Sunday, February 10, 2013
A Moment with Jennifer Barry
Tell us about Side Effects?
Side Effects is the story of a teen boy suffering anxiety disorder during the hardest years of life—high school. In addition to his irrational fears and physical reactions, he also faces falling in love for the first time. Grace is no ordinary girl, and through Isaac’s new friendship with her, he also finds strength.
What sets your most recent release, Side Effects, from other books of the same genre?
As an anxiety sufferer, I gave Isaac despair without exploiting the disorder and hope without unrealistic expectations.
How is the book doing so far?
For a niche novel, the sales are doing quite well. As a tool for encouraging those with anxiety and educating those who love someone with the disorder, the book has performed beyond my wildest dreams.
Any future releases reader should be aware of?
I’m always planning something. First, I’ll release the follow-up to my Irish mythology series, The Kingdom. Titled The Morning Star, the book continues the story in New York City, where heroine Lily begins life as a student at Juilliard, and her fairy prince boyfriend Rioghan stays behind in Ireland to claim his throne.
Next, the first in a new paranormal teen series, The Oracles of St. Ambrose: Going Under, will release. This is the story of a high society boy from New York City relocating to Nashville, only to discover on his first day of swim practice that he gained some strange psychic gifts somewhere during the move. He teams up with two other teens from a different social class and learns a lot about himself and what true wealth is while solving the mystery of the Queen Bee’s death.
Finally, the follow up to Side Effects is in the works. Soundtrack tells the story of two fringe characters in Side Effects, Travis and Becky. Travis is the handsome school bully with a secret—he has ADHD and his grades are bad enough to get him kicked off the basketball team. Becky is the quiet girl who first faces his scorn and then discovers a tool to help him get his schoolwork—and his life—back on track.
Outside of my YA work, I’ve co-authored a hockey romance novel with Melissa Fox, the author of Wraith Redeemed from Wild Rose Press. Brody Clark is the hot hockey phenom who falls for celebrated chef Anna Bloom and realizes his free agent days may be over.
Are you reading anything right now, or have you read anything recently that is worth mentioning?
Since we’re in the editing process for the hockey romance, Final Score, I’ve been delving into some Nora Roberts lately.
Does music inspire or motivate you to write? If so, what kind of music?
I have a playlist for every book, and each list includes songs from across the board. I love folk/rock singers like Bobby Long, The Weepies, and Swear and Shake, unsigned bands who aren’t afraid to push the envelope like Heyrocco, Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, and Lee MacDougall, but I also like to settle in with some classic faves like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Oasis.
I usually pick an unofficial theme song for each book, too. The Side Effects song is Hang On by Guster or Bones by Swear and Shake.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite novels?
I love LM Montgomery for creating one of the most beloved heroines in all of literature and strive to build characters just as strong, flawed, and loveable as Anne Shirley. Harper Lee gave us another beautiful, strong heroine in Scout, and taught us not to judge anyone by what’s on the outside, to love everyone equally the way a child does. JD Salinger’s Holden Caulfield is both loved and reviled. Such strong reactions to a lost boy on the cusp of adulthood—a boy who wants so desperately to be a man but doesn’t yet possess the maturity—can only be wrought by a skillful author with his finger on the pulse of humanity. We either love him or hate him because of whatever Holden we see in ourselves.
Are you one of those people who don’t own a TV? Do you have any favorite TV Shows? Favorite movies?
We have a television, but I rarely watch. I usually have headphones in so I can ignore whatever my husband is watching. I couldn’t get any writing or editing done otherwise. I do plan some movie nights, though. We’re fans of the indies and a lot of Irish movies. My top five, in no particular order, are Snatch, Michael Collins, The Boondock Saints, Tombstone, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We recently watched In Bruges, and I’m still trying to decide which to kick out of my top five so that one can take a spot.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I recently found my notebooks from “novels” I wrote when I was twelve. That’s all I’ll say about them.
Tell us about your writing process.
The process has been different for every book. With The Kingdom, I started with one character—a sidekick—and built the story from there. After writing the first four chapters, I wrote the last chapter of the last book in the series. I wanted to know where I was going so I’d always remember the way to get there.
With Side Effects, I started with a short story that focused more on the hope and less on the suffering. When I had the chance to really expand the story, I started from scratch and rebuilt new characters with real feelings and imperfect reactions.
The Oracles of St. Ambrose rolled around in my brain for two years until I sat down one day and wrote straight through, beginning to end, in five weeks. As expected, the editing on this one is taking much longer.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important?
Some characters I name after friends or family simply to honor them or because I love the name. Others I choose because of particular meanings. Rioghan, the hero of The Kingdom, means “little king” in Gaelic. Grace, the heroine of Side Effects, was named because of her unusual patience and understanding.
How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?
When one person tells me my words reached him or her, I feel successful.
Do you have words of wisdom about writing that you want to pass on to novelists and writers out there who are starting out?
There is only so much room for the JK Rowlings and Stephen Kings of the world. In reality, most successful writers have never had a number one bestseller. They simply keep at it and build a body of work that brings in royalties enough to live on. With realistic expectations of success, you can be successful.
What should readers walk away from your books knowing? How should they feel?
I hope people see hope in anything I write. Whether that hope comes from love, learning, acceptance depends on the book and the personal situation of the reader.
What is your End of the World Playlist?
If the end of the world doesn’t come until the playlist ends, then I’d say everything in my iTunes, plus a few I haven’t yet purchased. I’d like to hear them all again at least once.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Bio: Jennifer M. Barry knows she’s in trouble when people use her whole name, so just Jen is fine. She started her creative career in opera performance, a skill she now only uses on Friday nights for karaoke. Since leaving the stage, she has written fantasy and contemporary novels for young adults and worked as a freelance blogger and ghostwriter. She also works with independent writers and publishers to edit and prepare novels for publication.
In addition to writing and editing, she loves to drink coffee, consume entirely too much Cherry Garcia, laugh at herself on her blog, and watch live music. Jen lives in Nashville with her husband, Liam. They just bought their first house and are freaking out about taxes, redecorating, return on investment, and a million other grown-up things. Life is officially weird.
Trapped on Earth since the fall of Lucifer, Prince Rioghan has left thousands of broken hearts in his wake, and he wants Lily’s to be the next. His father, the High King of Fairies, expects Rioghan to behave like the royal he is, but the challenge Lily presents is too inviting.
Accustomed to living in her famous mother's shadow, Lily guards her heart behind a prickly exterior. The harder she resists, the faster he falls, until she becomes the very center of his existence.
When Rioghan chooses love over the power of the throne, he infuriates his father and upsets the age-old balance between good and evil. A battle is coming—a fight to the death for true love, honor, and The Kingdom.
High school can be Hell on Earth, a fact Isaac Matthews knows all too well. How is a guy supposed to deal with Anxiety Disorder, adolescent hormones and college and career choices all at once? On top of all that, he meets Grace—the beautiful, outgoing new girl who shakes his very foundation and grounds him at the same time.
His new medication should make him better, but he knows there’s a chance he could just get worse. Warning: Side Effects may include increased heart rate, dry mouth, interrupted speech, elevated body temperature, and dizziness or lightheadedness upon seeing her smile.