Mandy Eve-Barnett - Love, Magic, and Mystery
Mandy currently lives in Alberta, Canada but is originally from England. Her background is diverse and gives her rich experience to utilize in her writing. She has traveled throughout Europe, parts of America and Canada and was born in Africa. Mandy is passionate about writing to the point of obsession and she succeeded in becoming a published author in record time. Mandy’s venture into freelance writing has been successful and she regularly contributes to Strathcona Connect, an e-zine and the Never Been Better page in the Sherwood Park newspaper as well as satisfying numerous clients. She is also the Secretary for her local writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and Past President of the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County. Writing in various genres, Mandy has been published in anthologies, on numerous websites as well as regularly blogging about her writing journey. www.mandyevebarnett.com. Her published works is constantly growing with numerous manuscripts pending and ideas flowing there is no end to her stories. Each tale has a base theme of love in all it forms. Mandy has a deep love of the natural world and childlike wonder of the magical realm.
Please give us a short introduction to what Life in Slake Patch is about.
The narrative centers around a young man living under a matriarchal society. He and his male counterparts do not question the system they live under until two simultaneous events occur. The first is when, Evan (the main protagonist) and his mentor, Jacob, discover a book that reveals another way of life prior to the Grand War. The other is a nucleus of young men rebel against the matriarchal rule. Evan becomes a pivotal figure in the fight against this tribe, but also his perspective changes about the way they live as events take place and he interviews the tribe leader. This is compounded by his tryst (marriage) to a young woman, Kate, and wanting to be with her full time. The main point of the story is to show neither gender bias society is better than the other – we need to be on an equal status.
What inspired you to write this story? What made you want to tackle this?
The idea was sparked by a conversation about a ‘woman’s place’ in our patriarchal society and the struggles that brings. I wanted to write from a male point of view of an alternative society to investigate how it would affect the male/female roles. The conflicts, the struggles and the viewpoints.
Tell us more about Evan? What makes him tick?
He is a young man living within a regulated regime; one he accepts without question until events take over. He has a great prowess for wrestling but is also a dreamer wanting to explore further than the lands in which he lives. He is naturally curious and his mentor, Jacob, encourages that, although in secret. Their discoveries reveal ancient history and stories allowing Evan to expand the possibilities of his limited life, if only in his daydreams. His loyalty, physical strength and natural mediating abilities come to the fore as events take him on a path he could never have perceived.
Do any of your characters ever go off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Absolutely, in most of my narratives, one character or another will steer me in an unexpected direction. My last novel, The Commodore’s Gift is a case in point. The original male protagonist was surpassed by a feisty, strong willed woman, who literally made the narrative about her! This is what makes writing for me such fun, you never know where the story or characters will take you.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Not sure if it is secret, but I have quite a knowledge of reincarnation and life after death experiences. This was spurred by an experience I had while nursing, many moons ago. I am also creative in a multiple of mediums from paint to textiles to pottery and more, when the impulse takes me. Prior to the pandemic, I hosted regular crafting days with friends. We tackled a vast range of art forms, while enjoying each other’s company, food and drink. It is fun to learn a new craft, whether you continue with it or not. However, writing fiction or non-fiction are my main obsession.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this story?
Being able to explore the viewpoint of a man in complete contrast to the one I live as a woman. And creating my own post-apocalyptic story - a world without technology, driving life back to the basics.
How much research did this book require from you to make the history part of it ring true?
As it is a speculative fiction – I could make up my own history within the narrative. However, I needed to decide on the length of time that passed between the apocalyptic event and the beginning of my story, what was left of the previous civilization and the mechanics of the change in regime and its cause.
You have traveled all over the world. How did this influence your writing?
Being able to experience other cultures, sights, sounds and tastes has given me a wealth of information, I can sprinkle into my narratives. From ancient stone circles to nightlife in a city and everything in between. I can create characters within a location, knowing how that location feels, what makes people tick and giving me the ability to ‘flesh out’ my characters.
Cool cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.
The new cover was a concept in my mind’s eye. The previous cover gave reality to how I saw the compound Evan lived in, but as my other novels were published, I saw a commonality I wanted to achieve and reflect with Life in Slake Patch. My cover artist was able to create Evan and Kate from my descriptions – showing her strength and dominance and Evan’s loyalty and physicality. It gives my adult novels a more uniform look for branding purposes. I hope to make them a box set in the future.
What was the most challenging thing you had to go through when writing this story?
The original draft of Life in Slake Patch was my very first attempt at National Novel Writing Month in 2009, when I had only been writing for several months. The idea of 50,000 words in a month was daunting, but I was determined to give it a go. I became quite manic, writing after work and the majority of weekends trying to make the ‘ideal’ daily word count of 1667. When the month ended and I had succeeded, I was pleased but apprehensive as to how to proceed. I was fortunate to have really supportive writers within my local writing group. Several of them had also participated in NaNoWriMo, so we created a monthly workshop to swap, edit and comment on each other’s work. This process helped me refine the narrative. However, I did not feel it was worthy of publication, I was at that time a self-proclaimed writing novice, so it was filed for another day. As my writing skill improved, I returned to the story several times over many years to edit and revise it. It was not until 2018, that I felt the narrative was good enough to publish. It is my longest project to date at nine years!
I now know that no matter what project I have there is always room for improvement as I continue to learn my skill and revisiting an old project is a great way to see that progress.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
When a scene or concept ‘pops’ into my head, I write down as much as I can – a info-dump, if you like of any and everything about the story. If may be a partial character description, a complete scene or just a vague idea of a narrative. Some become short stories in their own right, others grow exponentially as my mind formulates the story, or a character shows up fully formed and demanding attention.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I would love to have an average writing day, however with full time work, volunteer secretary positions with the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as family commitments – life tends to be busy at the best of times. I tend to write when I have a) spare time and b) the inclination. I would say I have bursts of writing, mainly on regular writing retreats and, of course, in November’s NaNoWriMo.
I’m not sure if it is a habit per se but I do enjoy writing free flow rather than planning. I let the story take me along for the ride (seeing it like a movie in my head) and worry about the technicalities later on. The exception to this rule is my current work in progress, which is a trilogy, where I had to plan!
What are you working on right now?
My current project is a detective trilogy, spanning three different cities, three female detectives and a common assailant. As my first trilogy, I have been learning a new writing skill – planning and plotting across three books. The concept literally popped into my head last year, when I was struggling to find a NaNoWriMo project. I was shocked, delighted and apprehensive all rolled into one at the complexity of the idea. I have edited and revised the first book several times to date and hope to have it ready for publication in September 2021. I will utilize this year’s NaNo to begin the second book.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I hope you are ready for this – the list is long. However, the best way is via my blog as I post twice a week and all my details, contact information, book links, reviews, interviews etc. are on it.
Alberta Authors Cooperative https://www.albertaauthorscooperative.ca/Authors/Eve-Barnett/Mandy
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V
Alberta Authors Cooperative http://www.albertaauthorscooperative.ca/
Publisher: Dream Write Publishing. www.dreamwritepublishing.ca