Interview with Barbara O'Neal

Jennifer Vido

 Barbara O'Neal

As a seasoned blogger, I am never more gratified than when I connect with my followers. Oftentimes, special friendships blossom simply from the exchange of ideas between two strangers with a common interest. No matter what your hobbies may be, there is no shortage of blog options available. From wine enthusiasts to specialty chefs and even high-end dog groomers, you never know what you might find on the web.

 This month’s Jen’s Jewels Barbara O’Neal addresses this very topic in her latest release, The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel. It’s the story of four women bloggers with varied interests and ages who come together in the beautiful Oregon wine country for a life-changing reunion. Despite their professional prowess, the Foodie Four are each at a crossroads in life. Together they unite in this unforgettable tale of friendship, love, and heartfelt emotion.       

As part of my interview, Random House Publishing Group has generously donated five copies for my readers to win in the trivia contest that follows the interview. Winners will be randomly drawn. Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by, follow me on Facebook, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewelsthe ultimate source for news on the web for today’s hottest authors.              

Jen: As a six-time Rita award winner, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.

Barbara: My goal was always to be a novelist, but my father wanted me to be sensible, so I studied mass communications with a goal of being a journalist. It was great training—I learned to write to a deadline, to write on demand, to tone done my (very baroque!) language. I worked for a newspaper for eight months as an intern and realized that was not at all what I wanted to do. Novels were—and are—my love.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.

Barbara: There were two. When I was in the 5th grade, I read an author bio at the end of a book I’d been reading and it occurred to me that people wrote books. Like that was their job. And my thought was, very clearly: why would you do anything else?

The second was as I was finishing my internship and university degree. I tended bar to make ends meet, and one night I over heard my favorite reporter telling her friend that one day she would quit the paper and write her novels. My heart seized—and I knew I’d be her, at 40 telling my friends that if I didn’t give novels a shot right now, while I was still poor and used to it. So I talked to my husband and asked if he’d give me five years to see if I could sell a novel. He took a big gulp (we were about to NOT be poor, finally!) and said yes. I will be grateful forever.

Jen: Besides writing books in various genres, you also have a blog, For my readers who may not be familiar with its content, please tell us how it evolved.

Barbara: The blog came out of my experiences as columnist, actually. I’ve always loved the simple, ordinary conversation that can evolve around women just talking about their lives, and wanted to establish a place for that. I love talking about travel and food and showing off my photos, so it was a very natural, very happy habit to develop.

I have to admit I’ve been distracted by blogging elsewhere over the past couple of years, so have neglected my own. The past year, I’ve given up all the other blogs and will be bringing everything back to A Writer Afoot.

Jen: In December 2010 your delightful novel How to Bake a Perfect Life, which I was thrilled to feature on my website, was chosen as a Target Club Pick. How did that recognition affect your career? How did you handle the pressure of such an honorable distinction? 


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