Barbara Winkes - Undercover

Barbara Winkes: oops, hi! I went into the wrong room a second ago.

Reader 1: You found your way, it’s all good!

How are you?

Barbara Winkes: Very good, now that I'm here, thank you! And thank you for having me today.

Reader 2: Exciting!

Reader 1: Little bit of housekeeping, if you’re new to Slack - the discussion tends to be readers asking the author questions. You can either just reply right here like we’re doing now, or you can hover over the question (or tap if you’re on mobile) and click the Reply in Thread button that looks like a speech bubble and answer that way

And if you have any questions for us, feel free

Barbara Winkes: Thanks! I'll try to remember all the options. I'm on my laptop right now.

Reader 3: Just swinging in to say I read it and fantastic book!! Unfortunately I'm stuck doing schoolwork all day so won't be able to interact. Enjoy the chat and I'll read it all later!

Reader 1: Ah darn, we’ll miss you!

Barbara Winkes: Thank you so much! And if you have any questions, you can always find me on social media.

Reader 1: It’s pretty low-key so however you want is fine

I will ask my customary before-book-club question - anybody got anything interesting they’re eating/drinking during the chat?

I’ve been enjoying a cinnamon-cardamom tea lately

Barbara Winkes: Just water for me now, but my wife is making cookies, so that might be an option later

Reader 1: Yum, what kind?

Barbara Winkes: oats/cranberries and white chocolate

Reader 1: Ooh, sounds really good!

Barbara Winkes: It's a great base recipe and you can basically add whatever you like. We're a no-raisins household.

Reader 1: Oatmeal raisin cookies is pretty much the only thing I will accept raisins in

Barbara Winkes: We try to avoid them whenever we can

Reader 2: Sounds delicious.

Barbara Winkes: They are.

Reader 4: Hi all. Still coming down from T-Day. Was a great book through

Barbara Winkes: Thank you! Hope you've had some great food!

Reader 1: Hi [Reader 4], welcome!

Slack has taken away my ability to see how many people are online, but we shall assume people are trickling in. Let’s get started

What did everyone think of Undercover?

Reader 5: Love it

Reader 4: Im eating leftover sweet potato with cranberry chutney and sour cream. Thanks to the New York Times recipe!

Reader 2: What was the hardest part of the book to write?

How did you plot this one out?

Barbara Winkes: Probably the hardest part was to find an angle to get it out of my head and onto the page! I had a few ideas for scenes I kept playing around with. At first, it was meant to be a standalone with a working title called "Princess." From there, it morphed into a trilogy, and once I started writing, the rest fell pretty much into place.

I always start with a rough outline and go into more detail along the way.

Reader 2: How did you decide what scenes stayed / went in what order?

Reader 4: Do you map out the characters first or do they arise as you go

Barbara Winkes: I knew that it would come to a point where Kendall would take Robyn away, partly because she was trying to protect her, but things wouldn't go as planned, and the story had to lead up to that.

The characters always come first, but they to develop along the way. And the different storylines in 2 & 3 came a bit later.

But I wrote all books before I published the first one, so there was time to decide what to keep and what to cut from the entire arc.

Reader 1: I’m glad it became a trilogy - I only had time to read book 1 for this chat, but their relationship is developing really well, I like the slow burn element paired with enemies to lovers

Barbara Winkes: Thank you! It was one of the first times for me to write enemies to lovers, and I really enjoyed it. Given the nature of their relationship, I thought it needed a bit more time, and room for surprises.

Reader 4: I think it was an excellent to go for more than one book. I wanted an HEA ending and didn’t see how that was going to happen in this book!

Barbara Winkes: 1 & 2 end on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I had to make sure they all came out within a reasonable time.

I agree, in the first book it would have been too early! And I always want happy endings for my characters, so I had no choice.

Reader 1: Was it difficult to hold onto book 1 while you wrote the other 2 and not just publish it?

Barbara Winkes: Actually, not too much. I wrote them one after the other, same with editing, so it wasn't too long.

Reader 4: Wonderful!

Reader 1: What are your favorite genres or types of book to read when you’re not writing?

Barbara Winkes: Most of the time, I go for suspense/thrillers with a romantic element (that has been the case for a long time ), but I've also been reading a bit more romance this year.

Reader 2: Where do your plotlines come from?

Reader 4: How do you develop such evil characters that blind side one another and the good guy also?

Barbara Winkes: I don't know, a lifetime of reading thrillers maybe But I also get frustrated at the world and politics in general sometimes, and that can translate into a plot and characters.

Reader 2: Right back at you sister. The politics get me really frustrated1

Reader 1: Good source of catharsis, writing it into a book, tho

Reader 4: Too bad I can’t write but before winter hit this year I was taking it out on my trees and bushes in my backyard!

Reader 1: Haha that works too - RIP landscaping

Reader 5: Whose your favorite author you always come back to?

Barbara Winkes: There are a few series that I keep coming back to, like Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles series, or Kimberly Amato's Jasmine Steele. I have Millennium #6 and Cara's Fox County on my list. Usually, it's the genre I keep coming back to.

Reader 4:

Reader 5: Yes! Anything Cara is my comfort read! From all 3/4 of her pen names lol

Barbara Winkes: Anything! Something I've seen/heard somewhere, headlines, memories etc. And I've liked this idea of two people being on opposite sides of the law for this one.

Cara Malone: I don’t think [Reader 6] is available today, but they always come up with a creative question. I don’t think I can make a [Reader 6]-level question, but I’ll try my hand anyway…

If you were told tomorrow you couldn’t write anymore, what hobby or creative endeavor would you choose to replace it, and do you think you’d be good at it?

Reader 2: Sorry, I'm in and out because a friend broke her foot. Yay, urgent care.

Reader 1: Oh, ouch!

Barbara Winkes: Sorry to hear that! Hope they won't have to wait too long!

Oh, that would be rough! I've tried to take a break before and forgotten that I want to, wrote anyway, so...I always wanted to try painting, but I don't think I'd be good at it. And writing requires less room....but I'd still like to try someday.

Reader 2:

Reader 1: Never thought about that before - it’s a very low-resource craft

I mean, until you get to the point where you need publishing software

Are you a Word person, Scrivener, dictation?

Barbara Winkes: The easier the better. Word does it for me.

But even that doesn't take extra room, like canvases, colors etc. Though my notes can be all over the places sometimes

Reader 5: How did you get the idea for the Amnesia Project?

Barbara Winkes: My wife and I went to NYC with her parents. We had a really great time there. One day we were walking past a place where people were waiting for/boarding busses. Lots of people. It was pretty hot that day too, and for some reason the thought popped into my head that it would be easy to lose someone in the crowd...Let's just say I easily go to worst-case-scenarioes.

That was summer 2015. I was writing notes for another book on the way and came home with this idea.

Reader 5: Love it!

Reader 1: Ooh, the description had me at ‘dystopian twist’. Here’s the link in case anybody wants to pick it up:

Barbara Winkes: Thank you! I've been told it's scary, but I always feel better when I put these subjects into words. They feel a bit more contained that way…

Reader 4: Contained and real!

Barbara Winkes: Yes, absolutely! Sometimes I thought I went a little overboard, but it seems like these days, nothing is impossible or unthinkable.

Reader 1: It’s so true! There is nothing stranger than fiction anymore

Reader 4: Oh so true. There seem to be no limits any more.

Barbara Winkes: This is also why I was happy to publish the trilogy this year. It feels like whenever I touch on politics a bit more, I need to re-write it a few weeks after. These books are more focused on the love story and there's nothing much that dates them, I think.

Reader 1: I agree, Undercover doesn’t read like it’s in any very specific time period

Did you have to do a lot of research on the FBI, going undercover, mob operations to write it?

Reader 4: I am watching a show on PBS and it is about the Italian mob back in the 60’s and wow nothing is sacred in the show. They kill any one who doesn’t agree with them or is not loyal.

Barbara Winkes: Oh, I'm sorry if there were spoilers in here. I'll keep to the question - yes, but the focus was really on the love story this time as opposed to some of my thrillers. And I needed Kendall to be at least a bit redeemable

So it's only the "real" bad guys who kill

Reader 4: I was just saying your portrayal of the mob family is spot on with this series which is based in fact but names and places changed.

Barbara Winkes: Thank you! I also found an interesting site on terminology. And I thought it was fun to juxtapose Kendall's upbringing with the context Robyn grew up in, her father being FBI, her family also putting expectations on her.

How they both handle this situation.

Reader 1: I liked being able to hear Kendall’s thoughts - I’ve watched fictional mob TV shows/movies but you rarely get to feel like you’re inside a character’s head on TV. That kind of family/social situation must be so stressful and unpleasant

Barbara Winkes: When I saw how many M/F mafia romances exist, I wanted to try out this dynamic, but in sapphic. And it's usually written in 1st person. I did that with The Amnesia Project too, and a few others. I'm comfortable with it, and once I had decided on it, the story came together faster.

I even wrote the blurb in 1st person. I think that gets you right into a character's mindset

Reader 4: I think that is what through me initially. I dont read many stories that are written in first person , I guess

Barbara Winkes: 3rd person is probably a lot more prevalent, and I think we're more used to it maybe? I've always enjoyed both, but I've done 3rd more often.

Reader 1: It’s definitely less common than third in sapphic fiction, but it’s out there. And it does give you a deeper insight into the characters

We’re at the top of the hour, anybody have any questions they haven’t gotten to ask yet?

Barbara Winkes: Yes, anything you really want to know?

Reader 1: Or just appreciation for Barbara, Kendall and Robyn

Thanks so much for joining us!

Barbara Winkes: Thanks for having me! And thanks for doing this in a format that's perfect for introvert writers!

Reader 1: Oh yeah, no video here

Barbara Winkes: We love talking about our characters, but showing up on video is always really tricky.

Reader 4: Thanks for letting us grill you and for giving up an hour away from the turkey sandwich you are dreamining of

Barbara Winkes: Well, I'm Canadian so Thanksgiving was a while ago, though we did have a rather typical Thanksgiving dinner yesterday - including turkey of which we brought home leftovers, so you're not too far off!

And it was my pleasure.

Reader 1: Two Thanksgivings is better than one in my book

Enjoy your cookies!

Barbara Winkes: Thank you! And you all have a great rest of the day!