Says Barbara Delnsky: "I was born and raised in suburban Boston. My mother's death, when I was eight, was the defining event of a childhood that was otherwise ordinary. I took piano lessons and flute lessons. I took ballroom dancing lessons. I went to summer camp through my fifteenth year (in Maine, which explains the setting of so many of my stories), then spent my sixteenth summer learning to type and to drive (two skills that have served me better than all of my other high school courses combined). I earned a B.A. in Psychology at Tufts University and an M.A. in Sociology at Boston College. The motivation behind the M.A. was sheer greed. My husband was just starting law school. We needed the money.
Oh. Oh. Back up. You'll love this. When I was in high school, I was kicked out of Honors English because I couldn't keep up! No, I never did go back to gloat. The truth is that though I came from a family of lawyers and never dreamed of publishing books, I did learn the basics of writing in high school, and, yeah, that skill has come in handy, too.
Following graduate school, I worked as a researcher with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and as a photographer and reporter for the Belmont Herald. I did the newspaper work after my first son was born. Since I was heavily into taking pictures of him, I worked for the paper to support that habit. Initially, I wrote only in a secondary capacity, to provide copy for the pictures I took. In time, I realized that I was better at writing than photography. I used both skills doing volunteer work for hospital groups, and have served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and on the MGH's Women's Cancer Advisory Board.
I became an actual writer by fluke. My twins were four when, by chance, I happened on a newspaper article profiling three female writers. Intrigued, I spent three months researching, plotting, and writing my own book and it sold.
My niche? I write about the emotional crises that we face in our lives. Readers identify with my characters. They know them. They are them. I'm an everyday woman writing about everyday people facing not-so-everyday challenges.
My novels are character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, and friendship, and I've been blessed in having readers who buy them eagerly enough to put them on the major bestseller lists. My latest, Escape, is a 2011 publication. Sweet Salt Air, my first novel with St. Martin's Press, will debut on June 18, 2013.
Barbara Delinsky's website
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An Interview with Barbara Delinsky about While My Sister Sleeps
While My Sister Sleeps portrays a family facing a tragic turning
point. Was the writing process different for you this time, or do you follow the
same approach with every manuscript?
The writing process rarely changes. It entails developing a concept into a plot, fleshing out characters, doing research, and writing for long hours each day. That said, each book of mine involves very different emotional issues. In the case of While My Sister Sleeps, the issues of responsibility, family love, and letting go were particularly vivid. I lived for nine months with the high emotions that the Snow family experienced in a week. As draining as that was for me, I am thrilled with the outcome.
Like many of the families in your books, the Snows have a complex way of coping. Do you have siblings? If so, how did those relationships compare to Molly and Robin's?
I was a middle child. With sisters above and below, I know of sibling rivalry and have often written about it. None of us were stars as Robin was, and we had no family business. But we were as different from each other as Molly and Robin were, and we vied for our ...
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