Nfld. & Labrador

Romance novelist Victoria Barbour getting international attention

A romance novelist from Newfoundland and Labrador has earned a spot on USA Today's bestseller's list.

Book called 'Geek God' lands on USA Today bestselling list

Newfoundland romance novelist Victoria Barbour is now a USA Today bestselling author. (CBC)

Believe it or not, Victoria Barbour wasn't always a romantic.

She was once a self-described "wild girl."

It's unlikely that many of her friends would have envisioned that as she approached 40, she would be making waves on the international scene as a romance novelist.

But that's exactly what this self-published author from Newfoundland and Labrador has done.

Barbour's novel, Geek God, is part of a 10-book bundle — the nine other books were written by American authors — that recently made the USA Today bestselling list.

It's quite an accomplishment for Barbour, whose books have a strong Newfoundland influence.

"I'm just so passionate about Newfoundland that I can't not write about here," Barbour said during an interview with Here and Now.

Sold more than 100,000 e-books

Barbour's writing career has taken flight over the past two years. She has published six romance novels and plans to have six more finished by the end of 2015.

Most are set in the fictional community of Heart's Ease, Trinity Bay.

She has sold more than 100,000 electronic versions of her books, primarily in the United States, earning her enough money to stay at home with her young son and continue to dream up characters and storylines.

"I'm certainly not wealthy, but I'm able to make a living," she said. 

"This is my career. This is what I do seven days-a-week."

Barbour is deeply in love with her home province, and doesn't have to look far for inspiration.

"I read a lot of romance novels, and I thought to myself, people like the windswept cliffs and they like the quaint villages and they like the small town feel. We have all that in Newfoundland," she said.

Romance nothing to be ashamed of

Barbour has dabbled in many genres in her writing career.

She credits her late grandmother's influence for setting her on her current path.

Elizabeth Hampden was a avid reader of romance novels, and helped instill a love of reading and writing into her granddaughter.

I read a lot of romance novels, and I thought to myself, people like the windswept cliffs and they like the quaint villages and they like the small town feel. We have all that in Newfoundland.- Victoria Barbour

Nearly six years ago, Hampden was diagnosed with cancer and died within three months.

She left all her romance novels to her granddaughter.

After she finished reading them, Barbour decided she could write one.

"What reading those books did for me, that I didn't expect, was that they gave me such a release and such an escape and it made me realize that romance isn't something to be ashamed of. You shouldn't be ashamed of reading it, and you shouldn't be ashamed of writing it because it fills a need that people have. 

"For me that need was an escape to a happier place. And out of that I thought, I want to do that for other people. And I think I can, and I think Nan would be really proud of me."

Attractively priced bundle

Barbour said being named to the bestseller's list "was something that was completely out of left field."

She said it's common for a group of self-published authors to package their books into an attractively priced bundle in order to reach more readers.

"It just happened that there was something about this set that people really wanted to order it and in our very first week we hit that list," she said.

Barbour said there are pros and cons to being self-published, but she can't imagine doing it any other way.

She comes from a strong business background, with her family establishing Ches's Fish and Chips, a highly recognizable chain of restaurants.

"I have a very business oriented mindset," she said. 

"I grew up knowing about what it takes to run a business and I thought, I want to do this. I want to be in control."

With files from Amy Stoodley


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