Prologue from the author: You said not to use a bunch of stuff. Sorry – that’s all I write about. I produce flaming salsa, not cottage cheese. My readers are highly intelligent, well-read, have tough skins and nutty senses of humor. I warn off children – though I tell them they’ll be ready around 18 – and those with delicate brains. If you like fluff or pulled punches – RUN.
Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Donna Barr. I have been in drawn books as a published artist/writer since 1986. I have a worldwide readership for my books, most of it for my drawn book series The Desert Peach, and Stinz. I’ll just use those two as an example for this interview.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
The Desert Peach is historical fiction. It is the story of Field Marshal Rommel’s gay brother. Rommel had a gay brother, but for the purposes of the novel, I have borrowed the younger brother who died in infancy, and grown him up. My deep research into the Third Reich makes me end up sounding like the Germans, screaming warnings at everybody not to do it again.
Stinz is historical fantasy. Set in a world that looks like 19th-century Central Europe, it is the story of a well-to-do centaur farmer, who served in his country’s war as the only centaur ever drafted. He is Catholic, because I was raised in that religion, and it informs many of his decisions. I am now Recovering Catholic, so it’s pretty funny.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I am a fiercely political writer. How can I help be? Politics is everything, from what we eat to how we move around the planet.
How do you deal with creative block?
The best way is to get a Patreon account and know I have to pop up developmental work every day, for my patrons – and no one else – to see.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Listen to an editor who thinks he’s an author.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I create my own.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I put the authors in my books as characters, and they become my fans. Sometimes a bad review is based on ignorance. One bad review turned into a good one after, in the course of an email correspondence, the reviewer realized he was homophobic. He immediately wrote and posted a glowing review. It’s not uncommon for my work to open hearts. People have been comforted by reading my books in everything from coming out to dealing with the death of a father.
How has your creation process improved over time?
It’s pretty much the same. Write stuff, draw stuff, get it published. Ignore how much I hate it. 10 years from now I will think it’s genius, and wonder why I’m sliding.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The logo fell off. Story here: http://donnabarr.blogspot.com/2019/08/if-your-fans-are-happy.html
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
My characters wake me up at night telling me how they will die. I tell them my readers are going to kill me. Do they care? They drink all the beer in my refrigerator. I’m just management.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I don’t understand this question. That’s like saying “what role does breathing play in football?” I think.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I listen to bad books on tape while inking.
What are your plans for future books?
The Bethlehem story. I am having so much fun discovering the insane tribal politics in that saga. It is going to be hilarious.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I have field stripped and polished to brightness a stolen presentation brass Gatling gun. I am probably the only Army Teletype writer you will ever meet; there weren’t many of us.