Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview with Barbara Ashford & Giveaway - May 30, 2012

Please welcome Barbara Ashford to The Qwillery. Barbara is the author of the Crossroads Theatre series. Spellcrossed, the 2nd book in the series, will be published on June 5, 2012.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Barbara:  When I’m working on a scene, I sit on the sofa and improvise dialogue between the characters. Definitely a legacy of my years as an actress. It’s amazing how many times the conversation goes in unexpected directions, which changes my original concept of the scene and deepens the emotional conflicts between characters.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Barbara:  I guess I’m a plontser! I work from a synopsis, but I’ve found that outlining every chapter just sucks the life – and the creativity – out of me. I like to leave room for surprises. Those are often the best moments in a book.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Barbara:  Adhering to a schedule. It’s either feast or famine with me. When I’m on a roll, I can write twelve hours a day. When I’m not on a roll…oy, you don’t want to know how much time I waste playing computer games.

TQ:  What inspired you to write the Crossroads Theatre novels - Spellcast and Spellcrossed?

Barbara:  I wanted to write a fantasy that drew on my theatre background. Theatre IS fantasy. Bringing a truly fantastic element into the mix seemed like a natural.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for novels?

Barbara:  I relied on my experience as an actress to create the backstage world of the Crossroads, but I did a lot of research on the actual musicals so that the onstage moments would be as detailed and authentic as possible. Although I knew most of the shows, I still needed to read the script; you can’t rely on the movie version or on memory. I sat down with the scores so I knew which instruments were used in the musical numbers. I also looked at set designs and clips from productions on YouTube to get inspiration for the sets.

TQ:  Describe Spellcrossed (Crossroads Theatre 2) in 140 characters or less.

Barbara:  Maggie’s life is thrown into chaos by a blast from her past that makes her question what she wants and how far she’s prepared to go to get it.

TQ:  In Spellcrossed who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Barbara:  Maggie was the easiest AND the hardest. Easiest because I knew her so well. Hardest at the beginning of the book. I had to bring readers up to speed on what had happened since the end of Spellcast. I needed to show that Maggie could survive – as a woman and as director – without Rowan. And I wanted her to discover things about herself and her new cast before that blast from the past comes in at the end of Act One.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Spellcrossed?

Barbara:  Well, I did enjoy writing some of the sex scenes. But my favorite is probably Chapter 11 – the moment when Maggie’s life gets turned upside down. It’s such an emotional roller coaster for her.

TQ:  Which character from Spellcast and Spellcrossed surprised you the most?

Barbara:  In Spellcast, it was definitely Reinhard. Although Hal claims that Reinhard is “a pussycat,” Reinhard starts off as the gruff, dictatorial stage manager. In the course of writing the book, he morphed into a kind of father figure for Maggie. I had picked Alex (the music director) for that role, but it’s much more surprising – and interesting – when Reinhard steps up to the plate. I guess Hal knew what he was talking about!

TQ:  The cover for Spellcrossed is radically different than Spellcast's. Do you believe that the Spellcrossed cover more accurately reflects the novel than the cover for Spellcast did?

Barbara:  Absolutely! My original concept for Spellcast was much more like the cover of Spellcrossed: a close-up of the stage, a mysterious figure surrounded in light. I wanted something that hinted at fantasy and mystery and romance. Instead I got a barn.

A lot of reviews of Spellcast had some variation of: “Ignore the cover. It’s what inside that counts!” (I especially liked the one that began: “I picked up this book because I felt sorry for it. Why? Look at the cover!) I think that’s why so many readers were surprised by Spellcast – the cover gave them no idea what to expect.

TQ:  What's next?

Barbara:  I’m working on two different novels and revising one of my musicals for a production in New York City. Still not sure which of the novels I want to concentrate on first; maybe I’ll try writing both at the same time!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Barbara:  Thank you, Sally. Always fun to visit. And for any readers who live in the New York City area, the Spellcrossed release party will be held Sunday, June 24, in New Rochelle. (Details on my website.) I’d love to have you drop by!

About Crossroads Theatre

Crossroads Theatre 2
DAW, June 5, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages


But when Maggie Graham freed Rowan Mackenzie to return to Faerie, she took the first step toward her new life as director of the Crossroads Theatre. A hectic new season of summer stock leaves her little time to moon over the past. She has to balance the demands of her interfering board president and a company of actors that includes bewildered amateurs, disdainful professionals, a horde of children, and an arthritic dog. And while Maggie yearns to give others the kind of healing she found at the Crossroads, even she recognizes that magic must take a back seat to ticket sales.

But magic is hard to banish from the old white barn. Memories lurk like ghosts in the shadowy wings and the unexpected is as time-honored a tradition as the curtain call. And when the tangled spells of Maggie’s past turn her life upside down, it will take more than faery magic to ensure the happy-ever-after ending she longs for….

Crossroads Theatre 1
DAW, May 3, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

When Maggie Graham lost her job and her apartment fell to pieces, she decided to flee New York City for a while and hide in Vermont, at the Crossroads Theatre. She hadn't planned to audition, yet soon found herself part of the summer stock cast. But her previous acting experiences couldn't prepare her for the theater's unusual staff-and its handsome, almost otherworldly director.

About Barbara

Barbara Ashford wrote her first “novel” Cherokee the Wild Pinto when she was eight years old and prepared the final manuscript on her Tom Thumb typewriter. She abandoned a career in educational administration to pursue a life in the theatre, first as an actress and later as a lyricist and librettist. Many of her experiences ended up in Spellcast and Spellcrossed. Barbara lives in New Rochelle, New York with her husband whom she met while performing in summer stock. For more on the Crossroads Theatre series, visit

The Giveaway


What: One commenter will win a copy of Spellcrossed (Crossroads Theatre 2) from The Qwillery.

How: Leave a comment answering the following question:

Which cover do you like better - Spellcast's or Spellcrossed's?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook and Twitter. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. Enter me!

    I don't know which cover I like. They don't go together although the color tries to bring them closer. Standing my themselves, the first book almost looks like a mystery or cozy, while the second has that paranormal feel. Hard to pick because they are so different. I guess...maybe the first cover, but I don't think it's all that accurate a depiction of the paranormal!!!


  2. This may be an unpopular response but I think I may prefer the first cover. I remember thinking it really stood out from everything else in the fantasy section of the bookstore and that's what prompted me to pick it up. Great interview! (blog and twitter follower) contact @shewolfreads

  3. I like Spellcrossed's cover. To me, it's both eerie and mystical, with a bit of mysterious thrown in.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  4. That is a very easy question. Spellcrossed. When I first saw the cover I immediately thought 'cozy mystery' which is fine because I read that too but at a much slower rate so I haven't paid much attention to it since I placed it in my to read list. I'll have to move it up the list!!
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    april dot vrugtman at gmail dot com

  5. I meant to say above "when I first saw the cover of the FIRST book, the one with the barn, I thought 'cozy mystery'" Sorry about any confusion!

  6. I think that I prefer the first cover over the second. I'm not sure why, because I feel like the second reflects the content a bit more, but I do like the first better.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 tweeted (


  7. I think this conversation is fascinating! It's nice to know that SOMEBODY out there liked the Spellcast cover!

  8. Spellcrossed. I always thought Spellcast was very plain and didn't represent the book well enough.
    Follower acm05

  9. I like Spellcrossed's F/C better. It represents mystery and supernatural much better. The other F/C says "Carnaval" to me. Best wishes with BOTH books! I would lovew to win a copy as you are a "new to me" author!! Thanks for this opportunity.

  10. Oppps and I had +1 comment +1 follower and +1 mentioned on FB.

  11. I like the Spellcrossed cover.

    I follow the blog.


  12. I like Spellcast.

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follower

  13. Hi

    I have heard such great things about these two books. They are on my list to read. I think I like the cover on Spellcrossed better.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Thanks for the chance.

  14. I loved Spelledcrossed cover better. I think it is really neat looking. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  15. I like Spellcrossed. It is ethereal.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  16. Spellcrossed is my favorite cover.

    gfc follower under Martha Lawson
    email subscriber

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  17. I love the water effect with SPELLCROSSED. It's gorgeous.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  18. I like Spellcrossed's cover.

    GFC as Filia Oktarina
    Twitter :

    filiafantasy at gmail dot com

  19. I like the Spellcast cover.
    Theresa n