By Rachel Neuburger
Chappaqua resident and author of children’s and young adult literature Barbara Dee is thrilled to be participating in the inaugural Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival this October. Dee’s four published works include Solving Zoe–a 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year–and Just Another Day in my Insanely Real Life, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
How did you start writing books for children and young adults?
I’ve always written for kids–in fact, on my website you can see the “book” I wrote when I was five! After teaching, practicing law, and being a stay-at-home mom, I decided to see if I could get published. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t at least try. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else!
What’s your writing process?
A: I like to swim laps at Club Fit in Briarcliff or go on the treadmill in the early morning, then sit down at my computer and focus on nothing but writing. I try not to break my concentration by running errands or chatting on the phone during writing time–I need a few uninterrupted hours to get into the “zone.”
What authors and works inspire you?
I’m always inspired by books with humor, complex characters, and great dialogue. Hilary McKay’s Casson family series is a big inspiration, because every character is so surprising. Recently I’ve loved Wonder by R. J. Palacio, which manages to be both heartbreaking and funny.
If you could be any one of your characters, which would you choose?
I’m pretty introverted and tend to over-think before I act, so I’d love to be a fearless, uninhibited character like Francesca in This is Me From Now On, or the performance artist mom in Trauma Queen. In my newest book (which doesn’t have a title yet, but will be published by Simon & Schuster in September 2014), the character Maya Lopez would be my choice, because she stands up to bullies and is fiercely loyal to her best friend.
Are you looking forward to the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival?
Can’t wait! I always love the chance to chat with readers, parents, teachers and librarians (not to mention other authors).
Helping to put together the CCBF has been a special thrill, because it’s all about promoting literacy and the love of books–right here in Chappaqua.