Interview with Barbara Raffin

Barbara_FindingHome72dpi1500x2400Tell us about your current series.

The St. John Sibling Series is about four brothers and one sister who’ve been raised by loving parents in the unorthodox world of expats in Eastern Europe where their parents were American Embassy support staff. They go off into adulthood well-adapted and well-equipped to handle life, effectively making them the perfect mates for the conflicted people they fall in love with.

Taming Tess, a modern day Taming of the Shrew story, book 1 in the series, is full of verbal jousting between building contractor and ready for a family of his own Roman St. John and career focused Architect Tess Armstrong. Finding Home, Book 2, hints of the Wizard of Oz in that Sam Ryan, who’s been sent to dig up dirt on widow Dixie St. John so her father-in-law can take custody of her son, personifies the Tin Man who thought he lacked a heart but had one all along…as Dixie will teach him. Craving a Hero, book 3, brings together Michigan Game Warden Kelly Jackson who believes there are no heroes for her and Sexiest Action Movie star Dane St. John for whom everything has always come easy…until Kelly, fearing rejection, hides the fact she’s given birth to his daughter. It takes nearly losing his child and Kelly for Dane to fully understand what’s most precious to him.

Yet to come, Seeking Bliss, a departure from the straight contemporary romance of the first three books in the series as it adds in the kidnapping of writer Bliss O’Hara’s brother and former Navy SEAL Jake St. John’s finding his way back into civilization. Forever Knight follows baby brother Renn St. John into the world of dinner theater on the grand scale of a Medieval Joust. The carefree stunt rider is pitted against his boss’ daughter Gabriel de la Santo, an Olympic-level equestrian.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love brainstorming with other authors. Something magical happens when all that creative energy gets together. We feed off each other’s energy. It becomes a feeding frenzy of ideas.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Strangely, I seem to get my best stories from a setting. A favorite restaurant of mine that had been converted from a farmhouse inspired Finding Home. The spectacular fire of a local Victorian mansion which was being renovated sparked my idea for Taming Tess. I seem to get a feeling from the place or something that happened to/in the place that makes me ask how would this work as a backdrop for a romantic relationship story. What is its story? What kind of characters would live/work in this place? How does this building/setting affect my characters?

Was your road to publication fraught with peril or a walk in the park?

Definitely peril. When I was writing paranormal, none of the big publishers were buying them.  By the time I started writing lighter romance, the market wanted paranormal. Twice I was on the brink of a contract with major publishers. In one case, the editor pushing my work was fired and, in the other, the line I was under consideration for closed.

I even had a great relationship with one editor as she was rising through the ranks. Her company didn’t publish paranormal which is what I was writing when we first me, but she hung onto my manuscript, insisting “someday.” When “someday” came (five years later), the paranormal they wanted wasn’t the kind of paranormal I wrote.

When I jumped on the ebook bandwagon, hoping it was the next trend, my first publishing experience was wonderful because of the amazing company I’d signed with. They were enormously author friendly and I learned a lot about the business with them. Unfortunately, they eventually sold out to a larger epublisher and my sales dried up. I sold the book of my heart to one of the top epublishers only to have them change their bookstore to a cumbersome buying process that made it almost impossible for new readers to find my book. In fact, I think the only sales from that company were the print copies I hand sold.

My first publication with a small but major publisher was part of an anthology which never earned beyond the advance. The next major publisher to sign me put my book out in hardcover, but distributed to a limited audience and then they closed the line.

I’m currently trying out being an INDIE author. I like the control I have over the process. I have a fabulous cover artist, which I’m responsible for paying. And a good editor costs a lot. I’m thinking of exploring some small publishers.

Enough, I’m depressing myself revisiting all this. But it does make one point clear for anyone who wants to make a career out of writing. You need to persevere and you better love writing because sometimes that’s the only payout.

Do you have a view in your writing space?

What does your space look like?  My little office off my bedroom looks out over a wooded field where deer and bunnies and squirrels and turkeys play…when my dogs don’t chase them off.

Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?

My muse is schizophrenic. My early books were dark with gothic-like paranormal themes. I’ve written erotica (under another name). I’ve even published an American colonial historical. Currently, I’m writing the St. John Sibling series that has a lot of humor in it. But even within the series I’m having trouble keeping to a straight contemporary theme. I put out a spin-off friends series from the St. John Siblings series earlier this summer with a mystery in it and the 4th book in the Sibling Series is a mystery adventure which I refer to as Romancing the Stone meets Remington Steel. For those of you not old enough to remember that movie and series, the movie put a romance novelist in a South American jungle searching for her kidnapped sister and the series involved Pierce Brosnan (if you don’t know who he is, Google him) impersonating the series’ heroine’s fictitious boss. Both were fun.

What do you have planned for the future?

I’m dying to get to the FRIENDS spinoff series. I already did Saving Andi, a spinoff friend of Kelly, my forest ranger heroine in Craving a Hero who falls in love with Sexiest Action Movie Hero Dane St. John. But I’m itching to get to Brody, Roman St. John’s best friend from Taming Tess. Brody is such a tease and so sexy in spite of the fact he’s in a wheelchair. He has enlisted Roman the contractor and Tess the architect to help him renovate a lodge on a ski hill he wants to turn into a camp for handicapped kids. I’ve been interviewing heroines for him. She has to be able to see behind that sense of humor he uses as a shield. I’m also looking forward to researching the sex lives of paraplegics.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

At one point, when I was very young, I wanted to be a nun. But not being Catholic made that a problem. So, I just kept pretending I was a boy so I could do adventurous things like ride the rails. That last really tells us something about the mindset of a culture can limit a child’s thinking.  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? I didn’t always “know” I wanted to be an author. I just wrote a book when I was twelve because I loved the Black Stallion series but I wanted a horse series with a girl lead in it. When I was a high school freshman and had to fill out some school form, one of the questions was “what is your secret ambition?” I had never given secret ambitions a thought yet, without hesitation, I wrote “writer.” I guess I always subconsciously knew what I wanted to do.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?

I once got a rejection from a magazine I didn’t even know I’d submitted an article to. Then there was the phone call from an agent who gushed over my writing, telling me how I’d nailed my heroine. But, because of the subject matter, she couldn’t handle the book. I recently got a rejection on a full manuscript, the editor saying she really liked my writing and the story, but it didn’t fit her line. The odd part of this rejection was I had never sent a full manuscript to her, just a partial.


I chose to focus on Book 2 of the St. John Series, FINDING HOME, the sweetest story of the series. Finding Home Link

Finding Home was a finalist in AMAZON’S BREAKTHROUGH NOVEL AWARD and WRITE TOUCH READERS’ contests, & placed second as READERS’ CHOICE in BTS eMag RED CARPET REVIEW contest.

Dixie’s eyes cut to the garage door where his helmet and duffel lay. Damn, why hadn’t he just set the kid aside, shooed the dog off, and hopped onto his bike? Now he’d have to run the gauntlet of excuses why he couldn’t stay, none of which would be the truth…unless he confessed that he’d come here under Uncle Stuart’s orders…not to mention he was far too attracted to his cousin’s widow to be decent.

“I hope you were going to say good-bye before you left,” she said, her purr a tad sad.

“Sure. Of course.” He stared at the red toes of Dixie’s footwear—boots this time, which was about as close to looking her in the eye as he could manage. Maybe if she didn’t see into his eyes, she wouldn’t see the lie in him.

But the seconds stretched and he knew he hadn’t fooled Dixie Rae one iota. He shoved his hands into his pockets and confessed.

“I was sneaking off.”

“Poor Sam.”

He blinked at Dixie—gaped at her. Hardly the response he’d expected.

“You don’t need to sneak off from us, Sam.” She brushed at the dust on his sleeve. “You can come and go here as you please.” She turned his hand over, her fingers light on his wrist, her thumb soft against the grass stain on the heel of his hand.

If she kept touching him like that, his pleasure would all be in the staying. Was that her plan, entice him with provocative caresses?

One corner of her lips tugged further upward as though she knew her secret was out. “Just making sure I’m not sending you off with any of my gravel imbedded in your hand. Blame the mother in me.”

“The mother, huh?”

Her crooked smile stretched further still. “That’s what mothers do.”

“Not mine,” he answered without thinking.

The flirtatious curl of Dixie’s lips slipped and the message in her eyes couldn’t have been clearer if she’d said it aloud, poor Sam.

He should be disturbed by her pity. He should be so shamed by it that he couldn’t face her—that he’d all the more need to leave. But he couldn’t turn away, couldn’t stop exploring the sympathy in Dixie’s eyes. Suddenly he wasn’t so sure he wanted to leave the world of a woman who knew what it was like to be cast out by the Carringtons.

“You said the restaurant was closed Mondays,” he said. “So you won’t need a chef tomorrow.”

“I’ll have all day to talk Carl into coming back.”

He had no doubt she could talk any man into anything.

“Besides, I’ve already imposed on you enough,” she added.

“We already had this discussion,” he said, prolonging a conversation better ended. “I’m family, remember? Besides, it was fun.”

“Good.” Her lips curled into their seductive smile and her hand in his warm—comfortably so, invitingly so.

Ask me to stay.

“We’ll miss you, Sam.”


Award-Winning author Barbara Raffin has lived on the Michigan-Wisconsin border all her life. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she creates stories and adventures where she can explore her love of words and the human psyche. Whether a romantic romp or gothic-flavored suspense, her books have one common denominator: characters who are wounded, passionate, and searching for love.

Barbara will be appearing at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha November 7th on a Q&A panel about the romance genre.

Visit her at her website:

Or her blog: Barb’s Blog

Find her books at Barbara Raffin Books

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