C. F. Barrows!
C.F. Welcome to Homeschool Authors. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I suppose you already know one thing about me: I was home-schooled. I was in it for the whole ride, from pre-school to my graduation in 2012. I come from a family of seven, and enjoy music – especially singing, and playing/composing for the piano – sketching, reading and, of course, writing. I’m a black belt in Blue Wave Taekwondo, but am not especially active, due to a rather disabling case of Lyme disease. I love being helpful, whether it’s by proof-reading a friend’s work or volunteering at the local library, and am a card-carrying perfectionist. I'm also a little bit crazy and often get picked on by my loving family for it, but that's the way God made me, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Writing is my passion and my ministry, and my goal for every project is to "do it heartily, as doing it unto the Lord, and not unto men" (Col. 3:23).
What was your favorite part of being homeschooled?
I suppose my favorite part of the ride was the freedom, the flexibility involved. Home-schooling allows the parents to observe their kids’ different interests and learning styles and tailor their educations to match. I was always rather an independent learner, even learning to read before my mom ever sat down to teach me. By the time I reached my senior year, I was learning more from reading library books and internet articles than I was from my English curriculum. I’d decided in perhaps my sophomore year that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and I’d told my mom about my aspirations. So instead of using a curriculum for English in my senior year like a normal kid, I got to write a novel. It was a huge undertaking, but very rewarding.
What is your favorite fantasy book/author and why?
It’s rather funny – I’m actually not a big fantasy reader. Take a look at the pile of books I always bring home from the library, and you’ll see primarily suspense or action-adventure novels, with the occasional self-help book, YA or sci-fi novel thrown into the mix. I was a Ted Dekker fan for a while, and still enjoy a few of his books, especially the Circle Trilogy. (And yes, I call it a trilogy, because ‘Green’ doesn’t count, in my opinion.) But I don't like the dark turn his work has taken, so I don't read much of his work anymore. I grew up on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and the works of both hold a special place in my heart, but I suppose I’ll have to call this one a draw, perhaps erring in Tolkien’s favor. But maybe that’s just because of the current hype surrounding the movie adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’.
If you could pick anywhere in the world, where would you like to visit?
I have a great deal of Irish blood in my veins, so Ireland has always held a certain appeal for me. It’s a beautiful country, and so rich in history. However, I’d also love to go to either England or New Zealand, the former being the birthplace of many famous authors, and the latter being absolutely beautiful. (And it’s also where ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was filmed, so hey, what Tolkien fan wouldn’t want to visit?) I took a trip to Mexico once, and very much enjoyed it, so that’s another candidate. Again, I’m the kind of person whose favorite things in any category shift constantly. But wherever I went, I’d want it to be rich in history and have a stimulating atmosphere.
What caused you to start writing?
I don’t even remember when I started writing. I’ve found poems and shards of stories from when I was very young, and the oldest full story I’ve recovered was written when I was probably eight or nine years old. I do seem to remember driving my little brother crazy because whenever we played “The Game Without a Name” (our ironic name for our version of Make-Believe), I’d plan out elaborate storylines for each day’s play sessions, and of course spent the first five minutes of each day’s playtime trying to convince my brother to help me act out my ideas.
So I’ve always loved making up stories, and that love only increased as I grew older and learned to better express my thoughts and ideas through my work. I don’t really know what made me love it in the first place, but I didn’t really get serious about it until high school. Until then, it was just a hobby, something I loved to do but didn’t consider anything more than a fun, rather unique pastime, albeit one for which I seemed to possess a knack. But as my writing matured in style and content, and I realized all the ways my writing could be a blessing to others, not only entertainment, I slowly came to the conclusion that this was my calling. It was something I could do well, not only for my own enjoyment, but for the benefit of others, and to me, that seemed like something worth pursuing.
What inspired you to write The Follower?
The Follower was originally just a random scene I had in my notebook, which I added to whenever I had some free time, and which I didn’t think would ever become anything more than a way to keep myself amused when I would have otherwise been bored stiff. However, like a few others of my many story concepts, it grew and matured to the point where it was a novel in the making. Then my mom got wind of my growing interest in it and made it my senior English project, so of course it suddenly became a much more serious project. For the first stages of plotting the story and executing the early chapters, it was still just a fun school project that I hoped would at least be readable when it was finished. But as I got further into the story and began developing the characters and themes involved, it became something I hoped would be not only enjoyable, but also a learning experience for both the reader and myself. It became more than a story – it became my ministry, something I poured my heart and soul into, and ultimately trusted God to tell me where to go with it when I had no idea what should happen next.
What is The Follower about?
The Follower is the story of eight young military scouts who are trapped together in a cave-in and must band together to escape, despite their differences and the dangers involved in taking the route available to them. And even those who live in the mountain don’t realize just how perilous their journey will become, or how fully they will have to depend upon each other to survive. Here’s the full synopsis:
“Three hundred years ago, the Rhenor nation split into two, the Reshan and the Khanor. One dwells in the Outerlands, the other in the mountains - and although the nations have made peace, their people have not.
One fateful day, two small patrols meet in an outer cave in Khanor territory. The youths, spurred by mutual distrust, brawl, and the ensuing cave-in cuts off their main routes back to both the Reshan and the Khanor civilizations. Their only choice is to join forces and follow the one remaining tunnel – one that runs through an area known simply as the Forbidden Regions – to find their way back to their homes. Along the way, the beliefs of every traveler are put to the test, and the secrets of a few may threaten the safety of all.
For as they go, Lusefar, lord of the Saethen, sends his agents against them, licking his lips as a ravenous dragon.”
Where can people buy The Follower?
The Follower is available in both eBook and paperback formats. The eBook can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, and Smashwords, and should soon be available on at least two more sites. The paperback is available through Amazon.com, through my CreateSpace eStore ( https://www.createspace.com/4035806 ), or directly through me. Copies bought through me are signed by the author (yours truly), and can be obtained by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your order and any preferences as to how you would like the message written. (We can work out the details of delivery by e-mail.)
Who will enjoy this story?
It seems, based on reader feedback, that The Follower appeals to a broad audience, including both fantasy/sci-fi fans and those who don’t normally enjoy speculative fiction. Since the main characters range in age from fifteen to twenty-five, The Follower might be classified as a young adult novel and should certainly be enjoyable to teens, but based upon the content and reader feedback, it should be enjoyable for any readers over the age of ten, including adults well over the “target” age group. I tried my best to keep any objectionable content out, but parents should be advised that there are some scary sequences and some relatively mild violence including a battle and some references to things such as characters being tortured by Saethen, so it could be scary for younger kids. Some of the more depraved characters also indulge in an alcohol-like substance which they use to quiet their guilty consciences, but it is clearly portrayed as something harmful and not to be sought after.
What is your favorite quote from The Follower?
There are many lines – some comical, some profound – which I enjoyed writing and reading, but one conversation in particular always stands out to me. At one point in the story, Sheth Terrem – a Yahveh-follower and the character who gave the novel its name – is discussing the group’s predicament with Yannah Delraen, another major character. Yannah feels that there is no hope for the situation, and doesn’t believe that there is any rhyme or reason for the terrible things that have happened so far. Sheth’s response (rather patched-together from several lines of the same conversation) is rather simple, but still hits home to me, since it sums up both the book’s theme and a lesson I myself learned throughout the writing process:
“Do you believe that Yahveh created the world, Yannah? … Then He must be awfully big – bigger than anything we can comprehend. … We can’t see the extent of [His] plans. We can’t comprehend the idea that suffering can work out to anyone’s good. We can’t wrap our minds around the fact that Yahveh knows everything we’re going through, and has it all under control. But He does. All we can do is follow.”
Do you plan to write more books?
Oh, definitely. I have several more books in the plans for 'The Sehret Chronicles' alone, most either following up on or providing background for the characters and themes of 'The Follower'. My current project is a prequel to 'The Follower', which will explore the back-stories of a few of the characters and set the stage for events in the sequels. After that (or possibly before I'm done with that, if my history is any indicator), I'll start on the first sequel and continue the story I began with 'The Follower'.
I also have several other YA, science-fiction and suspense stories sitting on the proverbial back burner, so I’d say I’m down for quite a few more books. How many more? Only God knows that – all I can do is work with the ideas He’s already given me, and try to follow His will for my career to the best of my ability.
Do you have any final thoughts?
I just want to put this out there for any other aspiring authors reading this: Don’t give up on your goals just because they’re hard to reach. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve come across, how many comments I’ve heard, that indicate that teenagers can’t write. I disagree – I think teenagers can do many things that others don’t expect of us, but we have to be willing to rise to the challenge and do what’s necessary to accomplish our goals, and not expect others to do the work for us, or pat us on the back for putting forward only a minimal amount of effort.
It’s also important to be sure that you’re pursuing the right path, and not chasing after something that you weren’t meant to accomplish. I have found that the voice of experience is a good one to heed, and that seeking help from more experienced authors – and even some of my peers – helped me greatly in confirming my calling and improving my abilities. So work hard, heed advice, and no matter how old you are, or what it is that you think is your calling, remember to lean on God and follow His calling, trusting Him with the process and the results. You may not become a best-selling author, or even one with more than a handful of readers mostly consisting of friends and family, but remember that when God calls you to something, it’s never for nothing. Even if you don’t end up where you wanted to be ten years down the road, trust that there was a reason for your effort, something God sees even if you don’t. “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ declares the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV)
C. F. is going to giveaway a copy of her book! Open to US residents only (due to shipping costs) enter below