By Christopher Zoukis / February 4, 2014
Today, I’m pleased to interview Barbara Carole about her memoir Twelve Stones which tells the story of an intensely personal, unorthodox journey to faith. Gritty, plain-spoken and fast paced, this book reads like a novel – with vibrant characters, dialogue and action on three continents – but it is all true.
Barbara, a Fulbright scholar and graduate of the University of Wisconsin with B.A. and M.A. degrees in literature, lived in Paris for several years as a translator and assistant editor at the Paris Review before returning to the USA to teach French and French literature at UCLA.
Subsequently, she was a writer and researcher for undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, working in Los Angeles and Monaco, France.
Barbara worked for 20+ years as a marketing executive before leaving the corporate world to focus on her writing. For more on her background and on the book, visit www.barbaracarole.com.
Christopher Zoukis: Barbara, Twelve Stones is a very intimate story. How does it feel to have such personal details of your life in print for everyone to see?
Barbara Carole: Ha! A lot of people ask me that. Telling it all honestly wasn’t easy, but I wanted the reader to know me exactly as I was, with no sugar coating. Because the whole point of the story is that imperfect people can find perfect love. Even ordinary people who make poor decisions, can experience extraordinary miracles.
Christopher Zoukis: Parts of your book had me laughing; other parts just broke my heart. Was it hard to write about the pain and losses?
Barbara Carole: Yes, it was hard. Some chapters took a long time before I found the courage. But a strange thing happened in the process: when I finished the manuscript, it no longer felt like it was my life; it was just a story. It flowed out of my heart and onto the paper, washing out the sting of hardship, the pain of betrayals and the harshness of loss. All those things remain in my memory, of course, and they were in fact my life, but now I can retain the memory without the pain. I can see a greater picture now, and what became of that life in the end, was just beautiful.
Christopher Zoukis: Why did you write Twelve Stones?
Barbara Carole: I told the whole story (the fun parts and the painful) to convey a single point: God honors an honest quest for truth, even the quest of a scornful non-believer. I had also made some dreadful mistakes and poor decisions that led to disaster. But miracles still happened. They happened to me. And because I am much like you, they might, just maybe, happen to you, too.
Christopher Zoukis: Twelve Stones reads more like a novel than a memoir or spiritual-journey. Why did you write it this way?
Barbara Carole: Twelve Stones is written like a novel, because my life was like a novel. It was kind of quirky, both daring and foolish, with a lot of colorful adventures in various parts of the world. But it is also extremely realistic. This is no "magic-wand" conversion" story like so many out there where the evil person is touched by the hand of God and instantly becomes a self-sacrificing saint. I don't believe that's real. Turning from one life to another, changing your basic paradigm is a difficult process. Twelve Stones takes you along with me through that process. There's nothing lofty or "religious" in Twelve Stones. It is earthy and honest, and written from the perspective of a non-believer, because that’s who I was.
Christopher Zoukis: You had a long career in advertising and public relations before you wrote Twelve Stones. How did that compare with being an author?
Barbara Carole: It's all writing, but it's a different kind of creativity. Writing marketing materials requires communicating effectively to persuade. Writing my memoir and novels I'm concerned about literary and artistic value, and I bare my soul. It leaves me naked and very vulnerable.
Christopher Zoukis: How many times do you revise your manuscript?
Barbara Carole: As many times as needed to make it better.
Christopher Zoukis: What have you learned from writing Twelve Stones?
Barbara Carole: For one thing I learned that if you are open and honest, it doesn’t really shock people. It makes them open up to honesty, too – often for the first time in their lives. For another thing, it amazed me that people found my story interesting. I thought, "Who wants to hear about this?" But people write to me from all over the country to say how profoundly it impacted their lives. They say things like, "I was up all night, I couldn’t put it down." I hear that a lot and each and every time, I am astounded and thrilled all over again.
Christopher Zoukis: How can people find out more about you and Twelve Stones? And where can they get it?
Barbara Carole: My website, www.barbaracarole.com, has lots of information (including where the title comes from) and sample pages… and Amazon has reader reviews. It’s available on Kindle and in hardcover everywhere.
Christopher Zoukis: Thanks so much – not just for your time today, but for writing Twelve Stones! It was one of life’s great adventures to read it.
Christopher Zoukis is a noted legal commentator and a prolific writer of books, book reviews, and articles. His articles on prison law and prison education appear frequently in Prison Legal News, and have been published in The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, Blog Critics, Midwest Book Review, Basil and Spice, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, AND Magazine, Frock Magazine, Rain Taxi, Ezine Articles, Articles Base, and others. His content is syndicated regularly by the Associated Press, Google News, Yahoo News, and the FedCURE news network.
The founder of PrisonEducation.com, PrisonLawBlog.com, and ChristopherZoukis.com, Christopher is also a regular contributor to the Education Behind Bars Newsletter. Throughout the years he has also written for the State and Federal Criminal Law Review, The Update: Federal Criminal and Immigration Law, the Corcoran Sun and the Texas Criminal Law Review.
In 2011, Christopher’s creative work won two PEN American Center Prison writing awards, one for a screen play and another for a short story.
(First published by Blog Critics and used here by permission)