Author Interview: ‘The Quelling’ by Barbara Barrow

About the Book:

Addie and Dorian have always been together. They’re clever, beautiful–and hopelessly violent. Diagnosed with a rare psychiatric condition and accused of murder at age six, the sisters have spent most of their lives in a locked ward under the supervision of eccentric researcher Dr. Lark. Now on the cusp of adulthood, Addie has a plan: start a new family, to replace the one she lost. Dorian struggles to quell her violent tendencies in time to help raise her sister’s child.

But Dr. Lark sees these patients as key to the completion of his revolutionary cure, and he will not allow Addie’s absurd ideas to get in the way. As his “treatments” become increasingly bizarre, they put Addie and Dorian’s safety at risk. The girls’ only lifeline may be Ellie, a ward nurse with troubles of her own, who’s never felt the need to protect anyone–until now.

Harrowing and bittersweet, at times claustrophobic, this gritty debut explores the fragility of familial bonds and the sometimes intractable tension between freedom and safety.


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I grew up in Atlanta and lived in Germany, New York, and St. Louis before moving to Pittsburgh where I work as an English professor. My dad was a taxi driver and used to take me out on rides where I used to meet interesting characters and see the city. I think this is where my love of writing started: hearing other people talk about themselves and tell stories in the taxi.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I write early in the mornings, usually from 6-8 A.M., before I take the bus to work. My desk is near the kitchen so that I can stress-eat if a scene isn’t going well.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

They come from so many places! Sometimes it’s just a conversation I have or overhear somewhere. I get a lot of inspiration from talking to people. I take public transportation and walk a lot, so I get material from being fully present in a city. I also get ideas from listening to other people’s work. My debut novel was inspired by an episode of This American Life that I heard once while I was folding laundry.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I have general ideas for characters and conflict but I am a big drafter and reviser. I usually write at least two very messy, meandering drafts before a clear plot starts to gradually take shape.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Literary fiction with a Gothic twist. I love to read and teach novels like Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. They’re about women and hysteria and repression and madhouses, and they have these strange psychological atmospheres that I find completely eerie and fascinating and that I tried to pay homage to in the book.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I really admire Janicza Bravo’s work so basically any cast she would pick because she would be my dream director!

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read a ton. I admire so many authors but among them are Zadie Smith, J.M. Coetzee, Octavia Butler, Lorrie Moore, Sandra Cisneros, and Joy Williams.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Charlie J. Eskew’s Tales of the Astonishing Black Spark.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

This is hard for me because I have so many favourite books and whatever my current favourite is seems to change with my life circumstances. But I will name three works that make me cry every single time I read them: Leo Tolstoy’s Family Happiness, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Go for it! Establish a routine that will allow you to have a regular writing schedule of some kind. Try and become comfortable with rejection – it’s not pleasant, but it’s a part of the process. Be patient and read a lot. Build a writing community: this could mean going to readings, supporting local authors and bookstores, and/or joining or starting a writing group. I also find it helpful to read writers on writing. Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird are both wonderful.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Come say hello!


Twitter: @dustyoldbagz




About the Author:

Barbara Barrow is a fiction writer and literary critic who adores all things feminist, fabulist, and surreal. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, The Forge Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. She is Assistant Professor of English at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Follow her online at


Lanternfish Press

Twitter: @LFPbooks

Instagram: @LFPbooks


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