Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era “Thornleigh” novels including The Queen’s Lady, The King’s Daughter, The Queen’s Captive, and The Queen’s Gamble, all published internationally. Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary thrillers under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle,’ including Beyond Recall (a Literary Guild Selection), After Shock and The Experiment. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold. Her latest thriller, under her own name, is Entrapped. Barbara is passionate about helping emerging writers. She has taught her “Writers Boot Camp” for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. She offers twice-yearly Master Classes that focus on work-shopping each participant’s novel-in-progress. Her popular series of videos “Writing Fiction That Sells” offers ten hours of tips, techniques, and inspiration, and is available online via her website. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.
Now From Barbara herself on Entrapped
I’d say two things set Entrapped apart. First, it’s a thriller based on a true story. I was moved by hearing about a farmer in Alberta, Canada, who happened to settle on land above one of the biggest natural gas deposits in North America. Soon his property was surrounded by the rigs and gas-flaring stacks of oil companies. He watched his livestock sicken and die from the poisoned air and water. He feared for his family’s life. But his complaints were ignored by the companies and by government, so he took matters into his own hands by sabotaging the oil companies’ rigs. Using this sabotage theme, I created Entrapped.
The second things that sets the book apart from other thrillers is the serious issue it addresses. Thrillers are about high stakes, countdowns, and suspense, and Entrapped delivers all these, but I like to use the thriller genre to explore complex themes as well, and to carry important issues to the widest possible audience. Call it Deep Genre. And no issue is more pressing than the global environmental crisis we’ve created.
But no one wants a sermon. So, does a writer slip the serious message into an exciting story and hope the reader gets the benefit, like a medicine? Like when my daughter was little and I’d grind up aspirin and mix it with brown sugar on a spoon?
No, I think the issue itself is fascinating. And I believe that the best way to understand the “message” of environmental crisis is to see it played out by characters we care deeply about, characters thrown into terrible dilemmas in which they are forced to take risks and make hard choices. Characters who illuminate the gripping question we end up asking ourselves: If I were in that situation, what would I do?
In Entrapped, my characters on both sides of the power divide confront one another and are forced to make the hardest choices they’ll ever make. That’s not only compelling drama, it’s also what all of us have to face, as a society, in coming to terms with in changing our environmentally destructive habits.
Woody Allen was once asked: Is sex dirty? His answer was, Yes, if you’re doing it right. Is Deep Genre subversive? My answer is, Yes, if you’re doing it right. Charles Dickens knew this when he wrote his novels to hold a mirror up to the horrors that working class people suffered under unfettered capitalism in nineteenth century London. In our time, John Grisham has often done the same with thrillers about the “little guy” finally beating some form of corporate bully: in The Rainmaker it was the immensely powerful insurance industry, and in The Street Lawyer it was mega-developers who force homeless people to their death. Like Dickens, Grisham uses the thriller genre to say what needs to be said.
I wrote Entrapped to deliver the same kind of conflict, one between the powerful world of Big Oil versus the lone individual pushed to the limit of endurance and taking on the giant. I hope readers enjoy the tale.