Author Sara Barnard on Historical Romance, Oklahoma Plants, Chunky Sugars, and the Real “Friday Night Lights”

Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Sara Barnard on social media.  Anytime someone mentions Football Sweetheart on Twitter, I like to take the time to personally thank them… well, as personal as we can all get with a tweet to a stranger.  And sometimes the 140-character lines strike up a conversation that later lead to a new friendship, just like this particular instance with Sara.

Author Sara Barnard

When I thanked Sara for the tweet, her response grabbed my attention—being from the real Friday Night Lights school, she felt she just had to share the news about my book to her Twitterverse friends and family.  The following conversation went something like this:

Tiffany: You went to Odessa Permian?  I graduated from Midland Lee!
Sara: When did you graduate?
Tiffany: Mid ‘90s.  You?
Sara: Late ‘90s.
Tiffany: My mom graduated from Permian… she was a Pepette back in the day.
Sara: I was a member of the PHS pep squad!
Tiffany: And you write?
Sara: I do!
And so on, and so on.

We were instant friends… which makes sense, considering we grew up only fifteen miles apart from one another (give or take a few miles)!  And as my friend, I wanted to introduce Sara and her works to The Ooo Factor’s readers!

For a bit more on Sara, here is a brief bio:

Sara Barnard is a military wife and mother of four beautiful children. Though born and bred Texans, they have made their home all over the world and currently reside in the historic hills of Oklahoma. With each duty station, their family has grown a little more and they now co-exist with two Italian greyhound/border collie mixes, a Texan German shepherd, a beautiful belle of a cat from Colorado, a feisty Oklahoma Tomcat, and of course sweet Francis – the kitty who survived being flung from a speeding truck.

Sara holds her BA in History and is pursuing her MA in European History. Her historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart, is consistently five-star rated with books 3 and 4 releasing in June and December of this year. Her debut picture book, Chunky Sugars, released in January 2013 and her nonfiction regional children’s book, The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants, has hit bestseller lists in both the print and digital versions. Sara is a member of the Western Writers of America.

Before we jump into the interview, check out Sara’s blurbs for her historical romance series, An Everlasting Heart.

Enjoy!

A Heart on HoldA Heart on Hold (An Everlasting Heart, #1):

How much grief can a heart bear before being tested to the ultimate limit? The war is over, Sanderson is home, and life is good … until the Army comes knocking. They have charged Sanderson with murder and sentenced him to “hang by the neck until dead” – unless he can track down the notorious outlaw William Quantrill with the help of SGT Jerry Thomas, who still may be in love with Charlotte. With Sanderson gone, Charlotte is left to endure a complicated pregnancy and a rash of hydrophobia that threatens Cotton, Achilles, and the entire countryside – her Sanderson included.

A Heart BrokenA Heart Broken (An Everlasting Heart, #2):

War. Devotion. Deceit. Death. How long can a heart hold on before it breaks? Most women would carry on with their lives after being thrust into widowhood, but not Charlotte Adamsland. Upon learning that her husband, Captain Sanderson Redding, was killed in a botched escape from a Confederate prison in Illinois, she clings to his promise to return to her no matter what, and quickly heads north through a war-ravaged country with only her faith in God and her beloved horse to bring her beloved Sanderson home – one way or another.

Heart at HomeA Heart at Home (An Everlasting Heart, #3):

Gold. Massacres. Soldiers. Indians. Can Charlotte survive life on the trail or will the wildness of the west tear her family apart?
With Sanderson’s job as an Indian Agent beckoning from California, Charlotte must leave behind her life in Arkansas to follow the man she loves, and whose child she is carrying, in search of a place they can call home.
From Quanah Parker to Wyatt Earp, Charlotte and Sanderson rub shoulders with some of the American West’s most notable characters as they stumble into Government conspiracies, endure a hard pregnancy, and survive nature’s fury — all while struggling to remember what truly makes a home is love.

*****

When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

I always dreamt of writing, but never imagined a bestseller. For me, writing is has always been about getting the stories out of me and on paper … creating something that wasn’t there before and that nobody else could create … more than making a list. However, I can’t describe how happy I was when I learned that my very first book, The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants, made bestseller lists in both kindle and print! I must admit, it does leave you a little hungry for more!

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories and what made you decide to write historical romance?

All of my inspiration comes from life … whether it be my life or someone else’s. For example, in my debut novel, A Heart on Hold, Charlotte is based on me. She has my insecurities, my trademark traits, faults, shortcomings, and even my habits. Sanderson is based on the real-life Confederate Captain E.A. Adams, who was chronicled only a short while before the history books fell silent, and of course he is based on my husband, as well.

I didn’t so much decide to write historical romance as they just sort of happened when I sat down at the computer one day. My husband was deployed and it was rough on both of us, so I took what we were each going through and tossed it back in the 19th century, one of my favorite time periods, and A Heart on Hold was born. My heat level is consistently sweet, not only because I like to keep a Christian thread running through my stories, but because I have a young daughter who reads everything she can get her hands on and I don’t want to write anything that would scar her for life should she read something of mine!

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

Larry McMurtry because he is simply a legend … Lucia St. Clair Robson because her writing is so powerful that I can still recall scenes from Ride the Wind as vividly from memory as I did when I read them 15 years ago … Ann Swann because not only is she my mother, but her writing has influenced me since I was a child, and Phillipa Gregory, whom I just recently started reading. My fellow 5 Prince Publishing authors are all awesome and write everything from paranormal to mystery to spicy contemporary romance.

The cover art for your books is amazing.  Did you design them yourself?

Thank you!! I wish I could take the credit! Viola Estrella is the cover artist for 5 Prince Publishing and she is amazing at what she does! She takes our ideas, the mood and setting of our books, and meshes it all together and the result is always a cover more amazing than you imagined in the first place. I can hardly wait to see how the cover for book 4, A Heart Forever Wild, will look!

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Charlotte and why?

You know, I didn’t really imagine anyone in particular when creating Charlotte—at least not anyone popular in Hollywood today. Perhaps Sophie Marceau would be the closest I could come to pinning Charlotte to a Hollywood starlet J

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Well, just writing about Sophie Marceau made me think of Braveheart, so I suppose my mind wandered to the illustrious Mel Gibson!

Besides writing historical romance, you also published a book about plants in Oklahoma.  Do you consider yourself to have a green thumb, and if so, what plants would we find on your back porch?

Well, we recently started a garden consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, and the like. I don’t really have a green thumb though, as I have managed to kill anything I’ve ever planted before. Sigh. In writing The ABC’s of Oklahoma Plants I hoped to get Oklahoma kids outside and discovering their own environments and the value of plants –that they’re not just boring green things that grow in their peripheral vision. I plan to do a book for each of the states and the Texas version is coming soon … hopefully this May!

 What other hobbies do you enjoy?

I love to read and write and enjoy the outdoors with my precious children. Movies are fun, especially ones that are like my books – based in fact and true historical truths. I love to help my babies with their homework and daydream with my husband about our future. Hiking is a favorite pastime of ours, as well as traveling and seeing new things and experiencing new, well, experiences! I recently was accepted into an MA program for European history, so it is no secret that I love to learn and love love love history. I also like the thought of painting, but am really not very good at it. My daughter is, though.

You have also published a children’s book.  As a mother of four, did any particular experience inspire the story of Chunky Sugars?  And do you have any future children’s books planned?   

Chunky Sugars is a true story. I won’t give any spoilers, but it was a lesson I certainly learned the hard way! I wrote this particular book for my fourth and chunkiest baby, Lil’ Bit. He still loves this story, as do all of my sweet babies! I have written a book for each of them, all are in consideration with 5 Prince Kids right now and I am so excited!

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your favorite television programs airing today? 

I like The Americans and I loved Tudors, but neither of those are really suitable for family viewing. Little House on the Prairie, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Touched by an Angel, and Highway to Heaven are some of my all-time favorites. Oh, and Pocoyo.

Let’s switch to the big screen… what is your favorite movie all-time?

Braveheart. And Lonesome Dove.

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

Milk duds, popcorn, and water!

Lastly, you, like me, have experienced the real “Friday Night Lights” in West Texas.  Having graduated from Odessa Permian, what’s your favorite high school football memory? 

And keep in mind I’m a Midland Lee Rebel… so be nice. 

Hehe! My years spent on the pep squad and on the dance team are by far my favorite football-related memories. Painting yard signs, painting run-throughs, Friday morning pep rallies, running with the “Seventh Flag Over Texas” down the football field before the games … the chilly Friday nights in the stands cheering for the Mojo football team – it sure brings back a flood of memories. I have also been accepted into a teacher certification program in the Permian Basin, and my hope is to teach history at Permian when the fam and I get around to moving back down south to Football Land!

*****

Isn’t Sara adorable?

Need more Sara?  Catch up with her at her website, or follow her via her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Do you have a question for Sara?  Have you read any of her books?  Or how about this… do you have any “Friday Night Light” stories you’d like to share with these two West Texas high school football girls?  We’d love to hear from you! 

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6 Responses to Author Sara Barnard on Historical Romance, Oklahoma Plants, Chunky Sugars, and the Real “Friday Night Lights”

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    Sara, your series sounds wonderful! And you’re getting a Master’s degree while raising 4 kids and being a military wife?! Good grief, when do you sleep? 😉

    Thanks for sharing Sara with us, Tiffany!

    ~Kathy

    • sara barnard says:

      Hey Kathy! I have enrolled in two classes, Historical Research Methods and Writing a Thesis. Both start on May 6, but the thesis class is only about half as long as the research methods. All is done online, thankfully, and will hopefully whet my appetite for European history and give me the proper foundation for being able to teach at the college level, which is my ultimate goal 🙂

      Thank you for the compliment of my An Everlasting Heart series! I am excited to get all four books out there for the world to read. I also have some other stuff in the works: a Scottish Regency-era romance based on my real-live ancestors, an Amish romance that is under review with 5 Prince, and a plethora of children’s books. My ABC’s of America’s plants series is very time consuming with just the indexing alone, but well worth it. Texas plants are coming this summer, with Alaska plants to follow!

      Luckily, Jerry isn’t a Drill Sergeant any more and has some semblance of normal hours so he is around more. He is coaching WeeBall for our middle son this summer, so that will be fun. If you want to check him out, watch the movie Restrepo. He is in the last scene just before Operation Rock Avalance. The late Juan Restrepo was his best bud during that deployment.

  2. sara barnard says:

    Thank you for having me today, Tiffany! Loving the pictures — especially of Mel! My oldest son walked by and said nonchalantly “Hey, there’s William Wallace!” Haha, trying to impart some of my historical love in the kids from a young age!!

  3. Sara, I just followed you on Twitter. I write both Christian nonfiction and historical fiction. Also share West Texas ties with you through family in Lamesa. Congrats on your work.

    • sara barnard says:

      What a small world, David! Our annual family reunion takes place in Lamesa 🙂 My mom was a Golden Tornado!! I will follow you back when I get on twitter in a bit! In advance, thanks for the follow! I look forward to hearing about your work in the future!!

  4. Ann Swann says:

    Great post, Tiffany. You captured the essence of my daughter (and her work) very well. So glad you two met. Isn’t it a small world?

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