THE idea of moving to Spain first came to me in 1988 after a holiday on a working farm near Las Negras on the Cabo de Gata, Almería. I’d always felt at home in Mediterranean countries.

The light invariably boosted my spirits, while damp dismal England brought me down. My plan was to bring my children, then aged 11 and 9, for a couple of years initially. I was looking at renovated houses with a little land in Axarquía, at that time still very cheap.

Sadly, that plan was foiled but I didn’t give up, just put it on the back burner till the children were independent. 

In the meantime, I worked on my Spanish and visited various places in Spain to help me decide where to live. Everything pointed to Granada – not too big, not too small, with a university and a

rich culture, mountains and the sea not too far away. 

By this time I was approaching fifty. I relished the idea of a new challenge – a different culture and language, a new and (so I imagined) simpler life lived more outdoors. And of course, the sun! 

At the start of 1999 I made the move and have long regarded Granada is my home.

Coming to Spain alone with no job or place to live and not knowing anyone in the city was scary but once I’d embarked on the adventure, it all worked out easier than I’d feared. 

I found a rented studio to live in and a job teaching English (I’d completed an intensive TEFL course beforehand). After a short time I began to make friends, both Spanish and foreign. 

I felt like a young student again, free and wonderfully alive! My biggest setback was losing most of my hearing within a year of emigrating, due to a virus. It made both teaching and improving my Spanish more difficult. However, after a while, I found other ways of earning a living: editing, translation and journalism. But I missed my children and when grandchildren came along, the separation was even harder. Then with the pandemic, I couldn’t even visit and that caused me huge sadness.

I’ve been writing novels since the 1980s but none of them were published. So success only came with my move to Spain. My two published novels are set wholly or partly in Spain. I couldn’t have written them without being immersed in the life of the country, its people and history and culture.

I feel more creative when I have sunlight so in that sense too living in Spain has inspired my work.

Ideas can sit in my head for years before I feel ready to develop them. But even then, when I sit down and make a start, it’s a long process that can take several years. There’s always a lot of research, especially with a historical novel. That can include interviewing people, as for The Red Gene. I need headspace for the idea to develop – plot and characters and voice. The writing itself usually takes at least a year for the first draft. I edit as I go along but plenty of work still remains after finishing the first draft. At this stage I’ll be seeking feedback from beta readers and possibly a professional critique. My favourite stage? The excitement when I’ve embarked on a project and feel it’s at last beginning to take off. At that stage ideas are coming at me constantly and I find myself surrounded by those scraps of paper! The moment when I first set eyes on my book in print. And when readers tell me they loved the book.

Since The Red Gene was published, I’ve written a memoir (probably not destined for publication), a novel, currently with an agent, based on the life of my Viennese grandmother, and I’m now working on a new novel set in England in the 1980s.

I would love to see The Red Gene translated into Spanish. Many Spanish people have asked when they can read a translation. I need a Spanish publisher to show interest.

Readers have also commented that it would make a great film. Ojalá!Find out more about Barara and her work here:


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