Okay, Layla Writes Love peeps. Let’s welcome romance author Barbara Combs Williams. She is a Georgia native, now residing in Villa Rica. She is a rising moon in the night sky. Her inspiration comes from her husband of over forty years, who once told her, “Why not just write it down if you can’t say it out loud?” Barbara has been writing it down for the past twelve years.
Barbara writes fiction novels, poetry and short stories. She published Soul Catcher, a Gothic epic set in rhyme. Her novel, The Color of Your Tears is about Jackie, a woman who has spent years raising her family and living for everyone else. Check out the blurb.
On this particular Friday night in June, Jackie Mattock was having the big one! A major meltdown was in progress, even though she should be joyous. Even though her son was getting married tomorrow, she had lost herself; her heart, her brain was all frozen in time. She could not enjoy the present nor see a future for herself because she was locked in the past. For the last twenty-five years, she had lived a lie so terrible that she used all of her “get out of jail free” cards. Jackie is a desperate woman willing to do desperate acts to protect her secrets. She had nowhere to turn to, no one to help her. There was no one there to dry her colored tears.
Barbara shared her perspective on writing.
What is the first book that made you cry?
The first book that made me cry was Maya Angelou’s I know why the caged bird sings. I read it in high school, and it amazed me that this book was in my high school library. The subject matter had so many taboos; racial bigotry, rape, mental and physical abuse, prostitution and so on. I had never read about some of the issues it touched upon. I cried because I felt for the young girl who didn’t get a chance to have a happy childhood or young adulthood. Being a southern girl myself, I understood a lot of the references to the south, so it made me identify a lot with her. I understood how she felt about herself. Growing into your own skin and not liking what it showed is hard to understand and overcome no matter the age, but to do it and then write about it takes huge courage.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
When I first started writing I wrote for an internet company that paid me to write articles for different websites. I would see the articles out there under someone else’s name and that didn’t feel right to me. Not only did I get no credit for the writing, but someone else got the praise. Ever since then I promised myself that when an article or book was published it would have my name, not a pen name, and certainly not someone else’s. Hit or miss, it would be me, my name would be the “author.”
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I must give a lot of credit to my editor, who is also a writer. Candice L. Davis is an author, editor and coach. She is the first person in publishing who told me I was a good writer. She helped me to extend myself outward and to look at my characters in a slightly different perspective. She also helped me to take a chance and leave that comfort zone behind.
Another writer/coach is Kim Coles who I am working with on an anthology. I met her first at one of her seminars titled “Love your story.” She helped me to realize that I had a story to tell and how to go about telling it. These two ladies have had a big influence in not only my writing style but also in me as a person. Learning how to take chances and put it out there was a major game-changer for me.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
In my first novel, The color of your tears, I have a lot of interaction between the main character Jackie and the men in her life. I write from her perspective quite easily. The men are a horse of a different color. I tell people that my characters tell me what they want to be known about them. Jackie holds nothing back, but the men tend to use shorter sentences and don’t really share their true feelings. I would ask my husband did it sound right what the male characters were saying or how they were saying it. His reply was always, “yeah.” So, I went with that.
How do you select the names of your characters?
The characters themselves share a part of themselves with me. As I am thinking about what they are trying to convey, I also think about what name sounds like them. It’s hard to explain but it’s more of a feeling than just picking a name out of the air. I think everyone has an idea about what a person named Trixie, for example, looks like. It’s almost stereotypical but not quite. I try to fit the name to the person’s character and their ideals.