Kathleen Y’Barbo, a mother of three sons and one daughter, lives in the Houston area. An award-winning, bestselling novelist of Christian fiction, Kathleen, is a publicist with Books & Such Literary Agency. In addition, she speaks on publicity and the craft of writing. For more information, visit www.kathleenybarbo.com.
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Kathleen Y’Barbo is the author of numerous contemporary and historical romances, including GOLDEN TWILIGHT, CAJUN HEARTS and BUILDING DREAMS. The second installment in her All That Glitters series, ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN, centers on an independent and headstrong young woman with an inconvenient attraction to the detective hired to protect her as she pursues her journalistic aspirations in 1885 Colorado. In this interview, Y’Barbo explains how she first became interested in tales of the Old West and discusses how a visit to author Margaret Mitchell’s house served as inspiration for this story. She also shares some fascinating but little-known facts about legendary figures Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, elaborates on the role faith plays in the lives of her characters, and hints at what readers can look forward to in the next book in the series.
Question: This is the second in a series of western romance novels. How did you get started writing westerns?
Kathleen Y’Barbo: My love of westerns goes way back to my childhood when the television in our house often tuned in to the likes of “Maverick,” “Have Gun – Will Travel,” “Gunsmoke,” or anything starring John Wayne. As an adult my love of history just added to my interest in the Old West. Some of my favorite books and most of my favorite movies have some tie to the period and setting, so it was an easy jump for me to write books on the topic as well.
Q: Tell us about your visit to the Margaret Mitchell house (author of GONE WITH THE WIND) and how that inspired Anna Finch’s story.
KY: I’m one of those odd people who actually read GONE WITH THE WIND before I saw the movie. Thus, I got to savor every page of a story that was much more in depth than the film. So when longtime friend and amazing WaterBrook author Tracey Bateman suggested sneaking out of ICRS for a visit to the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum on Peachtree Street, I was thrilled! It was there that I learned of the story of the “real” Ashley and Melanie. Melanie was based on Mitchell's third-cousin, and Doc's first cousin and close friend, Mattie "Sister Melanie" Holliday. Doc moved West and became the gambler and gunfighter, and Mattie joined a convent and became a nun. The fact that Doc continued to write Mattie until his death intrigued me, especially when I learned a family member burned those letters after Mattie died. Wondering what was in those letters was the starting point for Doc’s part in ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN.
Q: Was there anything surprising or unusual that you learned about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp during your research?
KY: As I mentioned, the first surprise was the connection between Doc and Margaret Mitchell and the sad tale of letters that are now lost forever. I learned that it was common practice for men to claim they were a famous outlaw, and often Doc and others were charged with crimes that happened at the same time but in different cities. Also, I found out the most popular photograph of Doc Holliday as an adult is likely not him at all but one of these impersonators. And finally, I was astonished to learn that Wyatt Earp lived a long and happy life, retiring to California where he was quite at home among the film stars of the day. He lived into the 1920s and boasted several movie star cowboys, including Tom Mix, as his pallbearers.
Q: Both Anna and Eugenia Cooper, the main character in the first book, THE CONFIDENTIAL LIFE OF EUGENIA COOPER, are strong female characters. What can they teach us about the faith of women in the Wild West?
KY: Women in the Wild West were some of the strongest I’ve come across in my research. Life was not easy no matter what your station, and men truly ruled the roost. So women not only had to be strong, they also had to be smart. But beyond all of that, women really put great stock in faith and often were the backbone of the family in that regard. Both Anna and Gennie are woman who love the Lord and are willing to step out in whatever direction He leads.
Q: Anna longs to become a journalist, but her father prefers for her to get married and settle down. How does Anna learn to follow her dream, especially during a time when women were not easily accepted as reporters?
KY: Anna feels the need to right the wrongs she sees around her, which drives her to make her dream of becoming a reporter a reality. She’s reluctant at first to consider herself a “real writer,” but when the Lord drops the story of a lifetime into her lap, Anna knows she must act despite her lack of experience. It is that combination of boldness in her cause and humility in her demeanor that endears her not only to the editor at the newspaper but also to those whose stories she tells.
Q: Anna hopes to discover the truth about Doc Holliday. How does her faith deepen as she fulfills this quest?
KY: The more she learns about who Doc is, the more she sees not only his imperfections but also his loyalty to those he loves. But as she follows this story --- and Doc --- the level of danger increases until Anna knows she can only continue if the Lord is in it. Thus, through faith --- and despite the entreaties of her father and the Pinkerton assigned to guard her --- Anna continues her quest to determine the truth about Doc Holliday.
Q: What project are you currently working on? Will any character from Anna Finch receive her own story?
KY: I am working on the third book in the Women of the West series, and the heroine is a familiar face to those who’ve read THE CONFIDENTIAL LIFE OF EUGENIA COOPER and ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN. Charlotte Beck first appeared as the bratty daughter of hero Daniel Beck in THE CONFIDENTIAL LIFE OF EUGENIA COOPER, then reappears as a lovely but lively teenager in ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN. I’m having a great time with Charlotte and her bewildered beau. I don’t have a title for the book yet, but my editor assures me she’s considering something with the phrase “Marriage of Inconvenience” in it.
Q: How can we get more information about you and your book, ANNA FINCH AND THE HIRED GUN?
KY: You can always find out more about me and my books through my website at www.kathleenybarbo.com. I also have an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, as well as ShoutLife and LinkedIn. Check out my Facebook Fan page at http://bit.ly/bYVBGb.
© Copyright 2010, Kathleen Y'Barbo. All rights reserved
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