Barbara Ankrum, a writer who brings that special HEA!

July 2, 2018 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as with 1 and 0
Home > Columns > Jann says . . . > Barbara Ankrum, a writer who brings that special HEA!

 

 

Barbara Ankrum has a thing for the West and has written both historical and contemporary romances, all set in that magical place. Twice nominated for RWA’s RITA Award, her bestselling books are emotional, sexy rides with a touch of humor. Barbara’s married and raised two children in Southern California, which, in her mind, makes her a native Westerner.


Jann: We’re chatting today with the delightful Barbara Ankrum. With over 20 published novels, twice nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA, her novels continue to bring us her special HEA we romance readers love.

Barbara: First, I’d like to thank Jann Ryan and A Slice of Orange for having me. OCC is near and dear to my heart and my original RWA home for many years. I love being part of it again with this interview.

 

Jann: How did you select the location for the Band of Brothers series? Will the remaining three books take place in Marietta, Montana?

A Cowboy to RememberBarbara: I began writing for Tule Publishing back in 2014 when the small, fictional town of Marietta, Montana became the setting for the Montana Born Books. Many authors write books set in that town, but all authors’ series are stand alone, even though they share the setting and a few characters now and then.

My first Tule book was a rodeo book set there, called A Cowboy to Remember. Out of that, sprang a series I called The Canadays of Montana, about three sisters. (And a fourth no one knew about!) So, during that series, I introduced Trey Reyes, a private investigator with a mysterious past as an employee of the Canaday Law Firm. Trey appeared in all of those books and finally cried out for his own.

My latest series, Band of Brothers, (about a group of ex-Navy SEALS who are all struggling, in various ways, to fit back into the world outside of the military) is a spin off from that first series and is also mostly set in Marietta, a town I have grown to love. Trey’s book, A Little Christmas Magic, was set there and his fellow brothers’ books will mostly be set there as well, although none of the brothers is actually from there. My latest book, Road to You, takes place mostly in Marietta, with a little detour later. Marietta has a way of working its magic on my characters and my readers really love that town, but since I don’t have the rest of the books fully plotted, we’ll see where the boys all end up.

Jann: I understand that the movies Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s played a part in the plotting for Road To You. Can you tell us how the characters from these two movies inspired you in developing Noah and Gemma and their HEA?

Barbara: Confession: I’m a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn and her movies. Seriously, if I channel surf past one, I always lose an afternoon. Roman Holiday is one of my favorites. There’s just something so bittersweet about the secrets they must keep from each other in that film. About the time I was beginning Noah’s book, all I knew about him was that he rarely showed up for group reunions and that his past was a bit sketchy—maybe a little bit secretive? What if, I thought, Noah wasn’t entirely who he said he was? What if, like Princess Anne in Roman Holiday, he was hiding his true identity—even from his brothers? (For good reasons, of course!) And what if he had a quick weekend fling with a stranger, a woman who, it turned out, was a reporter (like Joe Bradley) who just couldn’t stop looking for answers and—ala Roman Holiday—really needed that great scoop to save her career?

That’s how it started. I love using classic storytelling and twisting it to my own device. As I wrote this story, I also realized how that outsider theme—that never feeling truly like you fit in—also worked through her other films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and that as much as I loved Roman Holiday I also loved that these two people reminded me of the protagonists in Breakfast, which kind of gave me a backbone for my characters.

Writing books, for me, is always about characters and using theme to explore them. I usually end up with an overarching theme to the series I’m working on as a whole, something I want to roll around in my mind—something that’s maybe even applicable in my own life. It’s no accident that this series idea came to me after moving halfway across the country to a brand new home and needing to find new friends. This Band of Brothers series explores a group of men who have bonded like family—a security that allows them to also seek out someone to love.

 

Jann: Have you started working on Book Three? If so, can you share a little bit about the story?

Barbara: I’m working on this now so I can’t say too much, but the next book in the series will be about another of the ‘brothers’ named Jase ‘Cowboy’ Wheeler and a town-girl he met in a previous book who has a Down Syndrome little girl. In another life, Jase came from a construction family in Texas and he’s moved to Marietta to open his own firm there. But an unexpected bit of his past will catch up with him in this story. And the book will be about the ‘family’ he builds in this new place, both literally and figuratively. I love the parallels between construction and creating family where you find it. Did I mention I’m big on theme?

The Christmas Wish | Barbara Ankrum | A Slice of OrangeJann: Your contemporary romance novel, A Christmas Wish, was optioned and is under development for a cable-TV movie. Tell us about the story and the main characters—Eve Canaday and Dr. Ben Tyler.

Barbara: I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when this happened. The Christmas Wish was my first Christmas book ever and I just wanted to make it a fun holiday story that encompassed the generosity of the town of Marietta. My heroine, Eve Canaday, is the third sister in my Canadays of Montana series. She has had a long-standing crush on Dr. Ben Tyler, a local orthopedic surgeon. But Ben, who has had a difficult past with family and Christmas, has buried himself in his work and is leaving the country to interview for a faraway job as the story opens. However, an errant (lost?) reindeer hijacks that plan when Eve crashes into a snowbank avoiding it on the highway on the way to the airport. So instead of escaping Marietta (the town that loves Christmas), he and Eve wind up taking care of the young daughter of a recent widower friend who’s ended up in the hospital. Eve and Ben must follow a series of letters/wishes left by the friend’s late wife who wanted to be sure the little girl would still have a merry Christmas without her. Along with the help of many of the townspeople, they manage to do just that and fall in love at the same time. And also, that reindeer? It might be a little bit magical.

Jann: What kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

Barbara: That’s a good question. I would say I’m a disciplined writer, but I like deadlines. A lot. Most days, I will sit down and write at least a page or three even if I’m not on a deadline. But deadlines are good. They push me. So while I’ll write and rewrite for a while on a book until I get the tone and characters as I want them without worrying about my page count (I tend to delete a lot of pages at first until I find what I’m looking for in a story.) Once a deadline looms, I’m more of a burst writer. I’m much more comfortable with the story and the characters’ voices then and ten or more pages a day then is not unusual for me at that point.

But there is no right or wrong way. I used to sell books to NY publishers who required a whole synopsis and a real roadmap to sell it. But these days, I’m more of a panster and allow my story a little more breathing room. I know some writers might gasp at that change, but I think whatever makes writing fun for you is how you should do it. Writing is hard but there’s no use being hard on yourself for your method. Try different things to see what works best for you.

Jann: What are you dying to try next?

Barbara: Secretly? I’d love to write a Women’s Fiction book. My instincts are kind of pushing me in that direction, but that may yet be a few books down the road for me. I also write Historical romance and though I’ve been on a bit of a break from writing that, I hope to one day get back to that genre too. For me, the historical canvas just lends itself to bigger, more adventurous stories full of heroes who don’t take honor lightly and heroines who are struggling to make a place for themselves in a world that wants to keep them small. It’s a struggle we’re still fighting today on both fronts, but that’s so much clearer to see in historicals.

Jann: Barbara, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Looking forward to your first Women’s Fiction book.

Barbara: Thanks for having me and you can find out about all of my books on my website:
https://www.BarbaraAnkrum.com and you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraAnkrum and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Barbara.ankrum.author


A COWBOY TO REMEMBER

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A COWBOY TO REMEMBER

A LITTLE CHRISTMAS MAGIC

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A LITTLE CHRISTMAS MAGIC

ROAD TO YOU

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ROAD TO YOU

THE CHRISTMAS WISH

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THE CHRISTMAS WISH
Author bio
Author bio
Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since. Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined Romance Writers of America. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.
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    Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since. Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined Romance Writers of America. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.
  • Great interview, ladies!

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