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Between the Lines
Between the Lines

Episode · 11 months ago

03 The Lives & Storiesof Mandy Eve Barnett

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

An in depth conversation with Edmonton's Mandy Eve Barnett about her blossoming writing career.

Hi and welcome to Between the Lines. On this show you will hear about and from lesser known, Canadian authors and writers who, for whatever reason have remained under the radar of traditional publishers and publishing houses. If it has something to do with writing or the writing process, You are going to hear a discussion about it here. I'm, your host Randy Lacey and I encourage you to grab your bevy of choice, get cumfy, and get ready to go between the lines. Hello and welcome back to another episode of Between the lines, on this episode. I will be in discussion with Mandy Eve Barnett about her blossoming writing career. Mandy currently calls Edmonton, Alberta, home. hello, Mandy and welcome to Between the Lines. Mandy: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure. Randy: Now, before we go any deeper into your writing journey I'll ask Mandy to take a few moments, you know give a brief summary of who she is, what she likes to do, any hobbies she may have, and so on. Mandy, I'll yield the microphone to you. Mandy: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm a multi-genre author and I write for children, young adult, and adult. I'm the secretary of my local writer's group, which is the Writer's Foundation of Strathcona County and also the secretary of the Alberta Author's cooperative. I have a successful freelance writing business. I'm a prolific blogger, and a writing community advocate. Apart from writing, which is an obsession, I like walking my dog. I've got a little rescue dog. Randy: Oh, you have a rescue dog. What kind? Mandy: She's what you call a schnoodle, which is a poodle and a schnauzer mix, very cute. Randy: I'll take your word for it. Randy: Wonderful. That's a lot of things you've got your hands into. Mandy: It keeps me out of mischief supposedly. I think it puts me into mischief, but there you are. Randy: I like that little addendum there, supposedly. Well, thanks for the introduction of yourself. Now we're going to break into what I call the hard stuff. Mandy: Okay. Randy: So, basically, do you recall the first time you were inspired to write outside of an educational setting? Mandy: Actually, I didn't start writing per se, I mean, obviously at school we have to write, but I didn't get into writing until I emigrated into Canada and although I've been creative in other aspects, 34 00:02:51.840 --> 00:02:54.600and I happened to come across a writing group that was going to meet on a Tuesday evening. So, I thought I'd go in, see what they were all about, and I got hooked...

...really quickly. They were very supportive, very encouraging and I wouldn't be writing without them, to be honest. Randy: So, you immigrated to Canada. How long have you been in Canada? Mandy: Nearly twelve years now. Randy: Welcome to Canada. A little late, but welcome. Can you remember what you wrote the first time you tried writing? Mandy: Yeah, the first time, it was actually a seven-minute exercise that I found on the Internet, and it was just three words: You had to incorporate; fire, clock, and certainty, so, I thought okay, I'll have a go, see if I can write anything- and that was the first thing I read to my writing group. I was very nervous, obviously, and I read it and the room went quiet. I went okay, I will never come back here again. And then they all started going, that was really good, and like expressing how, yeah I'm thinking, okay, that's what hooked me. The reaction was what hooked me. I'm thinking, I can use words to elicit some sort of emotional or reaction or surprise, and that started me on this writing career. Randy: So, clearly you had a sense that their reaction was sincere then. Mandy: Oh, definitely. They weren't sort of, you know, blowing smoke basically. Randy: Well, I don't know about your friends or your colleagues or whatever, but a lot of the people that I share my writing with they want to, they want to build me up, even if it's not true. So as long as you know they're sincere, that's even more important. Mandy: I mean I like the group because you get constructive critique. They don't say oh that's great and then leave it at that. You know they just said well, I chose a word here, or if you change that, your point of view will, so, it really helps grow your writing and your skill. Randy: You're fairly new to the Canadian Creative Writers group, but every month, well, Australian writers, they have what' s called Furious Fiction, where they give you, have you seen that yet. Mandy: No. Randy: Every month they have a contest, five hundred words in fifty-five hours and they give you the parameters. So, it has to start with this, or, I mean they give you your parameters and usually there's four or five words you have to use within that five hundred words. And for me it's practice because short stories are new for me. I've been a poet guy most of my life. There's a lot of people within Canadian Creative Writers that have taken to doing this particular contest just because of the parameters. Because, again you got your time restriction of fifty five hours. You' ve got a word restriction of no more than five hundred words and you have to use these, and so it's good practice, and it's good discipline. I think. Mandy: Yes, I mean that's what I enjoy. I mean I...

...did an awful lot of prompts while I was learning because it's sort of, you've got a time limit, you've got word limit and you know sometimes, as you say, length limit, and that helps you, you know not get too flowery with your wording. Okay, I have to be quite concise here. Randy: As I was saying earlier, no opportunity for a rabbit hole. Mandy: Exactly. Randy: Although rabbit holes are fun. I guess the next question I'm going to have to ask you then is: Are you one of those writers who kept everything to yourself or were you one of those writers who here, read this, read this. Mandy: Within my writing group I did that, because I always got such good feedback and it helped me develop my skill, so it was vital for me to share. Randy: So, that's a good thing for anybody who wants to be able to be a successful writer, I guess is to be able to share. I know for me it was more like a personal rehab that I wrote to heal my soul, and I left my notebook out one day and a friend read it and says: Why aren't you sharing this and now you can't shut me up. Mandy: That' s a good thing though, I mean, your words should be shared. Randy: I think so because, and I've adopted the personal motto now that I don't write because I necessarily have something to say, but rather because you may have something you need to hear. If you don't share it, they're not going to hear it. Mandy: That's really good. Very true. Randy: Where do you find your inspiration to write? Mandy: Oh my goodness, absolutely everywhere. I've found ideas in dreams, obviously writing prompts, because I love them, travelling, everyday conversations I've overheard, or when I've been interactive In the conversation. I think, if you are a writer anything can inspire you. I mean it can be, you know, a strange object in someone's garden or you go traveling and you find a little town and you think oh no that store, that sort of obviously was very popular in its hey day is now sort of tired and left alone and boarded up. So then you think well, I could write about the store and this interaction with people, and how it just declined. So there's always something around you that you can use. I mean I know I had an altercation, conversation once and it was about a woman's place. Don't get me started. Anyway, so from that genesis of that conversation, I wrote a book about a young man growing up in a matriarchal society, so just flipping it wherever...

...you are whatever you're doing. I mean, there's ideas and even if you look at someone's novel and while reading and something clicks with you, and you just think, I like that sentence or I like that description and you can throw things in with that and go from there. Randy: That makes sense. Is there a certain time of day where you find yourself more productive, and if so, why do you suppose that is? Mandy: I don't have a set time when I'm productive per se. I write when I'm inspired, because I mean I work full time so I' ll have to joggle things to to get my writing time in and of course you know, I have my two secretarial volunteer positions so that takes up some time as well, but my favorite time, my friend and I go on regular writing retreats, and we pick a spot somewhere in Alberta, drive there and spend the weekend just you know, absorbed in our ideas or novels or words, and that is really sort of where I get most of my writing done. Randy: For myself, I get these bursts and then I write till there's nothing left to write whether it's finished or not, and if it's not finished, I stop, because I don't try to force it because it will come across as being contrived after a point, so I'll 125 00:10:39.899 --> 00:10:43.919walk away and I'll leaveit and then revisit it and if I'm inspired to continue it I will. There's no set time. And I find that some of the people that I've talked to say, I can only write in the early morning. I can only write late at night. Mandy: Oh goodness. Randy: I would hate to try and put a, I have to write in this time and no other time. Mandy: No, it's when you can, just do it when you can, and I mean it's like you have, you know it's like when I was on a writing retreat and they had a prompt and it was a title. Just a random picked title, and from that I wrote a story, it's got eight thousand words, and then for one reason or another, the anthology I submitted to didn't go. So then I was stuck in the story and what am I going to do with it and then all of a sudden like I don't know, like four months. I looked back at it and one character that was sort of you know a bypass really. She just decided that she wanted me to write her story and then that developed into a full scale novel and it included the short...

...story in part, but it grew around this other character. So then that became my steampunk novel, The Commodore' s Gift. Randy: This wasn't one of the questions I was going to ask you, but I don't think it'll be a hard one for you to answer. Do you have a favorite character that you've created and why? Mandy: It's always the last one I've done. I love Owena in The Commodore' s Gift because she's very feisty, very strong willed, you know, she shows that you know she's a force to be reckoned with. I like strong characters like that. Randy: And we'll touch on that in a little bit as well. There was a show on MTV which asked musicians which song they wished they had written with that being said, finish the following sentence. I wish I had written... explain why. Mandy: it's a book called Ferney by James Long and I love it, and I reread it quite regularly. It's based on two characters who are reincarnated and reincarnation has been a fascination for me for decades. I've researched it and read thousands of books etc, but the book itself, the characters are so well fleshed out and so believable I just enjoy it every single time I read it. Yeah you know when you get one of those books you just think this is the perfect book. Randy: You say that you research reincarnation forever, which past life do you think that you began in? Mandy: Yeah, well, I was regressed years ago and I actually had seven doors I could go through and we only had time for three, which was a shame, but there you are, so that sort of cemented my belief in it in, there is something else. There is somewhere, you know, you do come back to learn another lesson or teach another lesson. Randy: I guess every belief system has something similar to that. Mandy: I think so. Randy: This is one that I've asked everybody so far. What is your writing goal? Is there a specific goal you have in mind for your writing or as you write? Mandy: I think, I suppose it is a goal but I'd like to leave my stories as my legacy. That's what I think is why I write, because you know my stories would be shared when I' m not here anymore. You know, so it's something that will go forward in time after me. Randy: So it's not a, I write because I want to make lots of money or I want to get famous, ...

...it's just what you can leave behind for people to better themselves. Mandy: Yeah, I mean the thing is, it's the joy of someone reading your book and contacting you and saying I really enjoyed that. I love this. I love that. That's more of a more of an excitement, it's more what I love than yeah, okay, I sold so many books, okay, but it's actually having reader feedback and knowing that the stories touche somebody. Randy: So I am assuming then, that you've had people reach out to you and talk to you about the impact that what you've written has left on them. Mandy: Oh yea, I love it because I either get something on social media, or as a message or they'll email me through the blog or whatever, and I get people that you know they've gone to the local library, they've picked up a book and they'll contact me and say have you got any more said. Well, yes I do. You know, so it's a real high. Randy: Do you get the other side of it as well, you know people who are absolutely negative about what you've written? Mandy: Touch wood, not yet. I had one lady who; my very, very first book, which was just a kiddy's picture book about a little monster going out on a scare on Halloween, and she said: Oh you called them one thing and then you changed it. And I said well, that's only because he learned what they were called, so his mom said they were earth children, but then when he got to see what they were, he said, oh so they're children. You know. So I'm thinking. Okay, if that's what you got from the book, you know, fine. It's thirty-two pages long. It's for kiddies and they all love Rumble. So that's fine with me. Randy: So it wasn't writer error, it was a reader misunderstanding. Mandy: Well, she was an adult. Randy: Yeah, but it was still a reader misunderstanding. Mandy: Yeah. So. There you are. Randy: Part three. We're going to go into the material world, which is where we're going to talk about some of the things that you've written and what's out there, and so the first thing that I was given as a promo for you was The Commodore's Gift. Is that correct? Mandy: Yeah. This is the steampunk one with my very feisty lady called Owena. So steampunk is sort of Victoriana merged with industrial revolution, so you have machines, you have steam power, you have mechanical vehicles, and you have also Victorian etiquette. So it sort of clashes a bit and that'ss why Owena clashes, because in...

...modern terms, you'd call her a tomboy and she doesn't want to wear these long flowing gowns with a corset. You know have long gloves on and be genteel and drink tea. What she wants to do is go sword fighting and go horse riding, but not sidesaddle, and I mean she, she makes inroads with her brother when they have to escape from an attack by the ruling forces and she really quickly understands that she can be a force to be reckoned with and she can show these men that she can do what she says she can do. She's very strategic. She can do planning. She's very good with a sword. Yeah, so I mean it's not a swashbuckling sort of novel, but it's more an adventure, but with a strong, feisty woman at the helm. Randy: Living in Alberta, I've encountered several women who own and use guns and they scare me. A woman with a sword would even be... Mandy: Even more, yeah. Randy: Because they can get right up and personal with you. Was the character of Owena a challenge for you to write or create? Mandy: She didn't challenge me really because she just told me what I was writing. I didn't you know. I just went with the flow with her. I mean, I am quite feisty, so it wasn't quite a difficult thing for me to do because I'm, you know, quite independent and you know say things as they are so and she was fun to write because you know she, she sort of butt heads with a man that thinks, you know, she's a mere woman. So she's shown actually she's not a mere woman, and so it was fun to write. Randy: Yeah. There's a lot of experts, I guess quote unquote experts, saying when they talk about characters, they say let your character lead the way and don't try and force your character to be who you want them to be. Let them sort themselves out. That would have been a case right there right? Mandy: Oh exactly, I mean she took the lead on it, because initially the short story was about someone completely different. It was a man, you know, so the short story became a small part in the novel because Owena took over. Randy: Which leads me into the next question. What or who inspired her creation? Is there a little bit of you in there or is there somebody else...

...in there or... Mandy: there's some of me but it's more, I've been around strong women a lot of my life and they've found ways of you know forging ahead in their careers, finding their own personal space and making it their own. So it was a combination of a few people. Randy: Is she an extension of you or is there something within her character you desire in yourself? Mandy: Oh, I'd love to be swashbuckling with them. Go out on with a sword and get the baddies. Yeah, I'd love that. Randy: I'd hate to meet you in a dark alley. Sorry about that. Mandy: That's okay. Randy: We'll move on. Mandy: It's funny because I went with my daughter to an event. It was an outside event way before Covid and unbeknownst to me, this gentleman, who was on security, walked up to her and said, you can' t come in. And, alright, mom mode kicked in like there was no tomorrow and I went face to face with him. I said, excuse me, she is coming in, she's with me. And my daughter got hold of my arm. She said Mum, I know him, he's joking. I go, okay, then. And he turned to her and said, I'm not coming up against your mom ever again. Yeah, I'm one of those sort of, you know, I'm going to war. If you yeah upset me or go near my kids, Randy: Mother bear. Mandy: Yeah, absolutely. Randy: So in The Commodore's Gift, there's a male character in there that Owena becomes involved with so to speak. Now, is he a, because she is such a strong character, is he equally strong, or is he a weaker character? Mandy: He is strong. He is a mountain of a man, which is the first thing that attracts her, but he has been almost mercenary in his fighting, which is one of the things that her brother's trying to stop her getting involved because of his, you know, how he was fighting, and yeah, so she sort of goes head over, thinking, Oh my God, this man is going to be the perfect match for me, and he in turn sees that you know she's a very unusual woman. She's not going to sit back, and you know say well I'll stay at home while you do what you're doing and they...

...are a good match, they bounce off each other. They know how to fight together. So they have a really good partnership of equal standing. Although he's a huge man and, of course, he can overcome more people in a fight, they are a good match. Randy: There's only three ways that could really go. They will either recognize the chemistry between them or they'll be totally oblivious to it and not get that they are right for each other or it's going to work out. Mandy: It does work out, although you know the brother sort of tries to keep them apart for quite some time. He's got lots of reservations. Randy: And, that probably comes back to personal... anyway. There' s another book there. Mandy: The Twosome Loop? Don't worry, people find it very difficult because Twesome is spelt T- W- E- S- O- M- E. They always want to put an O instead of where the E is in the middle. That's Twesome Loop. Randy: Loop? Mandy: Yes, my because, as I said before, I really love reincarnation. I wanted to wite my own reincarnation story, because Ferney is so brilliant, but I went in a different route entirely, so I've got four people that have issues with each other in the 1800's reincarnate into the two thousands, and then the people in the modern era of two thousand start getting flashbacks when they all coincide by chance at an Italian villa, which is where the original four were before events happened. I hope that makes sense. Randy: I see great potential for confusion. Mandy: You should have seen me when I was writing it, oh my goodness, because I had four people, so I had to make sure that their characters, their base characters were alike for both eras. So then you've got you know, a basic character who you know is in a forced wedding. Her father's decided that she should marry this very rich man, because that gets him up in society and it doesn' t matter what happens to her entirely. So then that character in the year two thousand is a spinster. She's looked after her parents for a long time and she loved to be you know in a relationship, but it's never happened and then a gentlemen starts courting her. But there's what we would say is a hidden agenda for him. So then,...

...when I've written it all, I have to print it out and then each chapter I have to make sure it coincided. So, if one character in the past was doing something it had to reflect in the modern chapter. So it took some work, but it was fun doing. Randy: When I was reading the blurb for it, here's the question that I came up with. In my stories. I have a hard enough time keeping trying to keep track of two characters, two main characters. And you've got a whole bunch. How does that work for you? Mandy: I suppose it's, when you, when you get into a story and you've got absolutely a visual of a character. You understand them. So it's like you know. If you go to a party with friends, you know who everyone is. You know their name, where they are, where they work, all that sort of thing. It's the same thing when you've got characters in a book, they just become real to you. So then you know I can say Joe did this you know, and so you can just keep them separate because they are separate people. Randy: Would it be safe to assume then, and this isn't one of the questions, but it is now. Would it be safe to assume then that before you actually write anything, you flesh your characters out or do you flush them out as the story goes. Mandy: No. They become real as I write them. Randy: And you can still keep track of them. Mandy: Yeah. Randy: All the power to you. Mandy: Thank you. I mean, I suppose it's one of those things that you know either you plan and plot to the NTH degree or you're the complete opposite end and just go with it. Because I mean, of course, after you've written it you've got lots of drafts to get through and lots of editing to do. So, then if you find something, then okay, that's not going to work or I should have forgotten that, and you know I should put that in there instead. 327 00:29:22.769 --> 00:29:27.990is a trilogy. I've never done a trilogy before. That one I had to plan because it's across three cities, three detectives and one villain. Randy: So you knew before you even started writing, it was going to be a trilogy. Mandy: Yeah. It popped into my head. Randy: For those of you who can't see what I'm doing right now, I' m shaking my head in disbelief. And Mandy is laughing at me. Mandy: Well,...

I mean everyone's different. Everyone has their own way of expressing, creating and there's no right or wrong. If it works for you, it works for you and just don't change it. Randy: Absolutely. Why did you set the story in this era? Do you not think it would have worked totally in one or the other? Mandy: What, for theTwesome Loop? Randy: Yeah. Mandy: Well, because it was a reincarnation. I needed the two. Randy: You could've went back further in time or you could have went ahead in time. Did I just give another idea? Mandy: No, no. I think I chose the 1800s because I wanted it to be believable that a man could force his daughter into a marriage of convenience. If I tried to do that in modern society as they're not of you know, Asian descent, no one would believe it. No one would think that would work. So I wanted it to be believable that that would happen, Randy: And you made it work. Sorry, I'm shaking my head again. Some people believe love always wins out in the end. Is this the takeaway from this book? Mandy: The Twesome Loop, yeah. I mean, two of the main characters. The reason it's called The Twosome Loop is why they reincarnated, but I don't want to give too much away, obviously, but that's the reason that they were able to reincarnate. Randy: If you want to know more, folks, go buy the book. Mandy: Thank you. Randy: Mandy, you can be found in a multitude of ways and and places for that matter. Can you let the listeners in on where and how you can be found, or your work can be found? Mandy: I have a blog, which is www.mandyevebarnett.com. It's very easy to remember. I post twice a week. I've got all my books on there listed. I've got reviews, etc. media page, contact page. So you'll find everything on there and links to everything. Randy: Are you on Twitter. Mandy: I'm on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest. And most of it is all Mandy Eve Barnett. You'll find me. All the links are on the blog. You can find me. Randy: There will be a transcript of this posted as well...

...with these links, and if you need other links, they will be on her other links that are not on the transcript. Mandy, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It's been a lot of fun. Mandy: Thank you, I've enjoyed it. Randy: I never know what to expect when I'm interviewing somebody. So far, it's been a pleasure and and hopefully it's been a pleasure for you, but thank you for agreeing to do this and thank your publicist for pointing you out to me. Mandy: Thank you very much. Randy: Thank you. Mandy: I really enjoyed it. Randy: And so until next time, folks, keep writing, and you have been listening to Between the Lines with Randy Lacey. In future episodes I will be talking with authors and writers from across the country about all things writing. So, if you like what you heard I encourage you to tune into some future episodes of Between the Lines.

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