Anne Barwell on Writing, Characters and her new release One Word (Hidden Places #3) (author interview,excerpt and giveaway)


One Word (Hidden Places #3) by Anne Barwell
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art by

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Anne Barwell here today on her One Word tour.  Welcome, Anne, and thanks for answering some of our author questions for us.


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Anne Barwell

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for One Word, the 3rd book in my Hidden Places series from Dreamspinner Press.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Yes, definitely. When my brother and I were kids, my dad introduced us to the SF genre, and both of us were hooked very quickly. I still read a lot of SF, although I tend to drift more into fantasy these days because there is more of it about. It was the other way around then.  I write what I like to read, so a lot of my stories have SF or fantasy elements to them.  I also write historical although my interest in those didn’t come until later, although some of that was because of stories Dad told about family history.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’m happy with either.  I think some stories work well with a HEA, but some don’t.  With an MM historical a HEA is often not feasible, given the penalties for being found in a homosexual relationship.  Also, I think that often stories are a slice of someone’s life, so I like to think of the characters continuing their story after the final page of the book. Life doesn’t always tie everything up in a pretty bow, so stories shouldn’t always need to either.

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I didn’t read romances as a teenager, and only started reading them in recent years. I enjoy them, although I still tend to lean toward the genre romances such as SF, fantasy, historical etc. Sometimes, though, I just want something lighter and I have a few favourite authors I turn to for that.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Susan Cooper, who wrote the Dark is Rising fantasy series is a big influence. I blame her for my interest in fantasy and anything Arthurian.  Madeleine L’Engle is another. I love A Wrinkle in Time and the other books in that series, and the way her other books, although in another series, were connected and had characters in common.

More recently reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series inspired me to start writing again as an adult.  Tanya Huff is another one. They’re also both mainstream writers who have gay characters in their fiction.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Instead of a scene from the story, I like my covers to reflect elements of the story and its characters.  Most of the story in One Word takes place in a small English village hence the background on the cover.  The Morris Minor is Donovan’s pride and joy—and was also the car I learnt to drive in.  Ethan is a Maths and Science teacher, hence the mathematical equations as part of the background.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

That’s like trying to choose a favourite child.  One that will always stand out for me is Shadowboxing which is book 1 of my WWII Echoes Rising series. I’m proud of that story, and the series, and it was the first story I wrote that I knew was going to be a novel—it turned into a three book series.

  • If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I prefer my characters flawed, but in saying that I think they still need to be likeable.  If they have no redeemable features why would someone fall in love with them?  On the flip side, people aren’t perfect and I’d be very suspicious, and think a main character was unrealistic, if he or she was cheerful all the time and didn’t have the occasional bad mood. There are things in this life that would make anyone grumpy.  Ditto for someone who never makes mistakes—the saying comes to mind about not knowing that Mr. Right’s first name was Always.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write because I have characters who want their stories told. With life being a bit stressful at times, I enjoy being able to escape into another world, and giving these guys the happy endings they deserve. However, I do believe in making them work for that HFN or HEA.

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

My next book is called Prelude to Love and releases from Dreamspinner on 2nd January as part of their Dreamspun Desire range.  I loved writing this story as it’s set locally, plus one of the main characters is a music teacher so I didn’t need to do a lot of research.  Here’s the blurb:
Music speaks directly to the heart.


Two very different men face turning points in their lives after the collapse of long-term relationships….

Joel is a music teacher who knows it’s time to forget his ex and move on, while Marcus runs a lawn-mowing business and has come to Wellington to escape the reminders of a recent breakup. Although they’re opposites, when Joel and Marcus connect, their romance has the potential to hit all the right notes.


Too bad neither of them feels ready for new love.


With family and friends in common, dating is risky—things could get messy if it doesn’t work out. The sweet song of possibility draws them to each other, though, and they share a kiss following a Chopin prelude.  But it will take some practice and perseverance to find their perfect harmony….

Once my blog tour for One Word is finished, I’m getting back into writing The Harp and the Sea, which I’m co-writing with Lou Sylvre. It’s an historical with a dash of fantasy set in 1745 on the Isle of Skye.  While she’s writing her part of it, I’ll be working on A Sword to Rule which is the second and final book in my fantasy Dragons of Astria series.

One Word Blurb

A Hidden Places Story

Ethan Leavitt arrives in the idyllic village of Oakwood to search for a missing friend. Having always prided himself on his ability to find rational explanations, Ethan’s trust in concrete evidence and logic is tested by the mystery of Oakwood and Tomas’s disappearance.

Donovan Campbell’s happy, sometimes flippant, exterior hides a past he’d rather forget. As he struggles with his memories and to hold on to the inn he owns with his best friend, the last thing Donovan needs is for some guy he’s only just met to start getting under his skin. When a bank robbery escalates into a dangerous situation, Donovan must embrace a part of himself he can no longer ignore in order to save a future that might never have the chance to exist.

Ethan learns that often the person you’re looking for is not the one you find. But have he and Donovan both realized that too late…?


“If you want to talk anytime, I don’t mind listening.” Donovan glanced at the screen, then back to Ethan. Everyone else in the room was focused on the movie, and he’d kept his voice low so they wouldn’t be overheard. “Not now of course, but later.”

“I’m fine,” Ethan repeated. He edged toward the other end of the sofa, away from Donovan. “Thanks, though,” he added quickly. He did appreciate the offer, but it wasn’t a good idea.

“Time for a break,” Heidi announced, grabbing the remote and hitting Pause. “Doug and Mikey, come help me make drinks and bring in supper.”

“I don’t—” Mikey started to stay.

Doug cut him off. “I don’t know about you, Mikey, but one of the first things I learned about Heidi is that she means she really needs help but doesn’t want to admit it.” He winked at Mikey. “I’m sure Indy wouldn’t leave a lady in need to fend for herself.”

“Well, if you put it that way, I suppose.” Mikey got to his feet and followed Heidi out of the room. “Heidi, do you think Dad would mind if I texted him to see how Granddad is?”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t,” Heidi replied. “I think it’s a great idea.”

“Nice psychology there, Doug,” Ethan said. He didn’t think for a moment that Heidi needed the help, considering how organized she was.

“About as subtle as Heidi,” Donovan murmured. “The two of you are a match made in heaven, I swear.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my hearing either,” Doug said, although he didn’t sound offended by Donovan’s comment. “I’m going to help out in the kitchen.” He collected the empty popcorn bowl. “We’ll be at least five minutes.”

“Yeah, real subtle,” Donovan said.

“Huh?” Ethan wasn’t sure what Donovan was on about. “I think it’s sweet that Doug likes helping Heidi in the kitchen. A lot of guys don’t, and one person in the relationship gets to do all the work.”

Another mark against Duncan.

Perhaps the long walk Ethan had taken that morning hadn’t been such a great idea. It had given him too much time to think, and reflection wasn’t something he did well, especially of late.

“Yeah, he looks after her. I’d be having words with him if he didn’t.” Donovan cleared his throat. “You seem real distracted this evening, Ethan. Did something happen?”

“I’m not distracted,” Ethan said. “I’m enjoying the movie.”

The last part of what he’d said was true, at least. It appeared there was something to the genre Tomas had spent years trying to get him to read and watch after all.

“Uh-huh.” Donovan put his hands behind his head and leaned back on the sofa, keeping his tone casual. “That’s what all the stuff about helping out in the kitchen was about. Doug and Heidi are both good at reading people. You’ve gotten more and more distracted and agitated over the past twenty minutes or so. I bet if I asked you what was happening in the movie before Heidi hit Pause, you wouldn’t be able to tell me.”

“I know exactly what’s going on,” Ethan said indignantly. “And weren’t you supposed to be watching the movie instead of me? Can you tell me what happened in the last five minutes?”

“I’ve seen it before. I can quote this movie in my sleep, so answering that question isn’t going to prove anything.”

“So you admit you were watching me?”

Donovan blushed bright red. For a moment, he seemed flustered as hell. “Umm… I mean…. You’re changing the focus of this conversation onto me.”

“So?” Ethan brushed imaginary crumbs from his jeans. He sighed. As much as he thought Donovan looked hot—

No, not going there.

“Look, I’m sorry,” Ethan tried again. “I appreciate your concern, but it’s not something I want to talk about. With anyone.” He attempted an olive branch, not because he wanted to, but because…. The last thing he wanted was to upset anyone, and especially not Donovan.

“Don’t worry, it’s not about Tomas. If I’d heard something, I would have told you, okay? I know you’re concerned about him too.”

“Okay.” Donovan raised his arms in mock surrender. “I won’t ask about your crap if you don’t ask about mine.”

“I was only being concerned last night,” Ethan protested. Surely Donovan wasn’t going to bring that up now, after pretending it hadn’t existed all day?

“That’s all I’m doing now,” Donovan said softly. “Deal?”

“Oh.” Ethan ignored the way his cheeks flamed. Donovan had neatly turned Ethan’s indignation back on himself. “Point taken.” He took a deep breath, knowing he didn’t have any option but to agree. “Deal.”

Buy Link:


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You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

November 3 – Open Skye Book Reviews
November 6 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 6 – Top to Bottom Reviews
November 6 – Two Men Are Better Than One
November 6 – Gay Book Promotions
November 7 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
November 8 – Happily Ever After Chapter
November 9 – Love Bytes Reviews
November 10 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
November 10 – Nic Starr
November 13 – The Novel Approach Reviews
November 14 – Dreamspinner Press Blog
November 15 – Aisling Mancy

About the Author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

6 thoughts on “Anne Barwell on Writing, Characters and her new release One Word (Hidden Places #3) (author interview,excerpt and giveaway)

  1. Thanks again for hosting me! I enjoyed answering the interview questions 🙂


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