Author Interview: Barbara Henderson

Barbara HendersonThe very lovely Barbara Henderson is a writer (Fir for Luck came out in 2016, Punch in 2017), puppeteer and drama teacher living in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland.

She loves books, nature’s wild places, history, baking, folk music (she fiddles badly in her church band), old buildings, mosaics, Celtic Christianity, thick woolly jumpers…

With Wilderness Wars, her third novel, hitting the shelves we’re absolutely delighted that Barbara Henderson found time to pop into My Book Corner…

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

I’m a writer, Drama teacher and puppeteer and live in the Highlands with my husband, gang of three teenagers and a shaggy Schnauzer.

Describe your latest novel, Wilderness Wars, in 20 words or less.

What if Nature fights back? An eco-thriller for 8-12 year olds!

How did Wilderness Wars arrive in the world?

A few stars aligned: We had a near-miss of an accident on a journey, seemingly caused by a stone onto our windscreen out of nowhere. Who could have thrown it? A passing gull? At the same time, an American businessman called Donald Trump was causing controversy with plans to bulldoze over unique dune ecosystems in order to build a luxury resort in Aberdeenshire. He got his way. ‘What if nature fights back?’ I wrote into my notebook. The story grew from there. It was rejected by all and sundry while I had some near-misses with other manuscripts, but once Cranachan Publishing took on Fir for Luck and Punch, they asked me: ‘Do you have anything else?’

Of course I did, several completed novels for children. ‘What we mean is: Do you have anything else that you really, really love?’ they clarified.

The answer was a no-brainer, and here we are :).

How would you describe your writing style?

I like fairly simple sentences and snappy chapters. I adore cliffhangers. However hard I try, my best work seems to come out in first person present tense, and there is a sprinkling of the lyrical once I get going…

What makes you happy?

Music, vast old buildings filled with old books, wide open spaces with space to breathe, old crumbling walls with a sense of the past, playing my fiddle in church, spotting some wildlife I haven’t seen before, crowds of kids laughing, the sound of waves crashing onto rocks, a brilliant new shiny idea, coffee – how long have you got? I’m pretty happy most of the time.

Where is your favourite place to write?

There is a cafe called Velocity in Inverness. It’s noisy, and sometimes crowded, with a long table so you’re forced to sit next to folk you don’t know. Music plays, regulars chat. It really, really shouldn’t work, but it does for me!


What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?

I’m reading Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay, and The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein is likely to be next.

What’s your worst habit?

Attempting to do 20 jobs in the next minute and forgetting what I’m doing. As in, forgetting everything!

Your favourite word?

Erm, probably my writer’s ticks: ‘clearly’, ‘stumble’, ‘nodding’ and ‘right’ need to be removed from my first drafts by the sack-load.

What are your top tips for budding childrens’ writers?

Read your work aloud, then do it again to an audience. Don’t dither, make use of your time because there isn’t enough of it. Treat it like a job before it is. And NEVER give up – giving up is the only way to guarantee it’ll never happen. It took me years!

Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)

No bribe needed: I have two! I’m writing a historical MG novel set in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion in 1746. The other one is a smuggler’s story set in South West Scotland. The first draft of that one is done, but the deadline for the Jacobite one is sooner. Eeek!

Did we forget anything?

Forgetting stuff is my job! 🙂 But I don’t think so!

Just for fun

Tea or coffee?

Coffee, and far too much of it! Unless I have a cold, then it’s Earl Grey with lemon.

Paper books or e-books?


Cake or chocolate?


Write or type?

Type – as I say, too little time! But it’s a pretty undignified six-finger affair. Wish I could touch-type!

Poetry or prose?

Mostly prose

Hot or cold?

Somewhere in the middle, surely! 🙂

Wilderness Wars

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