Barbara Kellyn

Okay y’all, I am about to Fangirl out, big time!

Today’s guest on Interviews with Indies is romcom author extraordinaire, Barbara Kellyn. A writer whose books are engaging and entertaining and whose writing is smart and witty and so damn fun! I admire her and wish she would teach a Masterclass on how to write ‘blurbs’ for books. (I may have hit her up once or twice for some personal help.) If I had the money, this is one author I’d love to physically visit just so I could buy her a coffee and hang out and chat about writing, and life and love and how she so seamlessly writes her characters.

Canadian romcom author Barbara Kellyn is tickled that readers have crowned her “the Queen of Banter.” Having published five romantic comedy novels and a Christmas novella, Barbara’s MO is writing funny, steamy stories about likeable heroines worth rooting for and alluring heroes worth the trouble of falling for.

So to soothe my own curiosities, let’s get the burning questions out of the way first.

Nicole: Coffee or tea?

Barbara: Coffee. I can’t imagine how people start the day without a cup.

Morning or night? 

Morning. My day usually starts before 5 a.m., as my brain wakes up just rarin’ to go. I’ve always been an early bird. (Hence, the coffee.)

Greek gods or Roman gods? 

I never really thought about it, but I may have a subliminary preference since I named my fictional small town in Forever Endeavor after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and endings (Janus Lake is “a speck on the map known for its fishing and a bizarre statue of a Roman god in the middle of town.”).

Unicorns or dragons? 

My late father loved St. George and the Dragon and all things related to the mythical beasts (we got our first tattoos together – can you guess what he chose for his?). One of his favorite sayings was: “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.” Needless to say, dragons hold a special place in our family.

Okay, now that we have that cleared up. I present to you, Barbara Kellyn. 
I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to do this interview.

Thanks so much for having me, but I thought we were going to meet at one of your charming, Old World trattorias in Italy for this chat. Next time! At least we don’t need passports today. 🙂

Oh, a totally missed opportunity on my part! Yes, Next time we go to Tuscany!


I know this is a loaded question so let’s make it a two parter. (You know, to make it longer.) When did you decide you wanted to be an author? And can you tell us a little about the path that led to publication?

Growing up, I always loved writing and drawing. Reading Nancy Drew and Judy Blume planted a seed in me at a young age that maybe I, too, could become a professional storyteller. I dabbled a bit, but it wasn’t until I turned 37 or 38 that I discovered romcom author Jennifer Crusie’s fast, funny style. It turned that innate storytelling seed into a seedling, and I just had to try my hand at writing romantic comedy! I competed in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, and from there, was motivated to send out queries to agents and editors to maybe fulfill my dream of being published by the time I turned 40. And I did it!

My first two books were with a small publisher (btw, if you’re a new author, try to find an editor who totally gets you and will champion your work!). But when the publishing house was sold, I was offered the opportunity to retain the rights to my books and go the self-publishing route. Unfortunately, around that time, I was also going through a divorce after a 20-year marriage, which caused my creative momentum to stall for a long time. Eight years as a matter of fact. It was hard to write about romance when you’re nursing a broken heart (a theme that resurfaced in Forever Endeavor). Happily, in 2020, I got back in the saddle and started writing again. I re-released my radio romance Morning Man, and put out my second-chance romcom Déjà You within a few months. I’ve put out a new release every year since.

When I read your books, I can TELL you are having fun, and I’m often laughing and having fun right along with you. What is your favorite part about writing?

Writing dialogue, especially the really fun banter, is my favorite part of writing and it’s a sure sign that I’ve fallen in love with a story. When you become so engaged with what’s happening in a scene that it plays out like a movie in your head, the dialogue flows so much better when you’re in tune with your characters, there’s really nothing better to me as a writer.

Do you have any odd/fun writing habits? Like do you keep an old tissue of Nora Ephron’s in a plastic baggie under your keyboard?

Ha ha … I’m afraid I don’t. Not sure if you’d consider it odd, but I can’t write in complete silence. I need to have the TV or music playing in the background.

In your Christmas novella, Comfort and Joyce, your main character works as a cuddle therapist. I have to admit, I actually had to look that profession up. I’m just curious what the research was like for that one.

Years ago, and I’m talking way before the pandemic, I stumbled on an article about professional cuddlers in the Washington Post. I thought it might make an interesting choice of profession for a character, especially when you consider the intimacy issues that could intersect with it. I tucked the article into my idea file, and clipped a few more cuddler stories I came across. When I started noodling around ideas for a holiday story with a prickly, Scrooge-type main character, the idea of a nurturing, gentle, touchy-feely type seemed like a perfect counterpoint. What could be more nurturing than someone who has so much to give, they’ll give it away to strangers? That is the heart of Comfort and Joyce.

Your book Morning Man (so good by the way) takes place in a radio station, and I know you pulled from your personal experience working in a radio station. I was curious what role you played at the station, and did any ‘characteristics’ from your time there make their way into the book?

Starting in college, I worked at three radio stations, doing on-air announcing, writing copy for commercials and overseeing sales promotions. The station I worked at after I graduated was a country music station located – I kid you not – in a wheatfield on the outskirts of town. That wild west experience was really the inspiration for Morning Man, from the tiny news booth with the “fugly” shag carpet on the walls for soundproofing, to working alongside DJs with big egos and crazy on-air antics (if anyone reading this is old enough to remember WKRP’s Johnny Fever – the truth is not far from fiction!). There is definitely a lot of their good-natured swagger in Morning Man’s Tack Collins.

Can I just tell you that your book Saint Dick was perfection all around? From the fun clever title, to the seamless way you dealt with the jump from present to backstory and the pacing … I was grinning and couldn’t read it fast enough. How did the storyline and main characters find you?

Thanks so much, Nicole! I had such great fun writing Saint Dick. I’d always wanted to weave a cat and mouse/crime caper type theme into one of my romcoms – make it funny and steamy, but with a thriller kind of twist that will keep the reader guessing.

I mined a real-life incident about a skeevy older boy who once “stole” a kiss from me, and it kind of snowballed into creating a “morally gray” anti-hero who’s his own worst enemy. I started thinking: what if stealing a kiss was just the tip of the iceberg? Did it become a lifelong pattern of shady behavior? What happened to the girl he stole the kiss from? What effect did it have on her? And what if they met up again as adults, what good and bad emotions would that stir up? The story is set at Christmas, so ultimately, I wanted it to be about redemption, forgiveness, and of course, the power of love.

What are you currently working on?

I have a couple new works on the go. First up is a reverse age gap (she’s older) that features one of readers’ favorite and funniest characters from Forever Endeavor. Get ready to return to Janus Lake! I’m also working on a romcom about an art gallery owner who leads the fight against censorship in her small-minded hometown and finds an unexpected ally in the town’s new rock ‘n’ roll loving, motorcycle riding preacher.

I love the photo you have of yourself with the coffee cup “to do list” that says Write a novel (which is crossed off) and then underneath says write another novel. Can I steal that idea and make one for myself? Not really a gripping question, but one I actually keep meaning to ask you.

Isn’t that mug the best? I bought it for myself as a reward for completing NaNoWriMo one year (I think I’ve done it about 5 or 6 times now). I can’t tell you how much it thrills me that I’ve now crossed five novels off my writing to do list. I guess that means I’m gonna have to get a new mug!

I could ask so many more questions, so I reserve the right to do more interviews with you in the future. (Please?) But for now, thank you so much for your time! I truly appreciate it.

Thanks Nicole. It’s been awesome to discover and connect with so many talented people like you inside the indie author community. I love your books and I appreciate you taking the time to spread the word about others’ work. But next time we chat, let’s make it over cappuccinos in Tuscany!


Isn’t she the coolest? I told you so! To find out more about Barbara, visit her website, check out her books and follow her on ye old socials. 

Find Barbara on Instagram and Threads: @barbarakellynauthor