Barbara Taylor Bradford addresses the Mount Saint Mary College community. (Photo provided by Mount Saint Mary College)

by Erin-Therese Vecchi

World renowned author Barbara Taylor Bradford, who made her mark on the literary world with her first novel Woman of Substance, visited Mount Saint Mary College on April 18th as a speaker for the Samuel D. Affron Memorial Lecture Series.  After a reception in Mount Saint Mary College’s the Villa, Ms. Bradford engaged the crowed that consisted of students, professors, administration, and local citizens in a dissertation about her life, success, and upcoming book, her 27th novel, Letter from a Stranger.

Ms. Bradford, who was honored with an Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth in 2007, was gracious enough to answer several questions from her fans in a question and answer session after her talk.

Question:  How long does it take you to complete a novel?

Ms. Bradford: It does depend. Woman of Substance took two years. I taught myself with that one. I do a book a year now. I do a lot of research.

Question: Do you read any current/ young authors?

Ms. Bradford: I do read a lot. I don’t read other people’s fiction while writing. I read a lot of nonfiction and history.  (Ms. Bradford commented that she loved Christopher Plumber’s autobiography.)

Question: How many of your books have been turned into movies?

Ms. Bradford: Ten. My favorite was Liam Neeson as Blackie in Woman of Substance. It’s good to have your husband as a producer.

Question: How do you feel about the film process?

Ms. Bradford: Bob’s attitude is, “We’re making a movie and all can’t be on screen.” Can’t film thought process. It’s a different media. I always see the scripts. I wrote the scripts for Hold the Dream and Voice of the Heart. I much prefer being a novelist. I think Bob has controlled a lot so a lot gets on screen, but it’s different. Reading it is private and intimate. A movie is you’re watching it. I compete with TV. I want to describe.

Question: How do fans feel about the movies based on your books?

Ms. Bradford:  My fans are happy to see. No complaints except for one. One fan asked why I allowed Voice of the Heart to be made. They were disappointed with it. I wrote the screen play for that one.

Question: What is your work space like?

Ms. Bradford:  Yellow sofa, red carpet, wall of books, a long folding table with papers and newspaper clippings all over it, a television, a typewriter and a computer. It’s like a sitting room.  I have a beijon frise who is happy to be the only child who is usually in there.

When asked if Ms. Bradford had anything to say to young writers or aspiring writers, Ms. Bradford shared some potent advice.

“The goal must be to write the book because you can’t not write it. You must have an imagination and be a good liar.”

Barbara Taylor Bradford who is in the company of John Steinbeck, Earnest Hemingway, and Langston Hughes in the Writers Hall of Fame of America, can now add Mount Saint Mary College to the number of places she has seen. For authors of her caliber to come to Mount Saint Mary College is vindication for Mount Saint Mary College.