Starting reading at a young age with Nancy Drew, moving to Archie comics and evolving into a reader of romantic suspense books, Mimi Barbour decided that she wanted to tell stories and wrote her first book at the age of fifty-five. Living in various places through her life and collected various experiences to put into words, Mimi writes romance novels which is a genre she always enjoyed reading, even when she describes herself as a tomboy while she was growing up. Saying she would choose to rather shoot herself if she has to choose one between reading and writing, Mimi has seven series of books to her credit and numerous single titles. Planning to write Sweet Leni as the next book of the series- The Mob Tracker, and supporting other authors through a group called The Authors’ Billboard, Mimi has come a long way from bribing her own son to edit her first book to being a bestselling author who believes that being an author is demanding and non-ending.
I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, moved to British Columbia at eighteen and then spent seven years with my husband in Northern Canada and the Yukon. Settling down, we relocated to Vancouver Island for the next thirty-eight years, with a seven year break to live in fabulous Chile and a two year sprint in National Geographic-like, Western Africa. (Guinea)
My childhood in five words:
Normal – as life was back in the fifties where we had all the freedom in the world to build forts, play on the streets and stay out till all hours.
Fun – because I had parents who loved life and an older sister and younger brother who they tended to keep track of while they didn’t pay too much attention to me - their little tomboy.
Poor - because dad worked hard - like a frenzied hamster on a madly spinning wheel and didn’t get ahead until he changed jobs to move to BC and work in the mines. There, they called him big, bad John. He’s my hero – always was and always will be.
Inventive - I had an imagination that never stopped and spent hours by myself in my make-believe dream worlds.
Bubble - not sure how to explain this but I seemed to have existed in a happy bubble where I seldom got touched by reality. Now, when my sister and I talk about our childhood (she was only 13 months older) we have two completely different sets of memories. Mine were positive and happy. Hers – not so much.
Like most authors, I loved to read. Started with Nancy Drew and moved on to comics, Archie was my fav. I soon switched to the really spicy stuff around the age of eleven – shocking, one-kiss- at-the- end, Harlequins. In those days, characters would build up to their final declarations of love and I’d have stars in my eyes and tiny hearts floating around in my head. I went through those books like a teen slurping a giant soda. Eventually, I moved on to single title romantic suspense books from authors like Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts. I was fifty-five when I decided I would write a book.What was the first book you ever wrote and what was it titled? Was it ever published?
I called my first book Aftershock. Every mistake a new author could make appeared in that book. So I could enter it in a contest, I bribed my son to edit the first three chapters – okay I begged (he was in his twenties). He made me promise three things after he finished. (1) I would never ask him again. (2) He would never be expected to read my romance books if any were published. And (3) I’d never use his name “David” for a hero. I promised and then messed with him when I changed the hero’s name to Joe Davidson. It took ten years for me to finally rewrite that book and publish it under the title – I’m No Angel.What characterises a good book to you? In what ways do you try and make your books reach that mark?
For me, it’s all about the characters. If an author doesn’t make me care about the male/female/thing she’s based the story on, the book soon loses its appeal and I find it easy to put down. There has to be something about the protagonist that most people can relate to. I try very hard to set those traits up in the first few pages. I’ve worried in some of my latest books that I don’t bring in the main character until chapter two. Therefore, it’s imperative to grab the reader’s interest in the first chapter so they’ll move on and eventually get introduced to my hero or heroine.Why do you write romance? What first introduced you to the suspense/paranormal romance genre?
I write what I most love to read. I started writing light paranormals - spirit travel stories that were so much fun to work on, I wrote 7 for the Vicarage Bench Series, the latest called Together Always. Think about a plot where a body resides in a coma while its spirit invades the body of another person and they fall in love, overcome terrible obstacles, and have romance drenching most pages. I moved on to Angels and had more fun there with the idea of angels who were so realistic, one wondered if they we human. There’s a collection of this series called Angel’s with Attitudes. I also wrote quite a few contemporary books with simply a romance as the base. But soon, I became involved with a group of writers who decided to write a suspense collection full of short stories that were actually introductions to a full-length book. My submission to this set was a short introductory story I wrote for The Vegas Series, called Partners. Talk about stoked! Man, I loved the whole idea of being the creator of so much conflict. It was mind-boggling, thrilling and huge fun. Again, the characters drove me and if you read the reviews for many of my suspense books, the readers mostly comment on one aspect - they couldn’t put the book down. They got it! I’m thrilled.What was it that inspired the Mob Tracker Series? Does Cassidy hold a special place in your heart, seeing as though she's one of the first characters you created in the series?
That series is all about Cassi. I love her because she stole my heart right from the beginning. As much trauma and bad sh-- -tuff I put her through, she overcame it all. The idea for the series bloomed when I was at the Seattle RWA Convention, listening to a panel of editors and publishers offering advice to all the authors in the audience. I noted that many of them admitted that mob crime had taken off and the readers were looking for that type of a book. My mind started creating right then and there and I came up with the premise of a young, naive, girl watching as the mob kills her twin. Because these books need to be read in sequence, I tried to keep the series at four books. But those darn characters can be demanding and Faith pushed to get her own story. Once I wrote that novella, Leni came along waving her hands like Kermit the frog and I’m stuck with having one more to write.How important is physical appearance to you when creating a character for a romance book? If your characters were real, who do you think would be the most good looking?
As we see on TV and in the movies, physical appearance is big. But in books, I feel that the reader will always imagine a character how they want them to look. Therefore, I work hard to bring their personalities alive and pass on small tidbits about their looks. Of course, I give the outline of how I see them. Like Cassi – she cut her long hair and it was necessary. For her. It was her way of taking control of her choices and for her character’s growth. I wrote her as a beautiful woman so she would be attractive to a handsome man. I don’t go into huge details of flaws but they all have them. As you get to know them, they’re admitted and detailed, like temper, stubbornness, judgemental, etc. As far as the physical beauty or lack of, I’ll leave to each reader.In what ways did Cassi grow from book 1 to book 4 and how does that follow with your own growth personally and also as an author?
Cassi had been restricted by her men-folk and growth was imperative. When you first meet her, she’s naïve and childlike, almost old-fashioned in her ways and a weakling who answers to her men. (I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I was very like her in my younger years. My head was firmly planted in a metaphorical sandbank and the stars in my eyes obscured real life and the sad reality other people lived through.) As Cassi makes up her mind to change, to be stronger, she learns a lesson; the strength had always been there. Only no-one had allowed her to use it. Or should we say, she never pushed to take control except with her brother in the ring. There, she found power - her control and skill and her potential intensified. The more she used that ability, the easier it became. And she loved herself because of it. Once she loved herself, she could truly care about others. Imagine how she must have felt when the one man who scooped her heart right out of her chest and into his tender, loving hands had needs too. He needed to protect her… control her. A direct contrast to what she needed.What are some plans you have for future books of this series?
As I mentioned above, I wrote four main books for the series starting with Sweet Retaliation. The next three were called: Sweet Justice, Sweet Resolution and Sweet Endings. Each of the books shows the elimination of yet another gang member who was there when they murdered her twin brother. Funny thing is, two of the secondary characters won my heart with their own personal evolution and so I wrote Sweet Faith – a hooker turned nanny. And I’ll write Sweet Leni as soon as I’ve cleared away a few other commitments. Leni needs to learn that she’s as smart and strong and respected as the kick-ass boxer in the ring. She’s worthy and once she understand that concept, a happy future will finally be possible.Do you prefer writing a series or standalones? Why or why not?
In the case of Cassi’s story, I had to write a series. The stories just kept coming. In the case of the Undercover FBI Series, there are five books but they are all stand- alone stories and can be read in any order. The Holiday Heart-warmer Series again have stand-alone stories which all stem from one main theme. Each story is centered on Samoyed puppies. Guess you can tell my favorite breed of dog LOL?If you had to choose between either being able to write but never reading again or being able to read but never writing again, what would you choose and why?
I’d just shoot myself!! Can’t answer….What are some ways you try and support fellow authors? Do you have any author friends and if so, how do they help you?
I started a closed group called The Authors’ Billboard two years ago and have diligently kept the numbers to thirty members. Some of us were NYT & USAT authors and to help the others in the group get their tag, one of our first gang undertakings was for twenty of us to write new novellas and publish them in a box collection called Love, Christmas. The girls were thrilled when we hit the USAT bringing many more their status. We have come a long way with this group. We depend on each other in many ways including bringing out a huge number of box collections where we team up 6 – 9 of us to release these sets. We have recently started a series of Box Collections for our Unforgettable line with the first called Unforgettable Suspense, followed by Unforgettable Danger again followed by Unforgettable Trouble and the most recent one still on Pre-order, Unforgettable Weddings. Of course, all these sets are on Amazon Select and are free for any of those Amazon buyers. With so much talent in our group, we share the social media advertising, join in with the promotion budgets and all take on different jobs. We also have a very active website that I’m inviting you all to visit and try your luck at our May contest. Check out the blog posts and open out book’s page. You’d be very welcome to sign on for our weekly newsletter that comes out every Friday full of freebies, sales and new releases.How has becoming a best-selling author affected your day-to- day life? Some would say that you have peaked in your career as an author, but what are some goals you have set for yourself, till now?
Who says I’ve peaked?? Let me hug them and then sit them down to the realities of life as an author in today’s world. I work harder now that at any other time in my life and I used to be the sole pay mistress for 5 heavy-duty construction unions on a mine job that ran a payroll weekly. This being an author is demanding and non- ending. Anyone who thinks all we do is write the book and our work is done, needs to give their heads a shake. In today’s world, authors are cover artists, editors, promoters, social media gurus, bankers, accountants, and, and…