Author, actress, and UTM instructor Barbara Radecki on creative inspiration
Author Barbara Radecki is an accomplished actress and writer. Her new novel, The Darkhouse, is about Gemma, a young girl who discovers the dark truth about her identity and her father’s mysterious experiments.
Radecki explains the novel’s curious title by elaborating on Gemma’s journey. “At one point, Gemma, the main character, is going up the lighthouse and she sees that it’s very narrow and enclosed and she says to herself, ‘I realized for the first time it was a darkhouse and not a light one,’” Radecki says. “I just thought that was a perfect definition of where the book had landed, that this girl’s journey was… illuminated by points of darkness.”
The novel’s cover design also holds special significance to Radecki because her daughter, Stefanie Ayoub, designed it for her. As the voice of Sailor Neptune in the English version of Sailor Moon, Barbara was invited to attend Comic-Con. Her agent, Sam Hiyate of The Rights Factory, recommended that she get a postcard made to promote her upcoming novel while she attended.
Radecki asked her daughter to design the postcard and suggested to her publisher that they consider her daughter’s design for the cover. Pleased by the evocative and visceral design, they agreed that it would make a great cover.
Radecki has had many roles as an actress, and when asked what pushed her to transition from acting to writing, she replies, “I think I was meant to be a writer. I think I was acting because I enjoyed it. I mean, acting, if you get permission to be an actor, you get to dress up like people, so it’s a great career if you can get work in it.”
Radecki went on: “The other thing about acting is that you can’t perform a role that doesn’t look like you, so I can’t be a 70 year-old man or a 70 year-old Italian. When you’re a writer, you can be everyone, so to me, there was no comparison once I started to write.”
Radecki is also teaching a screenwriting course at UTM this semester. When asked about her number one tip for aspiring writers, Radecki said, “I think if you have a creative impulse of any kind you should be following through on that impulse, you should be exploring that impulse as much as you can because it is a direct route to your higher self, your higher way of thinking. The best parts of you are in the parts of you that have your creative expression. It’s the part of you that is free, it’s non-judgmental, it doesn’t care about what people think, it doesn’t care about what you think of it.”
She stressed the importance of frequent reading and writing, and believes that refinement and editing should come later in the writing process, after fully indulging the creative impulses.
In addition to teaching, Radecki is working on two other novels. This Life in Circles was the first novel she decided to write after her transition to writing. Radecki describes her other work in progress, Messenger 93, as being about a young girl “who gets a message in the middle of the night. She gets a vision of this crow coming at her and telling her she has to leave to save her sister, save the world, and be the next messiah.”