Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Author Vanessa Barger

 I’m happy to have Vanessa Barger as my guest today. She also writes paranormal romance as Ellen Keener.

We’re gathering at my house for a celebration of her latest release Steaming, a young adult steampunk adventure.  I’m having a tea party with homemade cakes and pastries, in her honor.. My house is over one-hundred years old, and the front porch is where I set up the party. It’s the perfect setting to conduct an interview with an author who writes paranormal and steampunk.

Welcome Vanessa! I hope you like sweets.

I’m serving herbal teas in a variety of flavors. Let’s see there’s strawberry, apricot, lemon zest, peppermint, and orange-cinnamon. I also have black tea for anyone who prefers it. I stayed up late last night making mini cheesecakes, cream puffs, and brownies. The buffet is set up in the corner. I have a bottle of champagne for a toast. Here’s to the wonderful world of imagination.

Make yourself at home and enjoy!

Let the party begin!

1. Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes. I always wanted to write. When I was in kindergarten I won an essay contest and got to go with four other kids from my school to have lunch with Norman Bridwell (The guy who wrote Clifford). I thought that was the coolest thing EVER.

2. How do get your ideas for a story? Do you have to do a lot of research before you sit down to write?

I get my ideas from a lot of places. Overheard conversations, my students, people watching, dreams, cooking, you name it! Research… depends on the story. I am a dork, so I read and watch books on history, technology and etc for fun. So sometimes I’ve already done the research without realizing it. I do often look up details, esp if its technology based or something about a real place.

3. Who has inspired you the most in your life?

Probably my parents. They have always encouraged me, no matter how strange the idea or how out there it is.

4. Which part of the process of writing a novel is the most difficult for you? Is it the beginning, middle or end?

Probably the end. Most of the time, when I start writing I have a good idea of the events in the story and how I want it to go, but my ending always changes. Its always vague. (With only a few exceptions). That usually means my writing feels like I’ve run a race and about three feet away from the finish line a giant hole opens up, and I teeter there until I figure out how to make a bridge. Lol. Endings are always hardest and always the things I am least satisfied with.

5. How do you do to celebrate when you are finished with a story?

Usually I go watch a movie, maybe we go out to eat. Depends on when I finish and what I’ve finished. 

6. Does your family read your work? Friends?

I have an awesome group of critters, the YA Fiction Fanatics (YAFF) that read my work. Outside of them, my Grandmother usually reads it, and occasionally my mom or roommate. Mom and roommate don’t really read my style book on a regular basis, so they only read a few select stories.

7. What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

I love movies. They’re an addiction. I also cook when I’m stressed. (Which could be the reason my diet is failing.) Also like to take day trips to museums and things.

8. If you had to choose a character from one of your books, to spend a weekend with, who would it be? Why?

Hmmmmm…. Tough one. I think it would be Thomason. My own personal automaton! Other than that, I love Cornelius, but he’s a little young for me. Lol.

9. What time of the year do you do your best writing? And why?

It’s a toss up between Fall and Summer. Fall because I just get the itch to write. Summer because I’ve got time off, and it storms a lot, and thunderstorms also inspire me.

10. What is your latest book about? Is it released yet? Can you share an excerpt or blurb?

Steaming came out March 18, and here’s the blurb:

My name is Cornelius Latimer, and I have fallen in love. The object of my affection isn’t tall and blonde with all the right curves. It isn’t even human. My love belches smoke and breathes fire. My world runs on steam and hard metal, and I am a master of both. My Uncle, Rufus Harrison, has funded my expeditions. He’s gifted me with a lab containing all the parts and space I could possibly need. For weeks I have been toiling over my journals, crafting my biggest and best creation yet. It’s heady, this feeling of power. But I made a fatal error. I told a friend about my machine. And now someone who should not know, does. I should tear everything apart, but I can’t.

Love does strange things to people.


Clockwork earrings highlighted the graceful curve of her neck. Red satin swirled around a tiny figure wrapped in a black suede corset. Dark eyes swept the room with only a hint of apprehension. Thick jet hair winked with stones as the angel turned toward me.

I nearly swallowed my tongue.

“Cornelius Latimer! What the devil is wrong with you?” My best friend, Anthony DeSalvo, frowned and followed my gaze. “Bloody hell.”

“That didn’t come from Hell,” I whispered. Around the crowded, gas-lit ballroom, other men stopped mid-sentence and faced the angel gracing the entryway. I was not the only man enthralled. The world paused and the throbbing pulse of distant steam engines mimicked my heartbeat.

Anthony snorted and tossed back his punch. “A pretty face that will be forgotten in a week.” He studied me, one eyebrow cocked at my lack of attention. He hooted with laughter. “Finally, one of the sacrificial virgins has caught your eye!”

I elbowed him. “I don’t mock you about your conquests.”

He chortled, straightening his silk waistcoat. “That’s because I have so many. This, this, is a special occasion.”

He remained silent a few more moments. I assumed he watched as she moved through the crowd like Moses. I spared him a glance, noting the intense stare he sent in her direction. Unreasonable jealousy clouded my senses. Just when I opened my mouth to comment, he pulled a large coin from his waistcoat pocket.

“I’ll flip you for her.” His tone turned serious.

That got my full attention. A strange gleam lit Anthony’s eye, one I had never seen before. “What?”

“You heard me. Even if she is your first crush, every man out there will be after her. At least if we’re both pursuing her, we’ll double our collective chances. But when we catch her, who will keep her?”

11. Where can we find you these days?

12. I’m always around my blog, http://vanessabargerwrites.wordpress.com/ and I’m also on my FB fan page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vanessa-Barger-Fan-Page/169674883067474 And on twitter at

It was a pleasure to have you as a guest, Vanessa. Thank you for an interesting interview. It's great to get to know you better.  Congrats on your release!

Thanks so much for having me!!!!!



Deena said...

Vanessa, I do believe you got me hooked on steampunk! Your story sounds intriguing, and I honestly wanted to read waaaay beyond your excerpt. :D

Kim Bowman Author said...

Congrats, Vanessa! I LOVE this cover. Very cool. I'm with Deena. You have me hooked on steampunk:)

Felicia said...

Congrats! Great interview. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Seems like you write like I do. I.e., sort of aim towards an amorphous kind of ending, letting it evolve as it goes. Endings are my weak spot, too.


Elaine Cantrell said...

Great interview, but what exactly is steampunk?

Seleste said...

Love steampunk :) Can't wait to read this one (loading my copy this weekend on my ereader).

I tend to slow down when I get to my endings, not because I don't know what's going to happen, but because I subconsciously don't want the ride to end (and the "work" part to begin LOL)

Kathleen Ann Gallagher's Place to Reflect said...

I'm so happy to have you as a guest today, Vanessa. I'm intrigued by your story. It sounds fascinating!

Vanessa said...

THanks for the love ladies!

Elaine - Steampunk is (short version) an alternate reality where the combustion engine never "catches on" or isn't invented, so everything runs on steam, and has a very Victorian aesthetic. :)

Maureen said...

Vanessa - One of the best defintions of steampunk I ever heard was at SteamConII... Neo-Victorian Retro Future.

I swear, just saying it makes me giggle! ;-)