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Interview with Barbara McMahon, author of Come Into the Sun

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Tell us about Come Into The Sun

Come Into The Sun is one of my tropical escape books.  It’s set in the Caribbean, mostly on a sloop, but there are some island stops as well.  It’s a bit more challenging to have a limited cast of characters, but while on the sloop, it’s only Lexy and Dominic. 

The story begins when she’s looking for work to get out of a situation that has gotten sticky and answers an ad Dominic posted for help on his boat.  She has lots of experience, but he’s not looking for a woman crewman.  Still, when several days pass and no one else applies, he has little choice if he wants to get underway.  But he insists it’s only temporary.

What they didn’t expect is the attraction that springs up—which both resist. 

I’ve spent time in the Caribbean and tried to capture the feeling of the area, the warm water, beautiful weather, exotic islands, laid back lifestyle.  I also hope I captured the feeling of falling in love when neither wants it or expects it.

So if readers like love stories, warm tropical settings and happy ending, I hope they’ll give Come Into The Sun a try.

So it’s a romance novel?
Definitely contemporary romance.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
I believe it’ll appeal to readers who like a good story, sensual awareness but without overt love scenes.

It’s interesting you say that. Have you never been tempted by the various trends that have arisen over the years, such as the Fifty Shades-inspired erotica trend or the fashion for vampire romance?
No.  I would be uncomfortable in some of those trends, as I don’t usually read them. However I read a series earlier this year with vampires, werewolves, witches and loved it.  But that was as a reader.  It’s not what I’d write.  If I tried something different, I think it would be a mystery.  I do love mysteries.

You have sold millions of books; what’s the number at now? Is the number so large that it has become meaningless, or do you keep a close eye on it?
Last count was at 16.2 million copies sold worldwide.  It’s almost unbelievable to me since it is such a large number.  I chose to track copies sold since I was never sure what was considered “in print” and what wasn’t, but amounts sold are definite, so I began tracking them about ten years ago and am totally surprised by how many books have sold.  On the other hand, I have been at this 30 years, so  guess I’m selling well enough to keep publishers interested and readers coming back.

And for those few readers out there who haven’t read any of your books, which one would you advise them to start with and why?
That depends.  Great answer, huh?  I’m very proud of my inspirational books, and hope all readers who like family oriented stories would find them entertaining.  On the other hand, cowboys are my favorite heros.  Maybe start with One Stubborn Cowboy.  It’s about a crippled, bitter cowboy who meets his match with a most unexpected children’s book author.  She sees beyond the handicap to the real man—and helps him see he’s still the man he used to be who just can’t walk. 

Rocky Point Promise is another favorite of mine.  A man lost his wife and was devastated, he can’t imagine ransoming his heart to a deep relationship again.  Until he meets a woman who brings the same kind of risk, yet he falls so hard he’s willing to take that risk.

What would you say are the defining characteristics of a Barbara McMahon novel? Are there any traits common to all your books?
Most of the books are warm and family-oriented—even when it’s just a hero and heroine, there’s a warmth to the relationship, and the feeling they will make a great family.  I like down home kind of books, whether set in a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains, or London or San Francisco—two of my favorite cities.  I hope the stories have an international appeal since we all share desires for love, family and peace.

After years of writing for Harlequin and the likes, you now self-publish your novels. Does it feel like a different career?
In a way. And I’m loving it.  I’m still writing the books I love, but now feel I have more control over what I want to write and am not second guessing what my editor will say when I turn in a manuscript.  That gives me a wonderful feeling of freedom I’ve missed in recent years.  So I like that part. 

Another aspect I like is I can set my schedule to suit me.  If I finish a manuscript, get it ready for publication, it’s up.  I don’t have to wait a year or longer from finishing to publication.  Another feature—the book will be available in print or e-version as long as the booksellers are around.  No short shelf life and then fade away.

On the other hand, I have to do all the publishing work, which cuts into my writing time.  I’m trying to delegate some of the ancillary work—like having an assistant to help with uploading books to the various e-platforms and distributing my newsletter.  But after writing, the manuscript has to be edited—that’s only fair to the reader and to me—and then proofread a couple of times.  Even then I bet we’ve all missed a few things.  I’m still feeling my way in this new venture and it’s exciting, scary, and time consuming.

The one thing I wish I could change and will be looking into in the future, is translations.  I’m used to having my books in fifty or more countries around the world—obviously very few of them are English language countries.  Translations are quite expensive however, so that next step is on a back burner for the time being.  But one day I’d love to translate into German, Italian and Spanish.  Those countries have always bought many copies of my books and I’d love that to continue.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
After I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, I flew for an international airline.  I loved that job, and ended up visiting countries from Japan and China, to Europe and South America.  My one one regret is I never got a flight to Australia.  I kept a journal during those days and have actually referred to it when setting books in locales I’ve visited.

Once I quit flying and started working in a software development firm, I felt the urge to write—mainly because I was reading books and thinking I could do something better.  I don’t know that mine are better, it’s hard work.  Something must have clicked however since I’ve been publishing books now for 30 years.   A few years after that first sale, I was able to quit my day job and write full time.  That’s when we moved to a rural county in California’s Sierra Nevada. 

It’s in the gold rush area of California.  My love of history had me joining the Historical Society, branching into forming the county’s genealogy group and being appointed to the Cemetery Board which oversees the historic cemeteries in the county.  I’m also a 30 plus year member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and work with others interested in joining by tracking down their family lineage.  Great fun and writing allows me time to do these other activities.

Have you got a website where readers can keep up with your work?
I have one now that’s being updated.  So if readers check it out soon, and then again in another week or two, they’ll see the before and after.  And they can write and let me know what they think of the new one.  I’m very excited about  the new design  and can’t wait for it to go live.  www.barbaramcmahon.com.

I’m also on Facebook:  AuthorBarbaraMcMahon, and twitter @authorbmcmahon.

Where can we buy Come Into The Sun?
That and the rest of my books can be bought on almost every on line site from Amazon ( US , UK ) to Barnes &Noble, to Apple, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Are.

What’s next?
I’m finishing up a book about a pilot and a flight attendant—sort of like the TV show Pan Am, only without all the intrigue.  The industry has changed dramatically since the days I flew.  I’ve had fun exploring all the differences the years have brought.

I’ve already begun work on the next in the Rocky Point Inspirational series, about a wounded soldier who seeks peace and quiet in Rocky Point. He just wants to be left along. That’s before Allie Duncan finds him and begins her save a soldier campaign.  Both books will be out in be out in the first few months of 2013.

Thanks a bunch for the interview.  I’m happy to answer reader questions if they contact me through my authorbarbaramcmahon@gmail.com address.

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Enjoyed this interview? Then check out our conversation with Barbara Freethy

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