8/9/2019 Interview All Things Girl
Author Insight: Barbara K. Richardson March 31, 2010an interview byAll Things Girlan online magazine
1. Tell us about your background.
Im a tomboy with an unstoppable urge to create and problem solve. Ivecreated landscapes and clothing and curriculums. The problem solving comesin handy when all you want to do is publish a great novel and no one in theworld gives a hoot.
2. We know you as the author of the novel Guest House but what else haveyou written that may not be as well known?
Not to appear too geeky, but I published essays on Philip Larkins earlycreative development. I held his first manuscript notebook in my hands forone magnificent day at the British Museum. Larkin moved from confusedimitator to genuine poet in those pages.
3. Where did you get the idea for your current novel?
Two characters found their way into my imagination and would not leave:Matt the odd-ball kid and Melba the real estate maven.
4. What is your favorite scene in Guest House?
Well, the bowling alley fist fight holds a certain place in my heart. Its notoften a literary novel gets to break into a Keystone Kops episode. If youveever tried to actually get anywhere in a VW van, youll resonate with Melbasanguished road trip to Idaho. But I believe my favorite scene involves Matt.Matt the happy walnut nestled in the potato cellar, when his childhood finds ahaven, a safe home.
5. Did you base your characters on people that you know or have met?
Yes, nearly all of the characters are composites of people whose lives andexamples stuck like cheat grass in my imagination.
6. Tell us about your writing process. How do you write?
Guest House changed my process. I didnt want early polishing or any stabat perfectionism at all, so I wrote the entire novel out longhand on wireboundlegal pads. After five or six chapters, Id type them up on a Selectrictypewriter with no correction ribbon. I let those sit while writing in the legalpad again. About halfway through the novel, I took the first few chapters andentered them in the computer. I frog-leaped my way like this till the end:hand write, type badly, type into computer. I finished the novel in fivemonths. The first draft felt molten and wonderfully raw.
7. Many creative types struggle with the balance of devoting time to their
8/9/2019 Interview All Things Girl
creativity and simply living life. Walk us through a typical day in the life ofyou
A typical year in the life of me is more to the point. I have always chosenprofessions that allow me three months off per year. Faith and patience getyou through the times when you are not writing. It has worked, though its
not ideal. I can do rewrites during the work seasons, but I mainly rely on thequiet and peace of untrammeled winter days.
8. In what ways did your childhood influence you as a writer? As a person?
I was left alone with my imagination. Books and empty fields raised me. Myfolks were tired of parenting by the time the last of five kids came around.Fields let you expand into adventures and books show you the essence of awriters character. Writers take character development very seriously! I waswell-met and well-mentored. My childhood has made me hold stubbornly tothe supreme value of emptiness.
9. Most writers are avid readers. What authors did you read as a child? Andtoday?
I adored Farley Mowatt, Marguerite Henry and Charlotte Bronte. My threefavorite novels over the last three decades have been Crossing to Safety byWallace Stegner, Cold Mountain by Charles Frasier and Wild Life by MollyGloss. All of them slayed me.
10. What question should we have asked, that we didnt?
Ive wracked my brain for the girliest thing in my life, as this isAll Things Girl.Geranium and Rosewood Face Mud must be it. A step above making mud