Interview with Barbara Phinney

How did you get started writing?

I started writing after I retired from the military, just as a creative outlet. My kids were small, so I started to record their antics. That kept me plenty busy!


What inspired your latest book?

My latest book, Hard Target, was inspired by two things. My mission trips to Bolivia inspired the setting, but my friend, a military policewoman, worked at an embassy in South America, and was kind enough to share some details with me. Her work inspired me to create a military policewoman as my heroine.


What is your typical day like?

My typical day, when I don’t volunteer at the local school, consists of my hubby bringing me coffee in bed before he leaves for work. (It’s true and it’s wonderful!) and then during breakfast, I answer emails and then begin my writing. I break at lunch and do some housework, then back at it for an hour, then finish up with more housework.  Not too much, as it gets in the way of writing. <G>


How has your experience with self-publishing been?

My experience has pretty much been middle of the road. I had terrible sales at the beginning and have learned to promote my work through Twitter, reviews, blogs and getting good covers and a beta reader to find all the mistakes. I have been steadily improving in sales but always keep upbeat, no matter what happens.


What is your favorite dessert/food?

My favourite food is shepherd’s pie, and for dessert, custard tarts. I’d be 500 pounds if allowed to eat them. That’s how much I love them. On a similar note, I dislike olives and cucumbers, but eat pickles and olive oil. Go figure.


Give us an elevator pitch for your book.

Hard Target is the term used for a military target. That’s what my heroine is, and she’ll do anything to keep her embassy safe. Then, ‘Anything’ showed up at her work one day.


Do you have a view in your writing space?  What does your space look like?

My office window looks out at my front yard, with Austrian pines and a barley field beyond. It catches the morning sun and is very peaceful.


Tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.

Hard Target is an espionage suspense set in Bolivia. It’s sweet only in that it isn’t sexy. But it’s gritty, and loads all the senses with the sights and sounds and smells of Cochabamba and the Andes.  I have been there twice and loved it. It’s not easy to live there, but missionary work is simply one of the more rewarding experiences a person can have. Just going and helping someone less fortunate is such a blessing to a life.

Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?

I finished a TON of books before I published. I had no support network, nor anyone to tell me about my writing. I was really writing blind and learned everything the hard way. So any of your readers who want to start to write should find an organization like Romance Writers of America, and a local chapter, plus some on line friends. There are also many freelance editors out there who are worth their weight in gold.  Use them.

I recently received back the rights to my first book, All For A Good Cause, and revamped it and made a great cover for it, too. So, writers, always look for ways to get your older stories back up there.

Thank you Cynthia for hosting me! You rock!  




Chapter One

The bomb exploded at precisely six-oh-four in the morning. Its blast rocked through Sergeant Dawna Atkinson’s beat-up Fiat just as she entered the city’s largest square. Ahead, despite the early hour, the block hummed with people, people who were not all running away from the old school which housed the embassy.

No, a few were running toward the large building.

Her grip tight on the steering wheel, Dawna shook her head. Those civilians were either incredibly foolish or incredibly brave.

Or members of a drug cartel determined to undermine the strengthening democracy here in Bolivia. They’d already ruined the capital of La Paz for many foreign nationals and displaced ambassadors to other cities like Cochabamba.

She gritted her teeth. Tramping her foot down on the accelerator, she darted into the early morning traffic, now thick with post-explosion chaos.

Smoke spewed into the smoggy morning sky in a single, ugly belch, its source a black burning mound in front of the doors that led into the embassy’s enclosed courtyard. Snapping her attention back to her driving, Dawna steered the car into a narrow alley across the square from the embassy and leapt out. No time for her locking bar, normally a must in most South American cities. With any luck, someone would steal the old rust bucket and inherit all of its mechanical woes.

She threaded through the noisy crowd, her long, quick strides carrying her over the numerous cracks in the sidewalk that sliced through the park-like square. Loud Spanish voices bounced around her as she hurried past the white monument of some long-dead dignitary on horseback. Already, the acrid smell of burning metal and ancient building materials penetrated the growing warmth of the early July morning.

She pushed past an old native man, who coughed out something in Spanish. Charging through the rest of the square, she reached the area in front of the embassy.  There, she stopped Miguel Ramos, one of the vigilantes, a security guard, just as he raced away from the small door that led to the courtyard, the one used for foot traffic only. He’d worked the night shift and must have been leaving when the blast occurred. Surely he would know something.

“What happened?” she called out over the wail of approaching sirens. Her lungs tightened, reminding her that the air up here in the Andes was still too thin for her.

“A bomb, Sergeant,” Ramos panted, his lined features slack with horror. “Outside, at the front entrance.” His panicked gaze searched the noisy crowd, fast and needy, seeking something.

She grabbed his elbow. “Anyone hurt? Where’s the Ambassador?” Please God, let him still be at home. Last night, along with the Ambassador and his family, she’d attended a small private function at the far end of the city. They hadn’t left until after midnight.

Please God, let him still be asleep. Let today not be one of the days when he felt compelled to come to work early.

“The Ambassador is not here, Sergeant,” Ramos cut into her thoughts with sharp, accented English as he brushed himself off. “Very few people here. I don’t think anyone was hurt.”

Dawna sagged. Thank you, God. She wasn’t three weeks into her new assignment as Military Security Guard, not counting the few months supervising the installation of the security system, hiring her staff and preparing for the Ambassador’s arrival. Bolivia had a long and healthy relationship with Canada. She aimed to do her part to keep it that way. And, blast it, this was her chance to prove to her home unit that she was one of the best, despite the black mark on her record.

Someone shouldered her to one side. She spun, prepared to shove back, to stop whoever was invading her embassy, but caught her action in time to see a firefighter hauling a hose toward the smoke in front of the entrance.  The swarthy man barked out orders in Spanish. Behind him, a battle-scarred fire truck was still heaving to a stop.

Several more firefighters trotted in behind the first one. She turned to Ramos. “Is the embassy empty?”

“No, Sergeant. We have two vigilantes inside.”

“I want one of them armed and guarding the firefighters out here,” she ordered, pointing to the front facade. “And the other to do the same on the inside. Secure the rear door and arm yourself as well. I need you with me.” Dawna glared at the firefighters. Though not her job to order them around, she wouldn’t let them take over, either. One of them could easily be responsible for this blast, and right now could be preparing to storm the embassy. The Bolivian government had cracked down on drug trafficking, and several cartels had warned that they would punish countries interfering with their illegal trade.

With Ramos hurrying to obey her, Dawna turned the other way. A barrel-chested policeman, dressed in fatigues, herded the crowd back, as her gaze journeyed around the square with methodical precision.

Then it stalled. From the direction she’d come five short minutes earlier, a large SUV loomed. Her patience drained away as she recognized the wide vehicle. The Ambassador. Of course he’d come at the first hint of trouble.


Barbara Phinney retired from the military to raise her two children and soon turned her creativity toward writing. That’s when she asked herself, what was the hardest genre to write? Romance. Nearly twenty years later, she’s published in that genre, going on to final in several contests and take the plunge into the self-publishing pool, with Souvenirs, set in the shadow of the bridge to Prince Edward Island, on the warm beaches that inspire her. Barbara lives in Eastern Canada with her husband, several barn cats and some chickens. Her own brood has flown the coop.



 Hard Target

Deadly Trust

Silent Protector (Love Inspired Suspense)

Fatal Secrets (Love Inspired Suspense)

Deadly Homecoming (Love Inspired Suspense)

Keeping Her Safe (Love Inspired Suspense)

Desperate Rescue (Love Inspired Suspense)

Necessary Secrets (Silhouette Intimate Moments)

Trust No One (Silhouette Intimate Moments)

All For A Good Cause


17 thoughts on “Interview with Barbara Phinney

  1. Great interview, great excerpt. Thanks for sharing your journey. Hey, I love custard tarts too. It’s so nice to find someone else who’s a huge fan. Most of my friends think they’re bland and horrible. They obviously have terrible taste, at least in desserts.

  2. Wow, what a life, hubby brings coffee in bed, lol. Really enjoyed the interview, and continued success to you! BTW, I have a book called Trust No One coming out soon. 🙂

  3. Great interview! I need to train my dogs to bring me tea in bed instead of just waking me up. 🙂 You’re a great writer, Barbara, and I look forward to reading more of your work.

  4. Nice interview. Loved your first chapter, Barbara. I think Hard Target is on my TBR pile. Guess I’ll have to pull it out and read it now that I’m hooked! I’m telling my husband about your husband. Maybe it’ll inspire him!

  5. Lovely interview, ladies. And Barbara, I’m very jealous of that coffee in bed. But seeing as I’m up a full hour before anyone else in my household, I don’t think I’m ever going to get it! Loved re-reading that excerpt from Hard Target too! What a wonderful atmospheric RS!

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