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Author Spotlight: Barbara Eppich Struna

Who is Barbara Eppich Struna?

Internationally best-selling author Barbara Eppich Struna is fascinated by history and writes a blog about the unique facts and myths of Cape Cod. Her published books are The Old Cape House and The Old Cape Teapot; her third novel in the Old Cape Series is The Old Cape Hollywood Secret. Besides being a storyteller at heart, she is currently president of Cape Cod Writers Center, a Member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women, a panelist at the International Thriller Writers – Thrillerfest 2016, and a member of Sisters in Crime: National, New England, LA  and two writing groups.

What motivated you to write your first novel?

My husband and I uprooted our family of three teenagers and moved from Ohio to Cape Cod into an old 1880 house in historic Brewster. We had just turned forty years old. In my backyard, I uncovered a pattern of red bricks beneath ten inches of dirt. There was nothing under the layer of bricks so I placed them in my garden, but a small spark in my head began to grow into a mystery/suspense story about the old house. Then I heard of the legend of the Whydah pirate ship, Maria Hallett and her pirate lover, Sam Bellamy.

What strange things do you do when you write? Do you listen to music? Watch television? Eat Cheetos?  

I listen to music. I find it difficult to write in silence. The key to this musical inspiration lies in choosing music with no vocals, rhythm, or melody. The background music in movies or video games is the best. If someone is chasing you, you need to feel the fear or anxiety of the chase, the exhilaration of reaching the top of a mountain, or finding a clue that takes you further in your story.

What was your greatest challenge writing this story and how did you overcome it?

Finding the time. When I began to write the story, I had three teenagers, with a few going off to college and the surprise of two more babies that arrived after we moved. With our sole income coming from my husband, who is a professional artist, our financial state was always a challenge…and our 1880 house was always in need of repair. It holds a lot of secrets.

If you could spend the day with one of the characters in this book, who would you choose and what would you do?  

My present day character, Nancy Caldwell, is modeled after me and the story reflects almost 50% of my life; of course her life is a lot more exciting. I never found treasure but one’s treasure is unique to what you value the most. I think I’d still like to spend a day with Nancy Caldwell.

What’s next for you and your writing career?

Since 2013, I have written and published two other novels with Nancy Caldwell as the present day character. My books are written using alternating chapters between time periods.  Nancy is the vehicle that moves my reader through the story. Nancy finds a clue in present day and then in the next chapter, you meet the character from the time period and discover why she found the clue or why she didn’t find it. I’m working on the fourth novel in this series.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas come from the reality that surrounds me. Whatever I write is influenced by actual events and then expanded. I also need to become familiar with the time period that is featured in the story, so there is a lot of research.

What is something you are not good at doing?

I do not do well with file cards or graphs; I never know what my characters will do next. I do know the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story. I just don’t know how my characters will go from ‘a’ to ‘b’, that’s the fun part. I do not enjoy nor utilize the process of knowing the complete plot of my story. I find it to be to confining.

What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?

History surrounds us every day, you only need to look and find it. Pay attention to your reality.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Walk the beaches, old roads, and explore the places tourists never go.  When my husband, a professional artist, and I walk, he’s always looking up for shadows, colors, or the play of light on the grasses, dunes and water, while I’m looking down searching for treasures or any unique item that may appear. We hold hands so we don’t trip as we walk.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Write everyday!

What are your favorite characters that you have created?

Surprisingly…the villains or bad guys, I think it’s because I never encounter bad people; I try to avoid them. But they make for very interesting characters.

What is one piece of advice you would give to your teenage self?

Pay attention to who and what surrounds you. Don’t be afraid to take a step off the familiar path of life.

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