Interview with Tonya Barbee

Interview by Nadia Brown

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was about 12 years old.  I only did something with it in the past five years.  Through my ordeal with my former husband, I needed to write for therapeutic reasons and it helped me tremendously.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I never did consider myself a writer. I considered myself to be someone who loves to write about how they feel.  I enjoy expressing myself in writing.

What inspired you to write The Little Girl Inside: Owning My Role in My Own Pain

What inspired me to write about this story is my broken relationship, my broken life.  I realized that I had repeatedly married, only to find myself in the same predicament-with the wrong person.  At some point, I had to evaluate my life and the choices that I had made in order to stop repeating the cycle of bad relationships.

How did you come up with the title? 

The publisher and editor who worked with me came up with the title.  After they read it, they said to me that I obviously saw my life as a little girl and I apparently allowed her to make important decisions for me.  But at some point, throughout the pain, I learned that I had to grow up, stop depending on the little girl (through her eyes) and began to see things as they are- from a realistic stand point and be accountable. It grew on me.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, I am in hopes that everyone that reads this book will become enabled to take chances to improve their lives.  Evaluate themselves more so than spending too much time focusing on those that have wronged us.  I want readers to grasp that it’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to make many, as I did but learn from them, grow from them, embrace the errors and move on.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Terry McMillan. I love her work and I would love it if she could mentor me.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a book about the “whole story.”  This one focused on one husband.  I had three.  I am also interested in doing a play write on the next book and from there, a few other stories I have in my brain waiting to be put on paper.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

There are so many entities that have helped me.  One being my partner.  He’s my best friend.  Although marriage is not in the picture right now, we have a very close relationship and he’s been very supportive.  I also have a group of girlfriends whom have been very supportive.  They are the ones that said I needed to narrate my story on paper.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes. I allowed the publisher and editor to suggest I remove 200 pages from the book. I regret that because that was the “whole story” with this particular husband.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Expressing myself in writing became a way for me to vent constructively, even as a little girl.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I love Dean Koonze. He’s brilliant. How does he come up with those story lines? Incredible!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

When I edited the book, I cried.  I cried each time and I didn’t like editing it for that reason. It hurt me to know that I had been so manipulated and it hurt to see it in writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 

I appreciate every reader. I enjoy reading the feedback whether it is good or not so good.  It helps me to grow as a writer and what I love most is hearing my readers say to me that they could relate and now they are not so embarrassed about what they experienced in life.  It’s no reason to be embarrassed if you are working through it. And most importantly I want the female readers to know, no matter what they experience in life, they need to repeat as much as they need to, “I am still a rose!”