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Five Questions with Barbara Stark-Nemon

Louise Ahern

Barbara Stark-Nemon is the award-winning author of short stories, essays, and the historical novel, Even in Darkness.  Barbara has degrees from the University of Michigan in English, Art History and Speech-language Pathology. She lives, writes, swims, cycles and does fiber art in Ann Arbor and Northport, MI. You can learn more about her at, or follow her at Facebook- starknemon, twitter @bstarknemon or Instagram bannstark


Barbara was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. We don't know about you, but we're definitely looking forward to her workshop this Wednesday!


1.     What is your favorite part about writing? The most challenging part?

I love the opportunity to immerse myself in other places and times and people and then, the inspiring part that’s also torturous is narrating it back for the reader- getting the words and the scenes and the dialog just right.

2.     What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received? How did you overcome it?

I’ve been pretty lucky to have gotten good writing advice for the most part. I do take some exception to the old adage ‘Write what you know,’ which is good advice to start with. But if you only write what you know, you never get to push yourself to take risks and go deeper as a writer. I’ve developed the habit of checking in with myself when I’m feeling too comfortable to see if I’m avoiding some aspect of a story- glossing over a hard part or letting something go that doesn’t feel quite right.

3.     Looking back, what did you do right that helped you become an author?

I took that first big risk that the story that was burning inside me to get out would be interesting enough to others- and that I could be a good enough writer to bring it successfully to readers.

4.     What would you change or do differently when it comes to your writing career?

I had a wonderful, fulfilling career as a teacher and speech and language therapist, and I raised three kids, but I wish I’d started writing seriously earlier in my life. I feel so lucky to have found a second career to passionately love!

5.     What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished a manuscript for a second novel about a woman of a certain age who wants to start a hard apple cider business on the Leelanau Peninsula, and whose life is upended by a family mystery. Also, this summer, I will travel to Portugal and Spain to research a third novel, about a 14 year-old embroideress who emigrates to Germany at the beginning of the 17th century!!

And, finally, can we get an overview of your upcoming workshop?

A good book starts with a good story. Have one?  In this workshop, we will be considering the important elements of memoir, and where a writer’s decisions diverge from memoir into fiction. I will share some resources, and why I decided to write my family story of Even in Darkness as a novelWe’ll have time for questions, discussion and hey, maybe even some writing!


Don't forget: Barbara will be teaching a workshop THIS Wednesday, March 1st, at the Okemos location of Schuler Books! We hope to see you there!