Barbara Claypole White grew up in the English village of Turvey with big dreams of becoming a novelist. So, armed with a history degree from York University, she went to work in the London fashion industry. When she failed to snag the job of her dreams as an assistant fashion editor, her boss sent her to New York on business. Halfway home—somewhere over the Atlantic—she fell for the handsome American professor who had picked her up at JFK Airport with a well-informed comment about English author P.D. James. (Fiction matters, people.)
Eighteen months later, Barbara embarked on a new life as a faculty spouse, freelance writer, and marketing director in a small midwestern college town. She also had a dirty little secret: she was writing a novel. Set against the backdrop of eighties fashion and the arrival of AIDS in London, it was spectacularly bad.
Then Barbara learned she was pregnant, and her husband was offered a distinguished professorship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The family moved to the forest outside the historic town of Hillsborough, and Barbara became a stay-at-home mom and a woodland gardener. Both passions would shape and guide her writing voice. She also started a new manuscript called Dogwood Days, but her writing ground to a halt when her young son was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
They entered into exposure therapy, and Barbara focused on learning everything she could about anxiety disorders. Growing up, she had watched family members struggle with mental illness in secrecy and shame. She was determined that would not happened to her son. As he began the slow journey toward reclaiming his life, Barbara returned to her manuscript and set about teaching herself the art and business of writing. One day, while she was daydreaming, a charismatic entrepreneur with severe OCD strolled into her imagination and refused to leave. His name was James Nealy.
Barbara rewrote Dogwood Days with James as her hero. When it won second place in the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards for Novel First Chapter, she began to think, “Maybe.” She joined a nonfiction project for parents of children with invisible disabilities called Easy to Love But Hard to Raise, began blogging through the highs and lows of life with OCD, and landed an agent and a two-book deal. Dogwood Days became The Unfinished Garden and won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book. The In-Between Hour, which was chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick, followed. She also became an OCD advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity.
Her third novel, The Perfect Son, was picked for Amazon’s Kindle First Program and became a Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 Nominee for Best Fiction. Echoes of Family, another darkly quirky BCW tale, launches in September 2016, and Barbara is hard at work on novel five (technically six)...when she’s not waging war against squirrels and voles in her garden.
But what of her brilliant son, formerly known on Facebook as the Beloved Teenage Delinquent? He turned twenty-one and is still her muse. An OCD warrior of fearless compassion, he’s an award-winning poet/musician at Oberlin College and a trainee sound engineer at a recording studio not unlike Nightjar in Echoes of Family. Barbara and the Prof firmly believe he will change the world.
Barbara’s tattoo, nil desperandum, is taken from the Claypoole family crest and means never despair. Her sister, Susan Rose, an artist specializing in bespoke English bone china, designed the tattoo. www.susanrose.co.uk