Meet Anjanette Barr
Tell us a little about yourself
I'm Anjanette Barr, and I live in beautiful Juneau Alaska! I'm wife to a librarian and homeschooling mama to four children. When I'm not writing or homeschooling, I spend as much time outdoors or in a book (or outdoors in a book) as possible. Juneau has ample opportunities for hiking and foraging, and I've also turned our own little property into a micro-homestead with ducks, chickens, worms for vermiculture, and lots of garden space. I have a second Instagram account for homeschooling and homesteading photos @anjanettebarr. My family just came into the Catholic Church at Easter of 2018 after decades in Protestant communities.
Tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now? How does it influence your writing?
I grew up in Kansas (in a city, not on a farm) and lived in the Midwest until just six years ago when we accepted this adventure up North. The spirit of Kansans and Alaskans is similar in many ways, and this place has come to feel like home. We're a little isolated and off the beaten path, and both states are full of interesting, down-to-earth people. You'll rarely see someone dressed formally here in Juneau, and there's an understanding that pretense is unnecessary and unflattering. I feel encouraged and supported to be creative and innovative here, and there's inspiration everywhere.
How did you get started writing?
I've always written. I hand-copied original poems on construction paper and bound them into books to sell during elementary school, and later wrote short stories. When the internet became "a thing" in middle school, I was the very first to have a blog (called an online journal back then) and a personal website (anyone remember angelfire??). I'm 35, so that was a looong time ago in the age of dial-up and free-trial internet cds in the mail. Google didn't exist and we researched everything with Yahoo! However, despite writing online for many years, I didn't consider myself a writer until I decided to write a book to help the homeless transitional housing ministry that I was involved with. The process of writing and self-publishing that book, I discovered that I love everything about this writing and publishing world!
What does your writing routine look like?
When my children were very little, I often wrote late at night and in snatches during naptime. Now that my youngest is pre-school age and I'm blissfully rested, I try and capitalize on my early-bird nature and think/read/plan before they are awake so that when I get a few minutes in the afternoon or after dinner, I know what I want to write. I turn into a pumpkin at 8pm, so I try to avoid late-night writing.
What are some things you do to get yourself in creative thinking mode?
I've read many authors say that the number one thing you can do to improve your writing is to read. It has been so true for me! When I decided to try my hand at fiction again, I made a goal to read as much as possible in the genre that I wanted to write in - even if it took away from my writing time. I don't regret that at all. So many times while reading I have to stop and write down a turn of phrase that takes my breath away, or I find myself marveling at the way the writer tied everything together seamlessly. If I'm consistently reading, the words seem to spill out of me. I also use Google Keep on my phone so that I can create a little sticky for blurbs and ideas that come to me. If I'm stuck, I'll browse through those until I feel ready to write. I can't listen to music while I write, but normal background noise and silence are both ok for me.
Which authors inspire you and your writing? What about them particularly moves you?
I think my favorite book is Jane Eyre. I'm a huge Tolkien fangirl, and have been since long before I was Catholic. I also love Victor Hugo and Les Miserables changed my life. I love stories that show the humanity of people we would rather avoid, and the propensity for evil in every person, however charming. Some of the other authors on my list of favorites are Willa Cather, Stephen Lawhead, and Francine Rivers. When I want a lighter or quicker read, I always reach for books in the Inspirational Fiction genre, or memoirs.
What was the inspiration for the piece included in our issue?
My piece There are No Auroras in Kansas (Fall 2019, Issue 02) is a true accounting of my transition to the crazy Last Frontier - Alaska. I wrote parts of it just after we moved, and have continued to think about the experiences I described as I've unraveled the secrets of this place.