Welcome to the Gang
by Saralyn Richard
Once in a while, a new mystery author puts on her stilettos and joins the crew. The Stiletto Gang is happy to welcome Barbara Kyle, and we know you will enjoy hearing from her on the third Wednesday of each month.
Today, I'm sharing an interview with Barbara. After you've read about her many talents and adventures, I know your appetite will be whetted for her first blogpost tomorrow.
Saralyn: Barbara, you've had several enriching and fulfilling careers on the path to becoming an author. Can you tell us a little about your days as a film, TV, and stage actor, and how that career influences your life as a writer?
Barbara: I loved being an actor. On stage I did a lot of classical theater: Shakespeare and Shaw and Moliere. On TV I starred in the daytime drama High Hopes, and in the series The Campbells I had a lovely continuing role as a feisty pioneer innkeeper who never quite won the heart of the dishy Doctor Campbell. In film, a favorite role was in a made-for-TV movie about the hostage crisis in Iran when Jimmy Carter was president. I played the president’s wife, Roselynn Carter. That was an honor. Later, when I turned to writing fiction, it felt like a natural extension of acting. I mean, I’d been playing characters written by someone else for years, so I thought: why not create characters myself, in fact create whole stories?
Saralyn: Your Thornleigh Saga series is set in Tudor England. What is it about that time and place that captured your imagination?
Barbara: The trigger was Sir Thomas More. He was Henry VIII’s chancellor and friend, but he famously went to the scaffold to die rather than submit to Henry’s tyranny. That story always fascinated me. Sir Thomas More had a couple of wards – that’s an historical fact – so I decided to create another, fictional ward for him and make her the heroine of a novel. So that’s how Honor Larke came to “star” in my first historical novel, The Queen’s Lady. Honor becomes a lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and then comes into conflict with Sir Thomas, the man she’d once revered. By the way, the situation of wardship in that historical period is fascinating; I wrote about it in this article: Wanted: Rich Orphans: The Tudor Court of Wards.
Saralyn: When you wrote THE QUEEN'S LADY, did you know that it would be the start of a series? Did you have an outline in mind for all seven books?
Barbara: Not at all – it was quite a zig-zag path to the series. Penguin published The Queen’s Lady and its sequel, The King’s Daughter, but after that my editor there moved on, so I turned to writing thrillers. Then, a few years later, I got a note from that editor saying she was now editorial director at Kensington Books and wanted to re-publish those first two books plus sign me to write more. Eventually, the series grew to seven books that follow three generations of Honor’s family, the Thornleighs (Honor married seafaring merchant Richard Thornleigh), through three turbulent Tudor reigns.
Saralyn: What was it like to switch from historical novels to thrillers?
Barbara: The funny thing is, all my books are thrillers, even the Thornleigh Saga books. Life and death stakes, implacable antagonists, lethal deadlines – these dynamics drive all my stories, from the historicals to The Experiment to, most recently, my novel of suspense, The Man from Spirit Creek. It seems I can’t help it!
Saralyn: I've participated in some of your author mentoring classes online, and I've appreciated how knowledgeable and organized you are. What particular joys do you find in helping other authors to achieve success?
Barbara: One of the true joys of my life is cheering the success of writers I’ve mentored. Many of them have become award-winning authors. Writers usually tap easily into their innate talent, but talent and instinct only take you so far. When instinct gets stuck, it’s time to open the toolbox of techniques, and I love showing writers the tools that can help them get moving again. Anyone who’s interested will find lots of tips in my videos on my YouTube channel Write Your Page-Turner, and my book Page-Turner. I firmly believe that perfecting craft is an enriching, life-long journey for all writers.
Barbara Kyle is the author of the bestselling Thornleigh Saga series of historical novels (“Riveting Tudor drama” – USA Today) and of acclaimed thrillers. Over half a million copies of her books have been sold. Her latest is The Man from Spirit Creek, a novel of suspense. Barbara has taught hundreds of writers in her online classes and many have become award-winning authors. Page-Turner, her popular how-to book for writers, is available in print, e-book, and audiobook. Visit Barbara at www.BarbaraKyle.com
Award-winning author, Saralyn Richard was born with a pen in her hand and ink in her veins. A former educator, she loves connecting with readers. Her humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children's book pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools.