Every story needs a narrator, and Barbara Stark-Nemon stepped up early in life. She learned storytelling, and a fascination with the magic of language from her grandfather, an attorney who escaped Germany in 1938 and wove unforgettable tales of his former life. An undergraduate degree in English literature and Art History from the University of Michigan led Barbara to a teaching career in English and then a Masters in Speech-language Pathology. Everywhere, there were stories. Working in schools, universities and hospitals as a speech-language therapist, Barbara specialized in child language disorder and deafness. She learned much about the need to be heard that we all share. She writes, gardens, cycles, swims and enjoys her family in Ann Arbor and Northport, Michigan. Even in Darkness is her first novel. Her novel-in-progress is set on the Leelanau Peninsula and involves a family mystery and hard apple cider.
How did you become a writer?
I’ve always best processed my thoughts through writing, and I’ve always loved listening to people’s stories. I wrote journals, and what would now be called flash fiction, for years while I was working in schools and hospitals with children.
The top item on my bucket list was to write a novel and my great-aunt’s life story wouldn’t leave me alone. The decision to write a novel about her began my career as a writer.
How do you write? What is your process?
I do my best writing secluded at a table overlooking Lake Michigan, but I write everywhere and any time. I haven’t figured out how to have a disciplined writing schedule! I do need a chunk- two or three hours at a minimum- to really accomplish something.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh dear, I never like this question! As soon as I finish mentioning favorites, I think of five or fifty more I might have mentioned instead. Here’s the list today. Charles Dickens, A.S. Byatt, Anthony Doerr, Mary Doria Russel, and from Michigan, Donald Lystra, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jim Harrison and Ellen Airgood
What authors have inspired you?
Most recently, Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See may be the best book I’ve read in 10 years. It came out just before Even in Darkness, and made me believe that a WWII story with unexpected alliances and outcomes (and beautiful writing!) appeals to the reading public.
What books are on your bedside table?
Alice Hoffman’s The Marriage of Opposites, Meg Waite Clayton’s The Race for Paris, Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, Letty Pogrebin’s Single Jewish Male Seeking Soulmate.
What writing projects do you have planned next?
I’m working on that novel about a woman of a certain age who starts a farm business on the Leelanau Peninsula, and has her life upended by a family mystery. I’m also developing materials for some fun workshops I’m conducting on writing fiction about your family. I blog semi-regularly at my website and at the Huffington Post Book blog.
What advice do you have for young writers?
Record what happens and what you think about it, even if you don’t think you’ve had enough experience to write. You do and you will. The more you write, the better.
What was your favorite book as a child?
All the hoopla about her “new” book notwithstanding, I loved Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I was pretty young when I read A Tale of Two Cities the first time, and that became a favorite.
Her latest book information
Spanning a century and three continents, Even in Darkness tells the story of Klare Kohler, whose origins in a prosperous German-Jewish family hardly anticipate the often harrowing life she faces as an adult—a saga of family, lovers, two world wars, heart-breaking loss and the unconventional life she creates with a young Catholic priest.
Based on a true story, Even in Darkness highlights the intimate experience of Kläre’s reinvention as she faces the destruction of life as she knew it, and traces her path beyond survival to wisdom, meaning, and—most unexpectedly—love.
Even in Darkness is available wherever books are sold and in all on-line outlets in both paperback and e-book formats. It was recently featured in the Foreword Reviews, the Leelanau Enterprise, and on Michigan Radio’s Cynthia Canty’s “Stateside”.
Published by She Writes Press, $16.95