Ask the Author: Erin Bartels

What would you like readers to know about you?
I have been a publishing professional for seventeen years, most of that time as a copywriter. I am also a freelance writer, editor, and book coach, as well as a member of Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. When I can scrape up a few minutes of spare time, I can be found wandering through the woods with my camera, painting landscapes in both watercolor and oil, or reading with a semi-spastic Chihuahua mix on my lap. I live in Lansing, Michigan, (Go Green!) with my husband, Zachary, and our son, Calvin. My weekly podcast, Your Face Is Crooked, drops on Monday mornings.
What is We Hope for Better Things about for those who haven’t read it?
When journalist Elizabeth Balsam is asked to deliver a box of old photos to a relative she didn’t know she had, the strange request seems like it isn’t worth her time. But as she explores her great-aunt’s farmhouse with its locked doors and hidden graves, she soon discovers just how dramatically some of the most newsworthy events of the previous two centuries shaped her own family. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. Readers take an emotional journey through time—from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War—to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.
What has been your inspiration for writing We Hope for Better Things?
I wanted to a story about a photographer, who is the unseen person behind every photograph we see. I’m the photographer in my family, so unless I take a selfie, I am rarely in pictures. Same thing with my father, who was the photographer in my family of origin. And because I am an avid student of history, I married that premise with an exploration of racial tensions in our country over the past 150 years, trying to make some sense out of where we find ourselves today by connecting it to what came before. I wanted to provide a way for readers to interact with and understand their history and also offer them hope for a brighter future.
What was your favorite scene or part of We Hope for Better Things to write?
I adored writing any scene between Nora and William. I loved the interplay of tension and attraction between those two characters. I also really enjoyed writing the scene of J.J. taking part in the Detroit Riot. He simultaneously felt drawn to participating in the mayhem and felt ashamed of some of the things he was doing. I love putting characters in situations where they are internally conflicted because I think so much of life plays out that way.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
As a former English major and a longtime publishing professional, I find it difficult to pin down exactly which authors or books made me want to write. I’ve read so many! But any time I encountered, in novels, short stories, or poetry, one of those lines that is just right, that names a feeling I’d always had but didn’t know how to articulate, I wanted to be part of creating that feeling for others.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?

You will likely have to give up something else to fit serious writing into your life. It takes time, sacrifice, and patience (so much patience). But if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. It’s worth the pain in the end.

Where can we find your book?

You can We Hope for Better Things anywhere books are sold. If your local independent bookstore doesn’t have it, they can order it. Or you can get it online at:
Where can we find you?
Twitter @ErinLBartels

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