Ann Gaylia O’Barr's Searching for Home


My guest today is Ann Gaylia O’Barr. She’s led an interesting life and served as a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Her assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and  Washington, D.C.

Her published books include Singing in Babylon (romance), November, 2010. Quiet Deception (mystery/romance) and Searching for Home (romance, international intrigue), both in August, 2011, all from OakTara Publishers. Under contract with OakTara: Distant Thunder (romance).

Anne K. Albert – Welcome to my little corner of the blogsphere, Ann. Tell us something about yourself that you would normally only share with close friends.

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - Something I’ve only recently realized: My stories often begin with the death of someone close to the protagonist. Perhaps this pattern comes about because of a subconscious connection with the death of my father (to whom I was very close) when I was thirteen.

Anne K Albert - Tell us about your book. 

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - My most recent book is Searching for Home. A frustrated artist and an ambitious U.S. diplomat marry within days of meeting to resolve desperate loneliness after losing loved ones. They must resolve differences of background, temperament, and faith journeys if their marriage is to succeed, even as world events threaten to pull them apart. A home endures and flourishes through the kind of love Jesus modeled for his disciples.
 
Anne K Albert - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - I love Patrick, a protagonist in Searching for Home. He’s known outstanding success in school and career. He craves the love he never had while growing up or when, in his first marriage, he gave his love only to have it repudiated, then lost the one person who loved him unreservedly. Revealing that need to his new wife requires more risk than performing his job in a war zone.

Anne K Albert - What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - My characters and their stories lead me to find answers to my questions about life and faith.

Anne K Albert - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - Find enjoyment in life outside of writing. It will help you when you are rejected. Keep a balanced spiritual life to be open for God’s calling, whether in writing or other activities. Use writing as your gift, not your god.

Anne K Albert - Quick. Your five favorites – author, actor, movie, song, quote.

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - Author: For pure escape, Georgette Heyer’s regency novels (generic and formulaic as they come, but I love the witty dialog and the characterization.
Actor: Recently, I suppose Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.
Movie: Any of the Jane Austen movies.
Song: “The Clouds’ Veil” by Liam Lawton. I love Celtic music.
Quote: easy:  from Shadow of the Almighty, The Life and Times of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Anne K. Albert – Tell us something about your overseas experiences and how they've shaped you as a person and as a writer.

Ann Gaylia O’Barr - My tours in the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service took me to several Muslim-majority countries. I read about Islam and began to understand that the unique gift of Christianity is God’s love, in a person, Jesus Christ. Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet but cannot understand how a sovereign God could allow himself to be killed, thus, they do not accept Jesus’ death or his divinity. I began to see this act as the definition of Christianity: God’s love, sacrifice, forgiveness, resurrection, and call to a new life is our unique message to a hurting world. 

After my tours overseas, I saw my country and especially American Christians with a new perspective. We are a missionary faith, yet sometimes seem stuck only on domestic concerns. We need knowledge of the rest of the world if we are going to minister to it. Thus, many of my blogs and stories deal with Christians and their place in world events. I draw attention to the Middle East and the world-changing events happening there, from the overthrow of dictators to how the corresponding Islamist awakening will affect Christians and other minorities in those countries.

Anne K. Albert – Where can readers reach you online?

Ann Gaylia O’Barr – At my website: www.AnnGayliaOBarr.com and at Oak Tara: http://www.oaktara.com/AnnGayliaOBarr

Anne K. Albert – Would you share an excerpt with us of Searching for Home?

Ann Gaylia O’Barr – Yes!

          Patrick touched her arm. “Did you know we can get married here in three days if we pay a special fee? Otherwise it’s three weeks.”
          People sailed a boat past them, chattering, laughing. She didn’t understand the language. Greek, she guessed.
          He peered at her. “Say something.”
          “I’m sorry?”
          “I’m asking you to marry me. Say something.”
          “Marry you?”
          The luminosity left his eyes. “Bad joke?”
          “No,” she said, “not a bad joke. But terribly unexpected. Unless, of course, that’s what you’re doing—joking.”
          “I’m serious.”
          “Do you often ask women to marry you after knowing them three days?”
          “No. You’re the first.”
          “Why? Why should we get married?”
          He studied the boat going out. “It seems to me that we suit, don’t you think?”
          We suit? When Vance proposed, he told her not only that he loved her, but that he needed her and couldn’t live without her. This man was asking her to commit herself to him because—because they suited? What kind of arrogant elitist was he?
          Before she could speak her anger, he turned to her, and his eyes, bleak as a winter moor, captured her. Some need or hurt spoke mutely like a child whose dandelions, meant as a gift of love, had wilted.
          “I need to think about it,” she said.
          “Why?”
          “Why? Surely, Patrick, you don’t expect an answer tonight? Marriage for me is for keeps. I have to think about my family, my religion, my career.”
          “You’re twenty-three years old; we’re both Christians—serious ones, in your phrasing—and you know you’re not cut out for that job.”
          A yearning seized her.
          Perhaps his training taught him to sense weakness in an opponent and thrust through it. He said, “We can exchange e-mail addresses and send little messages back and forth. But you know as well as I do that we’ll soon drift apart. My work—it’s pretty demanding. I can’t handle a long-distance courtship.” He looked toward the boat, distant, then back at her. “Now, or we leave as friends, nothing more. What’s your answer?”
          Was it the need she saw in his eyes or the horror of those cubicles?
          “All right,” she snapped, as though he dared her and she called his bluff.
          He kissed her while the Mediterranean tide smacked against boats, and a lone sail flapped. The remnants of her anger dropped like an anchor into the sea.

Anne K. Albert – What a fascinating excerpt! I can’t wait to read more. Thank you so much, Ann, for visiting with me today. I wish you every success with Searching for Home, and as always, happy writing!

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