The Protagonist: Barbara Longley on Writing in Niche “Contemporary and Paranormal Romance”

Written by Alissa Fleck on . Posted in NY Press Exclusive.


Minnesota-based author Barbara Longley writes contemporary and paranormal romance. “I can see the eye-rolling,” she says, but “good writing is good writing, and every great story involves a romance.” Longley’s website describes her work as “Romance with a touch of Celtic magic.”

What does romance mean to Longley? “Romance is the guarantee of a satisfying resolution to whatever conflict keeps a hero and heroine apart, or a hero and hero, or a heroine and heroine for that matter,” she writes in her blog, Longley’s Litany. 

Longley draws a line between her “real” life and her fantasy life. In real life, she teaches elementary education and gets puked on by children. In her fantasy life, Longley “spend[s] a lot of time in [her] head with people who don’t really exist.”

“I have a very rich fantasy life, and no real social life,” says Longley. “It gets…confusing.” Sometimes Longley will go days without talking to a person who doesn’t live in her head, but she doesn’t mind. In fact, sometimes she prefers it this way.

In her real life, Longley has also lived on an Appalachian commune, enjoys watching rodeo, cooks, teaches herself about String Theory and reads the endings of books first. She’s also creating her own dictionary and wants to learn to ride a motorcycle.

It’s notoriously difficult to break into the world of professional writing these days, but Longley, who has been writing with an eye toward publication for six years, did it in a matter of weeks. “Two percent inspiration and 98 percent perspiration…or something like that,” says Longley.

Despite her success, Longley explains publishing houses are not as willing today to take chances on new authors. However, the industry is changing quickly and there are more options than ever — including self-publishing — for emerging writers.

Longley’s first book Heart of the Druid Laird was just released as an ebook in 2011. According to Longley, “It’s a curse/quest journey of redemption tale, involving immortals and faeries.”

Actually, she confesses, she wiped her real first book from her hard drive awhile ago. “It will never see the light of day,” said Longley in our interview. “Never.” She has written five novels in total.

While there is a widespread conception romance novels are for women — with some going so far as to call them “porn for women,” particularly since the release of erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey — Longley is quick not to stereotype her fans.

“One of my biggest fans is a trucker,” she said. “He loves action/adventure stories, and my paranormals have a lot of that.” According to Longley, a surprising number of men read romance novels. Otherwise, she places her target demographic in the range of 18 to 115-years-old.

While much about Longley’s life may seem nontraditional, or “paranormal” even, her approach to her career is simple.

“I write the stories I want to read, and I get very involved with my characters. It’s like meditation,” said Longley. “Yeah, it’s cool to see my books in print with cool covers and stuff, but for me, it’s the writing, and when it stops being about the writing, it’s time for me to move on to something else.”

All Longley’s books are available on Amazon.com.

By Alissa Fleck 

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  • http://twitter.com/barbaralongley Barbara Longley

    Ummm. Yeah. It kinda sounds like it only took me a matter of weeks to get published, like I wrote a book in ten days and had a contract in fourteen. Oh, wouldn’t that be saweet? Back when I started writing seriously, I set a goal for myself to *be* published within 5 years. I made that goal within a couple of weeks of the deadline. That’s all. And, my contemporary stuff doesn’t have any magic in it other than the most powerful force in the world: Love. (Oh, I see eyes rolling again…)

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