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  • Joan Schweighardt

Spotlight on Barbara Quinn

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Barbara Quinn has written a multitude of award-winning stories and novels, in a variety of genres. What shines through all her work is her love for life and her hope for the future. What a pleasure it is to have her in the Five Directions Press “Spotlight.”

How did you come to write a novel called The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me?

I visited the Jersey Shore for many years before finally buying a place in Bradley Beach, a town in an area that’s filled with music history. Springsteen has always been active in this part of New Jersey and continues to be involved on many levels. As I spent time in my home, I became drawn to the way the music of the Boss was informed by the area and also how deeply his songs affected people throughout the world. The sun, the water, and the music, made a perfect backdrop for a timeless story of rebirth after tragedy and betrayal. His music has helped me personally through difficult times and that also was a catalyst.

Have you ever met The Boss and does he know of your book?

Sadly, no, I haven’t met him, though I’ve been close enough to voice my appreciation for his work. But he does know of the book as it's been forwarded to him and to people in his network to ensure it doesn't violate any restrictions.

In addition to Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me, you have written four other novels and many award-winning short stories. These works of fiction span a multitude of genres, from romance to paranormal to humor to fantasy to suspense. What—if anything—do your novels and stories have in common?

I believe in offering a message of hope and trying to convey that the human spirit is meant not only to weather the storms it faces, but to rise up and move forward after difficult times. I think that the themes of hope and caring run through the books and stories.

Which of your novels or stories would make the best feature film or Netflix series and why?

I have a soft spot in my heart for The Speed of Dark. It’s a coming-of-age tale that I think everyone can relate to. Who wouldn’t want to encounter a girl with magical powers who can help you conquer the most dangerous demons? We sure could use her now! This story has it all:  love, lightning, fallen angels, friendship, and a great mom.

You started out as a lawyer. What kind of law did you practice, and what made you leave law and head for the literary world?

I’ve always written stories, even as a child when I also wrote plays for my Girl Scout troop and loved the applause. But it was difficult to make a living at that. The law provided me with a secure livelihood and I managed to find time to work on my stories before or after the day job. A large part of my law career consisted of writing legislation and proclamations as an assistant county attorney and town attorney. I learned to investigate and write with authority on topics such as manure pile rules and no-smoking ordinances. I also wrote a legal column for a local paper and covered high-profile trials and local events. Those skills honed my style and made me a harsh critic of my words. As time wore on, I became more confident and my husband’s career took off. He became my personal patron of the arts allowing me to cut back on the law. I am very fortunate!

You started the award-winning The Rose & Thorn literary ezine in 1998. Was the world a better place for writers back then, or is it better now?

The writing world is a far better place for writers now. It’s easier to have your voice heard because of the efforts of online places like The Rose & Thorn. In the past, high walls surrounded publication and there weren’t many places to bring your work. The gatekeepers are still there, but now they don’t hold as much influence and you can get around them and scale those fences. Many more outlets exist. Exposure is still difficult, but it can be done. The Rose & Thornwas one of the first online literary publications, staffed by volunteer writers who learned by doing. It was terrific being a part of a sea change in the writing world. 

You’ve traveled all over the world. Do you consider yourself an adventurer, and what kind of impact have your adventures had on your writing?

I do love to travel and like going to new, exciting, and unusual places, and trying new things, so I’m an adventurer, though not too much the daredevil type! Taking in new vistas, smells, and sounds awakens all my senses. Seeing different cultures makes me question some of the most basic elements of life and allows me to grow and understand issues that I’ve never faced. Meeting people who live in far off places is a drug for me. No matter how difficult life may be, people manage to find joy, and they love their families the same way everywhere. I enjoy talking to people and making friends wherever I go. I spend time in neighborhood grocery stores and out-of-the-way places, and am always amazed by the alternate history that isn’t in guidebooks and by the different foods and practices that don’t cross borders. 

What will your next book be about?

The book I’m working on is called It Can Always Get Worse. I guess I was prescient when I started it almost two years ago, though it’s set in the fifties and sixties! I’m about halfway through and always knew it would be a big book, in the sense that it deals with large ideas of loyalty, trust, hope, and love. But the current state of the world is weaving its way into my subconscious, so I’m waiting to see how that plays out. This is a story of two women who are friends since girlhood, and who swap much more than their clothes. It’s an exploration of how we grow and what it means to be a friend. 

I’ve also completed a story called “Tim Cratchit’s Christmas Carol,” which is more of a novella. It’s the story of what happened to Tiny Tim Cratchit after he grows into a teen. This one is a venture into the steampunk genre, which is quite a challenge, so stay tuned!

View the book trailer for The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me here:

View Barbara Quinn’s website here:

Barbara Quinn is an award-winning short story writer and author of novels in many genres including her latest, The Summer Springsteen's Songs Saved Me, a story that pays tribute to the healing power of the music of the Boss. A native New Yorker, with roots in the Bronx, Long Island, and Westchester, she currently resides with her husband in Bradley Beach, NJ and Holmes Beach, FL. Her travels have taken her to forty-seven states and six continents where she’s encountered fascinating settings and inspiring people that populate her work. Her many past jobs include lawyer, record shop owner, reporter, process server, lingerie sales clerk, waitress, and postal worker. She enjoys spending time with her son and his family and listening to the Boss.

Her other novels include The Speed of Dark, a coming-of age tale about a boy who encounters a girl with magical powers; Hard Head, a paranormal romance that follows a mom and her troubled daughter to Italy where they discover their shocking past; Slings and Arrows, the story of a woman who becomes involved with a sketchy spiritualist; and 36C, a lingerie clerk's search for love in Manhattan.

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