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Take 5 with Barbara O’Neal: THIS PLACE OF WONDER

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Longtime Writer Unboxed contributor and multi-published bestselling author Barbara O’Neal has a new book releasing this coming Tuesday, July 19th, and we know you want to know all about it! THIS PLACE OF WONDER has received a starred review from Booklist (“Kristin Hannah readers will thoroughly enjoy the family dynamic, especially the mother-daughter relationships”) and received accolades aplenty from authors across the board.

Would you like to read some details about this “engrossing, empathetic, and profoundly moving” (Camille Pagán) book “about hurt and healing and women finding their way together” (Julie Powell)? Read on.

Q: What’s the premise of your new book?

Barbara O’Neal: When big-hearted chef August Beauvais dies suddenly, he leaves four women to grieve him–his ex-wife Meadow, with whom he built a family and an empire, and who still loves him; his daughter Maya from his first wife, hanging on to sobriety by a thread; Norah, his current girlfriend who should be an enemy of the others but isn’t; and Meadow’s daughter Rory, the most stable and grounded of the group. It’s a story about what makes a family and how we heal from the big and little traumas in our lives.

Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

Barbara O’Neal: It’s a story about women’s relationships, and how those connections help us and challenge us and heal us–if we let them. Augustus is a bigger than life character all of his life (and I loved writing him!), but it’s the women who matter.

Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

Barbara O’Neal: This is a story about healing. Maya is fresh out of rehab and needs to stay sober; Norah left everything she’d built for a wild affair with the charming Augustus and now has to grapple with her betrayal of herself. Meadow has to learn how to live without Augustus in the world, and what things are next for her in her life. What does her life look like when she’s free of the powerful, challenging relationship with her ex-husband and business partner and lover?

Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

Barbara O’Neal: Getting a character on the page who is dead from page one was a bit tricky!

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?   

Barbara O’Neal: I love the setting so madly. I used to teach in Santa Barbara for a few summers and adored it, and it’s home to the Santa Barbara Mission style house, which Augustus leaves to Maya.  But I also really loved exploring addiction and recovery in a woman’s life, and how that reaches through entire families. Maya’s journey was very powerful and I loved her character very much.

Learn more on Barbara’s website, and by previewing the book below. 

Congratulations, Barbara! 



Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~50 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. In 2014, the first Writer Unboxed UnConference (part UNtraditional conference, part intensive craft event, part networking affair) was held in Salem, MA. Learn more about our 2019 event, ESCAPE TO WuNDERLAND, on Eventbrite. In 2016, the Writer Unboxed team published a book with Writer's Digest. AUTHOR IN PROGRESS: A No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published has been well-received by readers who seek help in overcoming the hurdles faced at every step of the novel-writing process--from setting goals, researching, and drafting to giving and receiving critiques, polishing prose, and seeking publication. James Scott Bell has said of the guide, "Nourishment for the writer's soul and motivation for the writer's heart." You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, and join our thriving Facebook community.

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