Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interview: Holly Barbo, author of The Sage Seed Chronicles: The Unraveling

Author Bio: "Holly Barbo’s world is shaped by her love of her family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. When she is not writing she is happily working beside her husband of thirty-six years building custom furniture.

She has currently completed four books in The Sage Seed Chronicles series. The first one (The Unraveling) has just come out as an ebook. A paper edition will be formatted before December and can be purchased from the publisher: Red Willow Press."

What inspires your stories?

I live in a very beautiful spot in Washington State. The scenery’s incredible with a rich abundance of wildlife. This is so special and soothing that it feels like a quiet kind of magic. I’m drawn to creating stories where there is just a bit of something unworldly. Perhaps it is magic or psychic skills. They are mostly in non urban settings and usually have some kind of wildlife. I also like to escape when I read so I create the discordant drama inside the peaceful frame.

What genre do you gravitate toward and why?

I’m an eclectic reader. Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction, Patricia McKillip’s fantasy are mixed with several murder, suspense and mystery authors. So when I write I tend to blur the edges of some genres by mixing element together. Because I like to be transported to another place when I read, I tend to write in the science fiction and fantasy area. Creating my own world is both complex and very satisfying. Usually I tell people that I don’t have monsters in my stories as people can be monstrous enough. Perhaps I should qualify that statement by saying that I do stretch my wildlife just a bit beyond what we know here.

What are your work habits like?

Like many authors I have a day job. The interesting thing is that I am self employed. It’s a creative life. There are times when I am doing something that doesn’t require my whole brain. Then I am usually mentally working on my plot. I can have my laptop in the shop with me and take moments to write while some project is drying. In the evening I write while the plot flows out of my finger tips. I, pretty much, hit the ground running and go full tilt all day until around nine at night. Then I fold.

What do you consider your best work?

Hmm. Best? I’m not sure if I am qualified to answer that as I am too close to my work, but I can tell you that my favorite books in the series are: “The Unraveling” and it’s sequel “The Reweaving” because of the characters. I’m very fond of Erin and her companions. Erin started as a frightened girl and developed into a strong young woman who confidently faced down her fears and earned the respect of others. Her companions are multi faceted and I delighted in their depth. I particularly like Tempo.

Do you plot out your novels in advance or do you write on the fly?

A little of both. Wait a minute. Let me check the definition of terms. If you mean by “plot out”, do I write a synopsis and follow it in my writing? I didn’t know that was what I was “suppose” to do until I was querying for an agent earlier this year. A good percentage of “The Unraveling” happened outside of myself. It literally flowed out of my fingertips. I finally managed to take back the reins by the end of the book. The subsequent books were more under my control and I wrote as the story developed but had a plot line in my head as a structure.

What experience do you want for your readers?

I would like them to be sucked into the story, experiencing this unique world and holding their breath as Erin’s life is imperiled. I want them to be captivated by each of her companions and to care about the planetary danger that “the seeker’s” actions have set up. I want it to be a page turner.

Are any of your character traits or settings based on real life?

Yes. There are bits and pieces of my life in the book. The “Wise Woman”, Ree, is loosely based on my Grandmother Chérie as is her home, the cabin on the bend on the river. Washington State has a diverse topography from semi arid to temperate rainforest. The planet Ose’s land mass has many of those same elements. I once had a pet skunk. I know the idiosyncrasies of the little animals and Tempo was based on that knowledge. The rest are blends of personalities or snatches of experiences from my past.

What are your most significant challenges when you write?

When the story is happening I am challenged to type fast enough. I know that sounds funny but I type with two or three fingers. I have written these books while working doing something else. I haven’t ever had uninterrupted time to write. I’ve adapted by using the time away from the keyboard to “brew” the story.

What are you currently working on?

I left a “loose thread” in the Sage Seed series and I have been stewing on that fifth book but I have been working on a new book “The Sun Stone”. It is unrelated to these stories.

Do you have any writing advice you would like to share with aspiring authors?

I can only speak from my perspective. I’m not an expert by a long stretch. My advice? Write with passion about something you are really interested in. Go with the flow. Write from a stream of consciousness as you are composing the story. You can always go back and smooth it, filling in or deleting as you work. Don’t let that job get away from you but rework what you have written one chapter at a time. Develop your complexities down through the sub plots and back story and liberally sprinkle in the imagery gems that enrich the picture. Keep writing.

The Sage Seed Chronicles, The Unraveling

Erin’s parents have been murdered. Breaking through her grief is the awareness of unusual abilities that she has never had before. She can now communicate with animals! What grips her attention, though, is the malevolent energy she can sense seeking her to kill her also! As she frantically eludes the killer she concentrates on the deadly questions she has to solve: Who murdered her parents, why and why are they trying to kill her too. So focused is she that the quakes and storms don’t at first elicit any more than a “Oh Scrum!” Erin doesn’t realize until much later that the quakes are related to the deaths and things are getting worse as more murders occur! The fabric of her world is literally unraveling!

Erin is a young woman who faces the danger she is in, on her own terms. She cuts off her hair and hides herself, in plain sight, as a scruffy boy, taking a job on the guild caravan as it winds through the realm. Her wild companions, a falcon, a skunk and an owl are indispensable on her quest, as is Lor, the glow stone guild member. He is also one of the few, like Erin, who carry the sage seed and has secret unique talents.

Available at

Apple iBook store



Barnes & Noble

The website for the series is HERE and you can find Holly on Twitter - @sageseedseries

The sequel, The Reweaving, is coming soon.

Thank you for interviewing, Holly! - LR


  1. I know what you mean by "write with passion..." I figure if I get bored with what I am writing my readers will as well. So "write with Passion" and it will bleed through!

  2. Absolutely! An excellent point. Doing things with passion enriches the experience and separates us from the mundane.

  3. A lovely blog post, Holly. I'm currently reading The Sage Seed Chronicles and enjoying Ree's journey. I can't believe you owned a skunk! Ownership of my rabbit pales in comparison.