Interview with M.Q. Barber

playing the gameby Shelly

Hi Folks, I discovered MQ Barber’s work last year and since then I’m head over heads for her Neighborly Affection series. After a tad bit of stalking I got her to do an interview. Enjoy!

Shelly: Who’s your favorite author? What about your favorite menage story – that’s not your own of course?

M.Q.: The closest thing I have to a favorite author right now is probably fantasy writer Jim Butcher. He writes characters I get emotionally wrapped up in and stories with a lot of intrigue, action, and humor.

You’ll laugh, but I don’t have a favorite ménage story yet. I have a to-read list that gets longer every time I see a review or a recommendation for a book that sounds interesting.

Shelly: When I read the first book, I was shocked to find myself reading a story that included menage, BDSM etc – versus sex, BDSM with very little story. What kind of research did you do – don’t be shy, you can tell us if it was face to face?

M.Q.: I appreciate the permission, but you’re not really the person I’d need permission from to share intimate details, LOL.

Some of the story elements come from the adage that writers should write what they know – the apartment building and the suburban Boston neighborhood where Henry, Jay, and Alice live, for example, comes from having lived in the area myself.

Other things come from a mix of experience and research. Henry’s culinary skills, for example – I love to cook, but his menu choices are different from what mine would be, so if he’s serving a meal, researching recipes and setting the menu helps me determine how split his attention is and how he’s moving around the space.

I think attention to detail is a scaffold authors can build a story on. If the characters have a sturdy basis for their actions and motivation, the emotional integrity of the story is stronger.

Shelly: A lot of writers say that the stories and characters write themselves but who was the hardest character for you to write?

crossing the linesM.Q.: The characters do write themselves – or, at least, they banter in my head often, so the hardest part sometimes is keeping up with their dialog and capturing their voices on the page before they’ve passed me by.

The trick for me is not overwriting. Alice is a very analytical woman, so she’s constantly interpreting the words and actions of the people around her. Sometimes I have to work to rein her in and let Henry and Jay show themselves. With Jay, it’s fighting his urge to derail the story with antics. He’s a playful guy. With Henry, it’s listening closely to what he’s showing me with his behavior. His guiding hand is the subtle influence over the entire series, as you might expect for a dominant man, but he doesn’t always want Alice to realize it.

Shelly: I’m a big fan of stories that make sense, so if it doesn’t make sense to me then I just don’t like it. What made you decide to keep this story as a ‘this could be one of my neighbors’ versus what seems to be very popular right now – sex without plot?

M.Q.: It wasn’t so much a decision as a necessity for me. When I started writing the Neighborly Affection series, I was writing because the characters nagged at me. Henry, Jay, and Alice kept interrupting my life with their voices day and night. Eventually, I shared some scenes with a friend, and she wanted to read more.

I didn’t decide to become an author, study the popular trends, and sit down to write a book. I did the opposite: I wrote stories about characters I care about, I listened to friends’ advice to submit the books to a publisher, and now I’m still learning about the genres my writing falls into.

The sex in my stories will always be in service to the characters’ emotional journeys, because the stories I want to tell are about people. If you read the books and feel a “this could be one of my neighbors” realism from Henry, Jay, and Alice, then I feel I’ve done right by them.

Shelly: What can we expect from you next?

M.Q.: Henry, Jay, and Alice will feature in a third book, Healing the Wounds, which is scheduled for a June release.

Beyond that, I have a couple of finished manuscripts to submit to my publisher and I’m about three-quarters done writing my current work in progress. And after that, well, I have a pile of post-it notes clamoring for my attention. There’s never a shortage of characters nagging at me – just a shortage of time to write their stories, LOL.

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