Author Barb Simmons writes contemporary and paranormal romance. She also writes erotica under the pen name Belle Sloane. Her most recent contemporary release is The War Within (February 2021), the first in her Wounded Warrior Romance series. You’ll find Barb on BelleSloane.com and her two Facebook pages: BarbSimmons and BelleSloaneBooks.
What would you like people to know about The War Within?
That it was the most fun I ever had writing a book, and I think it really shows in the story.
What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
That people with disabilities can and do enjoy all the same things in life as people without disabilities. Sometimes they just need to get a little creative about things.
Who are your main characters?
Mike Ramos is a former Marine Raider who lost his leg in battle. He also struggles with the fallout from his experiences in Afghanistan. He knows he’s struggling and avoids getting the help he needs to move on. He finally sees the light about that. Vivian March is an Ortho nurse and fitness fan like Mike is. She overcomes issues with military vets and family history.
What makes the setting important to the telling of the story?
For me the setting is often like another character in the story. Setting lends tons of texture and strengthens the reality of the story.
What sparked the idea for the book?
The idea for The War Within came to me when I was on the leg press at the gym. And bam, I was on it. I usually mull a while before getting going with a story. But this one was one of those wonderful times where the bulk of the story came faster than I could type when I sat down to work.
What challenges did this work pose for you?
I did what I usually do—researched stuff I’m not familiar with and armed myself with a host of technical advisors.
Any “Oh, wow!” moments when doing research for The War Within?
Just that the story flowed so nicely as I went along. That doesn’t happen too often.
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
When I first started writing (1992), I was a pantser from the word go, but over the years I’ve developed into a hybrid of sorts. I do use a white board to give me a visual of where I’ve been and where I’m going. I tend to write the first three chapters of a story and then settle into a deal where I plot the next one to three chapters, then write then plot the next one to three.
Do you have a message or a theme that recurs in your work?
I seem to have a penchant for redemption stories.
What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea?
Usually what comes to me first is the main character in a particular setting, where something happens to them that takes them forever out of their normal world.
What writing projects are you working on now?
The War Within is the first in my three-book series of Wounded Warrior romances. I’m currently working on the second book, which is Trevor’s story. He was the mentor in the first book. This will be my first romance featuring an older hero and heroine. Trevor is a Vietnam veteran.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.
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