I’m so thrilled to welcome Jennifer Robin Barr back to BookEnds! Jennifer has previously written non-fiction guides for adults, but is coming back to us as writer of middle grade and picture book fiction!
As you may have seen from #MSWL, I’ve been dying to find some baseball-centric middle grade. Jennifer’s book is just what I’ve been looking for! It’s a story of friendship and forgiveness, set during the Golden Age of baseball. And the voice is spot on middle grade. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ve never been more excited for a baseball team that wasn’t my hometown’s!
I hope you enjoy learning more about Jennifer Robin Barr and her books!
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
My writing process is pretty simple. For novels I will often come up with an idea and keep it in my head for some time, thinking about the different angles that I can approach the story. I tend to write a chapter outline before doing much else. This allows me to jump ahead and write a later chapter if I suddenly have an urge or idea that I need to get on paper. Depending on the project, I’ll write (or do research) three or four days a week, and try to read on my off days.
The best part of my writing process for both picture books and middle grade novels is my writing group, all of whom I met at a Pocono SCBWI conference years ago. There are few days that go by without some sort of email or group text with one another, sharing goals, chapters, outlines, or even just cheering each other on. We meet one or two times per year for weekend retreats (so much fun!), and their feedback is an important part of my writing process.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes! When I am on a deadline I have a favorite table at a favorite family-owned coffee shop in my hometown, where I order my favorite tea and favorite breakfast sandwich. I’ll grab the table at 7:00am before the morning crowd, and stay through the lunch crowd. Most other spots, and even other tables at the same shop, feel uninspired.
I also have a thing for journals – a particular brand and style of journal. It’s an especially important ritual when I’m trying to organize research for historical fiction. I start with a fresh one at the beginning of each new project.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
I wish I had written Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I checked it out from my elementary school library over and over again. It was so different from anything I had ever read before, and for a book written in the 1950s, it was probably ahead of it’s time. For an eight-year-old it was pretty scary and magical and all-around wonderful. I look back on that story and realize it was definitely part of what made me love to read.
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
This is a great question! There are so many…
I’d love to meet Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book is one of my favorite memories from when my children were little kids. We listened to it on audiotape during a family road trip to Niagara Falls, and they were so enthralled that they preferred the car to the sites. I’m sure I would have a million questions about his writing process, but I think it would be fun to share that story and fan-girl as well.
That experience also made me realize how books can be great family time too, and shortly after we read the entire Harry Potter series aloud – which was life-changing to the kids for obvious reasons. I love books that bond parents and children together, and I’d like to talk with any author that has had that affect.
Of course, I’d also like to meet Jane Austen – just because I love Jane Austen. Or better yet, I’d love to be at a dinner party with both Jane Austen and Neil Gaiman and see where the conversation goes!
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
I am so thrilled to join the BookEnds family! Tracy is enthusiastic and eager, seems to have a similar curiosity to all things historical, and I think we can genuinely talk for hours. I think having an agent who is also a writer helps, and I hope to be celebrating her successes as well. I am very excited to work with her.
I also love when things come full-circle and feel like they were meant to be. I first met Jessica Faust when she was my editor for The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bridal Showers, and again a few years later when she represented me for a book called, The Everything Scrapbooking Book. It was a great experience and when I learned that BookEnds was starting to include middle grade and picture books, I was eager to query.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
I work at a small liberal arts college, and so when I’m not writing you can always find me there. Everything on campus makes the best environment for creativity. I am so thankful for every day that I get to spend working with students who inspire me.
Aside from work, I have daughters that love the stage and the softball fields. Sometimes in the Spring I can be found running from softball tournaments to theater performances and back again. And of course, you can always find me rooting on our Philadelphia teams.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
Thank you, Jennifer – I’m so excited to have you on my team!