Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing professionally for almost twenty-five years, publishing articles and short stories in various magazines and anthologies. The author of three books and a poetry chapbook, Ms. Barnhill enjoys writing in a variety of genres. She also loves to tickle the ivories, play bridge and most especially, assume her role as the superhero Bottom Woman, a game she plays with her 5-year-old grandson.
Welcome Anne! Here at the ball we’ve heard great things about her debut novel, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN. This historical fiction takes place at the court of Henry VIII and involves one of Barnhill’s ancestors, Lady Margaret Shelton, one of three named mistresses of the king. Diane Haeger, author of The Secret Bride, calls this book “an absolutely splendid read.”
Anne’s poetry chapbook, COAL, BABY, was also released in 2012 from Finishing Line Press. Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek says, “There is a wonderful, hard-won, sometimes painful, sometimes celebratory sense of home here, which you will not soon forget.”
Welcome Anne! Talk about one thing that is making you happy right now.
This is an easy question to answer because just about everything makes me happy these
days-the perfect roundness of the full moon; bare, inky limbs against the November
sky; the sound of birds and squirrels rustling in the leaves; the wind on my face. I am
especially happy that after ten months of grueling treatment for cancer, my body is
regaining strength and my spirit is beginning to hope again, to believe in the deep-down
goodness of this precious life I have. My family, despite all the complexities and conflict
that word implies, brings me tremendous joy, as do my friends. I have been blessed to
receive much love and encouragement from so many people. Now, I want to drink all the
juice of life—just drain the cup!
Where do you love to be?
I feel most at peace when I’m anywhere in the Appalachian Mountains. I grew up in
West Virginia and they had a saying—you can take the girl out of the mountains but you
can’t take the mountains out of the girl. It’s true! When I visit my son in Asheville, NC,
my heart lifts at the first sight of rising land. My eyes trace and retrace the rolling hills
against the horizon. I never tire of it. I feel safe there and close to the Divine. My dream
is to have a cabin in the mountains!
Which talent do you wish you had?
My father is a retired music professor who still, at 87, sings solos for church and conducts
a church choir. I would love to be able to open my mouth and have a booming, operatic
soprano come bellowing out. My secret fantasy would be to star on Broadway in The
Sound of Music—like Julie Andrews. I would love to be able to sing so beautifully that
grown men would tear up. Music moves me. Unfortunately, I did not get my dad’s
voice—I can carry a tune but there is no magnificent instrument. Sigh.
Do you have a regular ‘first reader’? If so, who is it and why that person?
I never trust anything I’ve written until my husband has read it and responded. Though
he and I have very different reading tastes, he is excellent regarding plot development.
That is my weakness—I’m much more interested in character, and could spend lots
of pages developing that rather than moving the story along. He tells me when I’m
lollygagging on the page and I find his input invaluable. He also comes up with great
ideas. I may not use them but I love hearing what he would do if it was his book. After
almost 35 years of marriage, there is a level of trust with him that would be hard to
What’s your next big thing?
I am finishing up my second novel—no title yet. It’s historical fiction about another of my ancestors, this time Lady Mary Shelton, who served at Elizabeth I’s court. She is an ancestor of mine and her claim to fame is she married a Catholic without the queen’s permission and Elizabeth was so enraged, she broke Mary’s finger. I’ve built the novel around that one factual incident. Once this novel gets the editor’s okay, I want to write about my experience with cancer. In doing so, I might be of help to other people going through it. Plus, writing is how I make sense of the world. I need to make some kind of sense of this last year. After that, I have several historical novels in mind—ideas have never been my problem. Executing those ideas—well, that’s a different story.
Thanks for joining us at the ball! If you’re interested in learning more about Anne, visit her website or say hi on facebook. And if you’d like a chance to read her work for free, comment below! One lucky commenter (US address only) will win a free copy of Anne’s short story collection!