Tell us a little bit about yourself and why/what inspired you to become a writer? When did you start writing?
I literally can't remember when I didn't love telling stories. Most of my "essays" in high school were made more into stories and I wrote more besides. Truthfully, although I wrote stuff before then, the first thing I wrote that I still have is a poem "A Cold Wind on the Hill" that I wrote when I was t13 or 14. Before that, I'd write a poem or a short story or something, read it, think, "That's not too bad," then throw it away. This poem, I showed to my father. Although it might have been the last thing of mine he really enjoyed, he made me keep everything I wrote after that. In high school and into college, I wrote tons of poetry. In college and into real life, I wrote tons of short stories. But, when I dove into novels, I mostly stayed.
I think poetry is a great way to start writing. It can really make you cognitive of the power of language, the sound and cadence, the importance of the right word. Short stories teach a great deal as well, how to introduce and make real characters with a few short lines, how to make dialog feel genuine, how to write for impact.
Since my degree is in Engineering Physics, and I tested out of college English, I'm pretty much entirely self-taught, but I know what I like to read and that's what I write.
What was your inspiration for ‘Nine Lives’?
The whole series was largely inspired by Fruits Basket, not that they're really alike so much but I did like delving into the notion of having a hard time coming to grips with a shape-changing baby. And I liked the matchup that didn't happen in Fruits Basket, so I wrote Beast Within, the first in the series. But I'd always seen it as at least three books, each exploring one of the three friends: Xander, Laren and Rem.
Laren is the obnoxious hotheaded foster brother from Beast Within, and he's funny but often overshadowed by his kickass foster brother, Xander. When I turned to Nine Lives, I wanted to give Laren a chance to shine in ways where he never had because Xander had always been there to do it. By taking Xander out of the equation, Laren had to step up, but do so in a way that didn't negate his character, just grow it up. My husband at the time was convinced I couldn't make Laren totally the star, but he changed his tune and, truthfully, I'm not sure he doesn't like Nine Lives even more than Beast Within.
What three words would you use to best describe Nine Lives?
Laren proves himself.
Can you tell us if you’re working on anything else at the moment?
I've always got some novels in the works, but I haven't really leapt into anything for a while. I have another novel I'm about to put out there, but I finished it a long time ago. Recently, I've been dabbling with short stories again and may play with that until my subconscious figures out what novel it wants to write next.
What was your very first book that you wrote?
First one I wrote was a Regency romance novel called An Unknowing Vow. Don't look for it out there because it's entirely devoid of a plot and I won't do anything with it until I come up with one. The second novel I completed and the first one that's really finished is Curse of the Jenri which I'm hoping to publish by the end of this year or early next year.
Other than your own, what are your favourite books?
This is always a tough question for me because I've spent most of my life as an avid reader, eclectic and diverse. And I don't usually think of titles so much as authors that I devour whole like Robert Heinlein and Robert Ludlum and James Clavell and Frank Herbert and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller and Georgette Heyer and Nora Roberts and the list goes on. I love strong characters and humor in my books; I love to get lost in them.
Now, the past five years or so, I've left much of my novels on the shelf and I've been reading a lot of manga. It's been fascinating for me and I'm not quite sure what I'm trying to soak up with each of them, but all the novels (except Curse of the Jenri and An Unknowing Vow) have been inspired by a character or an idea in manga.
When you are writing to you like to listen to music? What is on your playlist?
I don't listen to music. I like to listen to music I can sing to and I can't have words coming at me when I'm writing. So, writing is one of the few things I do without a music background. Music is great for doing math, though.
When I listen to music it's even more eclectic than my books. Good voices, good harmonies, good melodies. I've been listening to a lot of Straight No Chaser and Pentatonix recently.
Who is your favorite character in your books?
I love most of my protagonists. I mean, you have to if you're going to spend gobs of time with them. Some charm the snot out of me (Laren, Dante, Tander), some are just so easy for me to identify with (Layla, Xander, Dylan). Dylan Chroz, from Saving Tessa is probably my absolute favorite character because I totally identify with him. He has all of my awkwardness when it comes to social situations but all of my acumen and skills (x10) and that professional self-confidence that throws people.
Do you ever take characteristics or nuances from close friends or family when working on character development and if so has that friend or family member noticed and what was their response to it?
I absorb everything in my day to day life, people I meet, situations I find interesting, people I know well. Almost all of it finds a home in a totally different venue. I think, most of the time, people don't recognize it. But, when they do, they've usually been pleased and/or amazed at how well I reproduced their train of thought.
Thanks for talking to us at Genuine Jenn and sharing with our readers!
Purchase a copy of Nine Lives on Amazon.
Nine Lives – The Bete, Book 2: The planet where the Bete and humans crashed has not finished with its nasty surprises, incapacitating the Bete leaders: Xander the Dragon and his healer mate, K'Ti. Suddenly everything is in the hands of Xander’s hot-headed foster brother, Laren.
Laren must not only race against time to stop the virus before it infects others or kills his brother, but deal with threats from the humans that have overrun the other camp. Can Laren set aside his pugnacious character and save his brother? Can he save his own camp and rescue those humans who support them in the other camp? These questions will matter to you. Ms. Barr builds characters that grow and become a part of the reader. You’ll care about these people.
Nine Lives is a fantasy adventure Young Adult novel with an ensemble cast. It is intended for the emerging adult market, but accessible for adults as well. The book is the second in the Bete series (following Beast Within). The series is a worthy successor to the warrior adventure tales of the “Golden Age” of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
~*Disclaimer: This post was written by Genuine Jenn. All opinions are honest and my own.*~