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Monday, January 10, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Barbara Binns

Today, my guest author is fellow Unsinkable, 2010 Golden Heart® finalist, Barbara Binns. Welcome to my blog!

Tell us, who is B.A.Binns?
B. A. Binns, that's the name I use for my YA novels, although my plans are to distinguish my adult novels (when I finally launch them) by using my given name. Since I'm concentrating on one genre at a time, B. A. works for now.

From what part of America do you hail?
I'm a Chicago area girl, born and raised. I went away to college at UW Madison and Michigan State in E. Lansing, then lived and for a brief time in Virginia and Washington D. C. before returning.  Of course, every year this time I wonder why I'm not in Florida or southern California.

How many years have you been a member of the Romance Writers of America®?
I joined RWA in 2007. And now I'm a member of several chapters, including Chicago North, WisRWA, YA RWA, The Golden Network and Rose City Romance Writers.  I am also pleased to be part of the Unsinkables, the 2010 Golden Heart® finalists.  (As you can tell, I'm a joiner)

What genre/s do you write?
YA Romance and Romantic Suspense.

Who are your favorite authors?
The problem with a question like this is I inevitably miss someone I absolutely adore. Lisa Kleypas, Sharon Draper, Tanita Davis, Simone Elkeles, Anne Golon, and the list goes on.

What inspired you to write romance?
I liked reading romance, and stories about people falling in love kept going through my head. There was this one about a former prostitute and a killer that wouldn't leave me, and while I know that's not the usual romance couple I couldn't shake them so I ended up writing them. That became my 2010 Golden Heart® finalist novel, and whether it ever finds a place on the bookshelves or not, I know it's one of the best things I've ever written.

I got into writing YA because I began reading YA, and the stories are compelling, vibrant, risk-taking, and keep pulling me back. Today's YA is so much more than what it was when I was young, and publishers are willing to take risks with subjects that are edgy, different and sometimes pretty much verboten in adult books. I write YA because the edginess appeals to me, and I have the opportunity to hear from young readers about how my words reflect and sometimes impact their lives. I love those emails.

I guess I write romance and YA for the same reasons I read them, they give hope. And youth is both a stressful time and the time in life when people feel the most passion about things. All that makes for enjoyable writing.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book, PULL, and its characters?
PULL is a YA romance between two high school students, David and Yolanda. Each has suffered loss and each has developed the kind of strength the other one needs. It’s also a coming of age story where both of them have to make choices that will forever alter their futures.

In the beginning David believes his only goal is to fulfill his dead mother’s last wishes because he feels guilty about not saving her life.  But there’s a deeper truth he hides even from himself--the fear that he is just like his father, the man who murdered the woman he supposedly loved. The stresses that descend on David as he struggles to protect his sisters and deal with his guilt only increases a natural feeling of resentment that leaves him fearing he should abandon his sisters to protect them from himself.

Everything is seen and experienced from David’s point of view and I hope male readers will see something of themselves in him. I hope girls will see the potential in him and in the young men in their lives and see Yolanda as a role model whenever they start feeling they are nothing without a guy.

One last PS - In English classes I used to hate when teachers talked about THEME. Now I realize I have a deep theme of my own. I write about relationships and people being more than just the sum of their parts.  PULL's t heme is our relationship with our parents, and whether we owe them a debt that includes giving up our own dreams for them.

You can check out Barbara's trailer for PULL here.
And here's the blurb:
Seventeen-year-old David can’t escape from a past that includes his mother’s murder at the hands of his father. When he departs the elite Grogan Hills Academy and enters a new school on Chicago’s south side, he’s prepared to give up sports, friends, and his desire for independence to care for his orphaned sisters.

His quest for anonymity is shattered when he’s obliged to rescue one sister from an attack by members of the school’s elite pack led by Yolanda, “The Dare,” the acknowledged school slut. David is prepared for the school psychologist’s attempt to force him out of the shell he’s drawn around himself. But he’s not prepared for the way guilt makes him lash out at the people he loves, forcing him to confront the fear that he’ll follow in his father’s destructive footsteps. Nor is he prepared for his growing attraction to Yolanda, a girl hiding a secret shame more destructive than his own. 

Do you have a dream agent and/or dream publisher?
My dream agent happens to be MY agent, Andrea Somberg from the Harvey Klinger, Inc. agency. Not just because she loved PULL, and I don't use the word love lightly, but because of the way she worked overtime to find my publisher, WestSide Books, all in a matter of months from the time she first read the manuscript. You can't beat that enthusiasm. And she gives great career advice too.

Dream publisher, again, right now I have to go with my publisher. How could WestSide not be my dream when they believe enough to put my guy's face on the cover of the hardback book they worked overtime to get published in under a year?  I do not write aiming at a specific publishing house. I wrote my story and then went out looking for people who shared that love and were willing to publish my vision. Not that WestSide Books didn't edit things carefully, and I spent many nights working on their changes, but they loved the overall vision.  I won't think about the so-called dream publisher until after my books are finished because I write the books of my heart. Hopefully I'll be able to stay with people who are of like minds.

What's the best thing about going to conference?
All the different people I get to meet. My first conference I tried to attend every possible session and just wore myself out. Now I go for the purpose of meeting people. Anything else is gravy.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
that I know how to pull a story apart and revise and edit it nearly to death before resurrecting a phoenix that's all the better for that near-death experience. I'm really not a great writer, my first drafts make me cringe. But I'm a darn good fixer, so once my page is no longer blank I roll up my sleeves and figure out how to fix those darn scenes, make the pace zing and whip the characters into shape.
A sexy hero needs...to really care about other people. Not just the woman he's falling for, but other people as well, and be willing to reach outside his comfort zone to help them. That's how the heroine knows he will always be there for her. My hero in PULL even tries to help people he doesn't like.  And, as one of PULL's reader said, "you can tell a guy's a keeper by the way he treats his mother and sisters." That's as important a part of being a hero as a six-pack (which he has) and good looks (which he also has in abundance). I made my David to be a keeper, and frankly, I'm jealous of his girlfriend.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...this really sexy con-man (ex con man, he wants to go straight in spite of the urges he still feels when he sees an easy mark), and a very brash high school psychologist who can't believe she's even attracted to a guy like him when the wealthy scion of a business magnate - and her brother's business partner - wants to marry her. Then her brother's secretary turns up dead and all signs point to our con man. But she can't make herself believe he's guilty, not even when someone begins stalking her.
When I write I like to...relax in bed and let the thoughts flow. I'm a late-night writer, so a good cup of hot chocolate and good music is what I need to get words pumping.
My best writing milestone to date is...having one of my novels final in the 2010 Golden Heart® contest.  Really it was gathering up the guts to send my manuscript into the Golden Heart® last year. That was a huge act for me, because I didn't believe anyone but its mother would ever love it.

For anyone wanting to know more about Barbara, she'd love to hear from you. You can find her contact details on her website, her Facebook page, and you can follow her on Twitter (barbarabinns).

Barbara, thank you so much for visiting today. It's been a pleasure having you here!


  1. Great interview B.A and Kylie.

    B.A congratulations on your release and that you found your dream agent and publisher. PULL sounds like a fascinating read. Also well done for entering the Golden Heart and congrats on being a finalist in 2010!

  2. Hi Kylie and B.A.
    I second Eleni's comment - it's a great interview!

    Congratulations, B.A. - you and Kylie have both had an amazing year. PULL sounds like a terrific story with some very complex issues - it should appeal to a wide readership so I hope it flies off the shelf for you!

    Being a good "fixer" is an excellent strength to have, B.A!

  3. Thanks for dropping by Eleni and Sharon. It's great to have such a variety of authors visiting the blog this year.

    YA, category, paranormal, historical, UF/SF/F, erotic romance etc. - something for everyone.

  4. Hi Kyle and B.A.,

    What a wonderful interview. The questions were thoughtful and the answers were thought provoking.

    It's nice to learn more about you, B.A. Pull sounds like a wonderful story for young adults.

    I'm a fixer,too B.A.

  5. Hey, Sandy, thanks for dropping in and saying hi! :-)