Spring Autho Feature: Holly LaBarbera
Happy Spring everyone! Today I would like to welcome to my blog, featured author, Holly LaBarbera. Check out her info & our fun Q & A below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I was a writer long before I knew I was a writer, as a young pen pal with my Grandma, corresponding with her about boys and books and everything else of importance. I remain dedicated to snail-mail, single-handedly attempting to keep the US Postal Service up and running by sending handwritten cards and letters to friends and family. I love to read and am old-school on that, too, enjoying the feel of holding a book in my hands and turning actual pages, so much warmer than yet another screen.
I began my formal writing career relatively recently, when my son left for college. I needed to fill that void with new people to grow and nurture, so I began creating them. I am currently looking for a publisher for my first novel, FIVE DAYS, while working hard at editing my second novel, ALL I KNOW. I attended Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop in July 2018 and loved every minute of it. I attended the San Francisco Writers Workshop in February 2019.
I’m also a psychotherapist, spending my days exploring relationships—learning what brings people together, keeps them together, and pulls them apart. I witness brave journeys of self-discovery and see the difficult choices people are called upon to make, all of which I hope brings truth to the characters I write and the journeys they undertake.
I grew up just north of New York City and now live outside of San Francisco. I considers myself equal parts New Yorker and California girl, the inspiration for Trey Moore (FIVE DAYS) coming from a mash-up of Yankees and Warriors players I have cheered for and fantasized about over many years.
Get To Know The Author: Q & A
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a author?
A: I love the creative process of being a writer, the characters and stories coming into my head and then bringing them to life through words on a page. It’s still unbelievable to me that it keeps happening, but I’m thrilled and grateful that it does!
Q: What age were you when you first started writing?
A: I’ve been writing informally my whole life but didn’t start my first novel until I was over forty.
Q: As an author, what would you choose as your mascot?
A: Dolphins have always been my thing, so I’d have to have one as my author mascot. I admire their intelligence, social interactions, playfulness, and grace. Plus, they embody my idea of freedom—the entire ocean theirs to explore.
Q: Do you karaoke? If so, What is your go to karaoke song?
A: I sing along to music on a daily basis, but sadly don’t do karaoke as much as I’d like. I do not have a reliable go-to song, which is problematic. On my last karaoke outing, I sang ABBA, which is a fun crowd-pleaser but very difficult to actually hit the right notes, so while it was fun, it was a pretty painful performance.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a aspiring author?
A: I am an aspiring author, so I need advice as much as anyone! However, I will say that my best life advice applies to writing as well…Be patient and kind with yourself; expect to do badly on your first attempt (which is what edits are for!); commit to the work of writing and revising, especially on the days when it feels really hard; enjoy the moments of flow when they come. Mostly, just keep at it. Giving up is tempting sometimes, but never leads anywhere better.
We’d been sledding all afternoon when the accident happened. It was the day after Christmas, 1980, and we were on the hill in front of my house, experimenting with combinations of people on variations of sleds, trying to find the perfect weight distribution to send us shooting down the hill at top speeds.
Dad and Rob were directing the action, as invested as any of us kids in getting the most thrilling run possible. I have no memory of them drinking, but given the lifetime of memories I do have, my guess is they probably were.
The Tylers were with us for the holiday, as usual. In a way, they were our extended family, the adults estranged from their families of origin for various reasons, although I purposefully did not think of them as relatives yet. I was waiting for the day I believed was inevitable, the day I would marry Josh and make us an official family. Stephanie and I must have planned my wedding to her brother about a hundred times. I can picture us lying together under the covers, a flashlight keeping us awake, imagining the beautiful dresses and the one romantic kiss, the happily-ever-after of it all. Then we would be sisters, live next door to each other, and raise our daughters to be third generation best friends.
I was always so sure about things—things like my home and family, Santa Claus and summer vacation—and loving Josh Tyler. I knew him my whole life, and while there must have been a time before I thought about liking boys, I can’t actually remember not being in love with Josh. At twenty years old, I’m still in love with him.
Among the kids, Josh was the undisputed leader and his brothers Bobby and Nick were his primary minions, a three-man pack of mayhem and mischief. Bobby was two years younger than Josh, Nick a year younger than Bobby, with me and Kade, my twin brother, a year after them and Stephanie Tyler a year after that, pretty much a kid a year, like a ladder of children.
They’d arrived at our house on Christmas Eve, a day later than planned due to the huge storm that dumped feet of snow up and down the east coast, which was terrible for driving but great for sledding a few days later, wet and heavy snow, easily packed into slick sled runs. That night before Christmas our house was full of six kids bursting with excitement, divided between two bedrooms, and unsurprisingly none of us could fall asleep. Our dads were egging us on by continually jingling bells to make us think Santa had arrived. Josh would send someone out to the living room to check, and the parents would laugh and send the scout back to bed.
The next morning was a chaotic scene of ripped paper and piles of toys, lots of Star Wars action figures and space ships, since Empire Strikes Back was fresh in everyone’s minds. We’d been arguing since summer about whether Darth Vader was really Luke’s father. How could that be? I didn’t believe it. The bad guy couldn’t be the good guy’s dad. It made no sense to my eight-year-old brain.
So there we were, the day after Christmas, Dad and Kade and I trying to make the jump to light speed on our new toboggan. When the older boys took a turn, Stephanie, Kade and I traded off in pairs on an old wooden sled with red metal runners, which wasn’t as fast but was easier to steer. Stephanie and Kade were scared if we went too fast anyway. She was only seven, and although I was a mere year older, I was fearless. Kade was eight too, obviously, but always more timid than I.
Dad proposed one last run on the big toboggan on an alternate, riskier course that was fresh snow but steeper, with more trees and obstacles. Josh was in because Josh was always in when my dad suggested something. Bobby, Nick and I followed Josh’s lead as per usual. I was in the front of the toboggan, because we had learned that you went faster when the lightest person was in front and the heaviest person was in the back. We started down the hill at top speed, and I was scared but also thrilled. The wind made my eyes water and snow was kicking up in my face, so I couldn’t see anything, including the tree we were barreling toward. My dad pulled Josh off, who pulled Bobby with him, who pulled Nick. But Nick didn’t pull me off. Everyone was yelling for me to jump, but I was deer-in-the-headlights at that point and crashed straight into the tree.
My dad froze in terror when he saw the scarlet puddle forming around me in the snow. Josh was the one who picked me up and started running back to our house. Rob brought Dad to his senses, and they quickly caught up with us, Dad taking me from Josh, getting me home and then to the hospital, where he and Mom waited with me for hours for a skilled plastic surgeon to sew my bloody mess of a face back together, doing such a good job that I was left with only a hint of a scar on my bottom lip, where I’d bitten clean through. I needed twenty-seven stitches in total. My nose was broken and one cheekbone had a hairline fracture, all of which was painful but nothing that wouldn’t heal.
The rest of that week could have been horrible, but I actually remember it fondly. I was in pain, with bandages that were difficult to see around, and I was on a liquid diet because of my ripped up lip, so all of that was terrible. But I also got a lot of attention. Kade never left my side. Dad made me his world-famous milkshakes, bringing them to me and quickly scurrying away, avoiding looking directly at my mangled face. Mom made sure I took my medicine and didn’t mess with my bandages, made me soup and slept next to me in case I needed anything in the night. One day she started reading me a chapter of my favorite book, The Secret Garden, and when something else required her attention, Kade took over for chapter two. It was sweet of him to make the attempt, but he wasn’t a good reader, and it was tedious to listen to him try to sound out the words over and over. Josh overheard and offered to take a turn, spending time over the next few days to read me the rest of the book, admitting how much he liked it once we finished.
Stephanie mostly stayed away because my face frightened her. Bobby was initially drawn to the blood and gore aspect but quickly lost interest. Nick avoided me because he blamed himself for my injury, his guilt confirmed by Josh, who punched him while I was at the hospital for not pulling me off the toboggan. I could see the bruise on his cheek, and although I didn’t like thinking of Nick getting hurt because of me, I did like knowing that Josh stuck up for me, so that was confusing, although not the first or last time that my feelings surrounding Josh were confusing.
I basked in the care and attention he gave me. Kade was my constant companion, but Josh spent a lot of time with me too before they returned home.
Josh and Kade. My two guys.
-Excerpt from "All I KNow"
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