Excited to talk with Barbara Linn Probst this week. She’s the debut author of the well-received, Queen of the Owls. Welcome Barbara!
Author Name: Barbara Linn Probst
Book Title: Queen of the Owls
Book Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: She Writes Press
Please tell us about your book.
Queen of the Owls is the story of a woman’s quest to claim her neglected sensuality and find her true self hidden behind the roles of wife, mother, sister, and colleague. Framed around the life and art of iconic American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, it dares to ask a question every woman can relate to: what would you risk to be truly seen and known?
What sparked the idea for Queen of the Owls?
In Queen of the Owls Elizabeth, the protagonist, has always been the “brain” while her sister has been the pixie, the butterfly, the minx. She’s been safe in her cerebral, high-achieving world—yet something is missing. While the book is a work of fiction, I know what it’s like to be seen as a “brain” instead of a whole woman. Maybe this sounds corny, but I want to help others heal that split, and I believe that story can touch both mind and heart in a powerful way.
Did you do have to do any research?
Did I ever! Not only did I read everything I could dig out of the archives at the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center in Santa Fe, but I also went to view her paintings for myself, visited the places where she lived and worked, talked to experts and people who knew her. And I got really, really lucky because there was a special exhibit of O’Keeffe’s Hawaii paintings—which is a central focus of the book—brought together for the first time in eighty years, and on view only thirty minutes from where I live! It was such a wild coincidence. Then again, so many things like that happened that I can only conclude that this was a book I had to write.
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
I’m a total perfectionist! I labor and labor over the rhythm, the phrase, the precise word or image. But at some point you just have to let go and trust that you’ve done good work. And then you have to let go again, once your book is out in the world.
What do you love most about it?
I love the total immersion that happens when you’re deeply, deeply connected to the story and characters. It’s a special state when your subconscious mind (where the human truths really live) and your conscious mind (the part that can bring those truths to the surface and give them form) are truly connected. When I’m in that zone, it feels like the story is coming through me, rather than me inventing it.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Queen of the Owls?
I think we all yearn to be whole—and that means embracing the parts of ourselves that we’ve neglected, avoided, denied. I wanted to bring that longing to life in a fresh way, through a compelling narrative that would also allow the reader to learn something new. On the one hand, Queen of the Owls is a universal story that speaks to every woman who’s longed to find her true self. On the other hand, it does that in an original way, by interweaving the story of the ever-fascinating Georgia O’Keeffe.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I’m what they call a “serious amateur” pianist—something I totally love because it engages a completely different part of me that has nothing to do with words! I also love to cook, hike, and travel. I’ve spent extended time in Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Scotland, Iceland, Italy—well, you name it! I think it’s really important to get out of your comfort zone and see life in different ways.
I agree! Are you working on a new project?
I sure am! I have a second book coming out next year that’s framed around music rather than art. Stay tuned (no pun intended) for The Sound Between the Notes, launching in April 2021.
Where can readers find you?
To learn more, please follow me on Facebook (Barbara Linn Probst) https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011410511548
or check out on my website: www.BarbaraLinnProbst.com
Although my live events have been postponed, many of them will still happen in the Fall, including a special presentation at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and worked. How cool is that?
Thank you, Barbara! Queen of the Owls is available NOW.
A chance meeting with a charismatic photographer will forever change Elizabeth’s life.
Until she met Richard, Elizabeth’s relationship with Georgia O’Keeffe and her little-known Hawaii paintings was purely academic. Now it’s personal.
Richard tells Elizabeth that the only way she can truly understand O’Keeffe isn’t with her mind—it’s by getting into O’Keeffe’s skin and re-enacting her famous nude photos.
In the intimacy of Richard’s studio, Elizabeth experiences a new, intoxicating abandon and fullness. It never occurs to her that the photographs might be made public, especially without her consent. Desperate to avoid exposure—she’s a rising star in the academic world and the mother of young children—Elizabeth demands that Richard dismantle the exhibit. But he refuses. The pictures are his art, he tells her. His property, not hers.
As word of the photos spreads, Elizabeth unwittingly becomes a feminist heroine to her students, who misunderstand her motives in posing. To the university, however, her actions are a public scandal. To her husband, they’re a public humiliation.
Yet Richard has reawakened an awareness that’s haunted Elizabeth since she was a child—the truth that cerebral knowledge will never be enough.
Elizabeth wants what Georgia had.
But how much is she willing to risk to be truly seen and known?
Barbara Linn Probst is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, living on an historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her debut novel QUEEN OF THE OWLS (April 2020) is the powerful story of a woman’s search for wholeness, framed around the art and life of iconic painter Georgia O’Keeffe. QUEEN OF THE OWLS has been selected as one of the 20 most anticipated books of 2020 by Working Mother and will be the May 2020 selection for the Pulpwood Queens, a network of more than 800 book clubs across the U.S. Her second novel, THE SOUND BETWEEN THE NOTES, will be published in April 2021.
Barbara is also the author of the groundbreaking book on nurturing out-of-the-box children, WHEN THE LABELS DON’T FIT (Random House, 2008). She has a PhD in clinical social work, blogs for several award-winning sites for writers, and is a serious amateur pianist. To learn more about Barbara and her work, please see http://www.barbaralinnprobst.com/