottery drawing for free tickets to For The Love of Books & Chicago, a large book signing of 40+ authors at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL on October 14.

CH: Any closing remarks?

BWD: Thanks so much for interviewing me about On The Homefront and my writing career, Cheryl. It is a privilege to be able to share my passion for writing, reading, and books with you and your audience.

CH: Thank you so much, Barb Warner Deane, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Barb Warner Deane and Cheryl Holloway.

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4 thoughts on “Guest Author Interview – Barb Warner Deane

  1. Cheryl. I don’t generally read historical fiction, but this book seems to have a unique plot for WWII. I think I will read it. I will let you know.

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