Sunday, August 16, 2009

Author Interview with BARBARA FLEMING

Barbara Fleming is a native of Colorado and has always been interested in history. Her careers have included being a mother, journalist, teacher, and writer. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and cat.
Tell us about your career as a journalist. How did you make the jump from Journalism to Historical Fiction?

History has always fascinated me. In college, I wanted to become a history professor but was discouraged from that career, which seemed at the time to be for men only. I kept my interest in history throughout a career as a newspaper editor, then an English teacher, and finally a training coordinator for the EPA. Journalism is a marvelous foundation for fiction; through the stories I wrote and the people I interviewed, I gained a wealth of knowledge and ideas. Teaching, I encountered every imaginable aspect of human behavior, and while with the government I was able to travel to new places. All of this becomes fodder for fiction.

You’re a native of Colorado and have written two books centering around Fort Collins, Colorado. Tell us why that area is so fascinating to you.

Fort Collins started as a small Army outpost during the Indian uprisings in the 1860s. The early history of the area is full of drama. To me, history is the stories of the people who lived it. They were real, flesh-and-blood individuals even as you and I, and on the edge of the Wild West they lived exciting lives. For years, I wrote a column on local history for a weekly newspaper, and I wasn’t even close to running out of material.

Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?

I grew up with Louisa May Alcott and have never lost my love of her writing. She brings people to life in her books in a way I only wish I could achieve. Her characters are flawed, lovable human beings struggling through life as we all do, and from the time I was young I wanted to be a writer like her.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Going from the terse, concise style of journalism to the more descriptive, flowing, sometimes contemplative style of fiction was difficult for me. It took a long time. It also took time to advance from “that’s what really happened” to crafting stories with dramatic impact that use reality as a catalyst.

Journeying is your most recent novel. Tell us about it and where we can buy it.

Journeying is the story of a young woman, Hannah Bowman, who emigrates west with the man she loves, a bi-racial physician, son of a slave. In 1872 they travel from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Colorado Territory, where they establish a homestead. On the way west in a wagon train, Hannah begins a journal that becomes her companion and dear friend; she continues to confide in her journal until 1881, when a dramatic event that threatens to end in tragedy disrupts the Bowman family’s lives. Over a century later, her great-granddaughter finds the journal and solves some of the mysteries Hannah did not reveal. It is available through The Reader’s Cove ( in Fort Collins, and at the Barnes and Noble and web sites.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I have written three other novels but have not yet sought publishers for them. The one in progress now is called Charlie, the story of a teenaged girl who sets out on a quest to find the father she has never met. This book began as the fictionalizing of something that happened in my family, but it turned into another story altogether.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

For all the years I have been writing, I have shared my work with fellow writers I respect. I believe that finding a critique group that works for the writer is the single most important step a new writer—or any writer—can take. On my web site,, I post “Thoughts on Writing” each month, discussing various aspects of being a writer.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? Tell us about the personal/professional benefits of networking with other writers.

I am a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and while I lived in Denver was a member of the Denver Women’s Press Club. The benefits of networking with other writers are immeasurable—contacts, sales tactics, bolstering of the ego (that can sometimes get pretty battered while you are trying to sell your work), and the comradeship of others who are doing what you love to do. The conversations alone are worth the membership fees.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I will be at The Reader’s Cove, 1001 East Harmony Road, and at Bookends on Lemay Avenue, both in Fort Collins, in September, and at the authors’ corner at the Fort Collins Senior Center’s Holiday Market in November. I was featured on fellow author Patricia Stoltey’s Author Monday blog in July and hope to meet with a couple of local book clubs to discuss my book.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

I cannot imagine not writing. It is as much a part of my daily routine as eating and sleeping; it is essential to my well-being. In that way, I believe, all writers connect. We write, whether our work gets noticed or not, because we must. We write for the love of the words and the stories, and we live in hope that readers will enjoy the fruits of our efforts. Thanks for the opportunity to express these thoughts.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My web site is


  1. And Fort Collins is the home of the Odell Brewing Company (no relation, unfortunately, but good beer.) We make a point of visiting when we're in Colorado.

  2. Hi, Barbara,

    Your novel sounds very original and interesting.

    Wishing you every success!

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star 2009

  3. I can imagine it would be hard to go from journalism to fiction. But it sounds like it gave you a great foundation, too.

    I was also a big fan of Alcott's. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  4. I find that after having authored a newspaper column for seven years, along with having penned numerous magazine articles--all of which have word limits, my fiction writing is tighter and less apt to spiral off into tangents.

    Did you find yourself in a similar situation, Barbara?

  5. Hello to a fellow journalist!

    I once had a student who posed the argument that the field of journalism is more adept than English departments at offering a wide range of practical skills for basic college composition classes. Much said in this interview - about a journalist writing a book, including historical research and more - brought that argument to mind...

  6. Another excellent interview, Linda. And nice to see you here, Barbara. To all, I read an advance copy of Journeying and highly recommend this novel.