|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. After she failed to snag the job of her dreams—and was wallowing in excessive self-pity—her boss sent her to New York on business. Flying home over the Atlantic, she fell for the handsome American professor who had picked her up at JKF 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 Midwest 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 began her ongoing journey of educating herself about life with anxiety. Growing up, she had watched family members struggle with mental illness in secrecy and shame. She was determined her son would follow a different path. As he began to reclaim his life from irrational fear, Barbara returned to her manuscript. One day, 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 Award 2015 Nominee for Best Fiction. Echoes of Family, another darkly quirky BCW tale, launched in 2016 and was chosen as a finalist for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s annual Star Award. Coming in January 2018, The Promise Between Us revisits Barbara’s passion for chipping away at stereotypes of OCD. She is currently hard at work on novel six (technically seven)…when she’s not waging war against squirrels and voles or gardening with a watchful eye open for Horace, the black snake who likes to scare the UPS guy.
But what of her brilliant son, formerly known on social media as the Beloved Teenage Delinquent? Now the Artist in Residence, he is still her muse and one of her trusted early readers. Dubbed the Warrior Poet by a local magazine when he was still in high school, he graduated from Oberlin College (Phi Beta Kappa) and is now a writer, a musician, and a trainee sound engineer. Barbara and the Prof firmly believe he will change the world.