Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 20th July
Beginner’s Pluck Barbara Claypole White.
Barbara has always written, but after university she joined the world of fashion in London. She worked in PR for Dame Vivienne Westwood amongst others. Then she fell in love with an American Professor who stalked her in JFK Airport, and she moved to Illinois as a faculty wife, and freelance writer. Her next move was to North Carolina where she became a stay at home mum.
“When my son started pre-school I started writing in secret. Around that time my father died. I watched my mother coping with widowhood, and thought, how would I cope if that happened to me? I wanted to write about a young widow. She became Tilly.”
Then her son developed OCD, and she put the book aside. Years later, after diagnosis, treatment and therapy, she invented her second character to make sense of all that had taken place.
“The character, James, came out of my darkest fear.”
Who is Barbara Claypole White?
Date of birth: September 13th, 1961 in Bedfordshire.
Education: Bedford High School; York University; History.
Home: Hillsborough North Carolina.
Family: Husband, Professor Laurence Grossberg, and son Zachariah, 18, a poet.
The Day Job: Full time writer.
Hobbies: Gardening, particularly of woodland gardens.
Favourite Writers: Denyse Devlin; The Catalpa Tree inspired me to start writing. Marian
Keyes; Jodi Picoult; Eoin Colfer and Rosamund Pilcher.
Second Novel: “It’s called The In-between Hour, and it’s out in December. It’s about two broken families who come together to heal.”
Top Writing Tip: Keep believing in your story. Write, rewrite and rewrite.
Web:www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com Twitter: No.
The Debut: The Unfinished Garden. MIRA UK: €11.24 Kindle:€8.08.
Set between North Carolina and Northamptonshire, this tender love story centres on Tilly, a young widow, and businessman James, who has OCD. They build a garden together. Deeply moving, the novel explores grief, guilt, and OCD. It gives a great deal of insight into how the condition manifests. It gives an understanding of what it is to fear.
The Verdict: A superb debut from a highly original voice.