Author Revealed

About Barbara Dee

Q. What is your birthdate?

A. 3/22

Q. Previous occupations

A. High school English teacher, lawyer

Q. Favorite job

A. Writing for kids!

Q. High school and/or college

A. I went to a big public high school in Brooklyn, NY, and then to Yale.

Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

A. Bob Dylan. I didn't get him when I was a kid (he's a generation ahead of me), but now I do.

Q. Favorite movie

A. I love movies, and I don't have just one favorite. But here are a few: The Godfather (I and II), Annie Hall, ET, Tootsie, Casablanca, Best in Show.

Q. Favorite television show

A. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Revealing Questions

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

A. Write. Read. Revise. Play with cat. Delete. Write.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. You don't have to figure it all out at once.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. A balmy, sunny afternoon in July. I plunge into a cool, empty, bug-free pool and swim uninterrupted for as long as I want.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. Amusement park rides, especially roller coasters.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

A. Italy, probably Rome or Venice.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

A. Dara Torres. She's an Olympic champion, a great sport, and an inspiring mom.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?

A. Definitely, exactly, unbelievably, incredibly.

Q. What do you regret most?

A. Never learning to touch-type.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

A. The ability to throw a great party.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. Raising three terrific kids.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?

A. Impatience.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. A sense of humor.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

A. A cat. They have an unlimited capacity to entertain themselves, and they never have insomnia.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?

A. My messy red hair and my height.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

A. Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. She's smart, but not as smart as she thinks.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

A. Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair. She's a sympathetic villain, kind of how Elizabeth Bennet is an imperfect heroine. I like characters who are somewhere in the middle.

Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

A. It would be amazing to meet William Shakespeare. And I'd probably say something brilliant like, "Um, excuse me, um, uh, could I please (gasp) have your autograph?"

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. Crumbs in the butter.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

A. Reading.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?

A. Ice cream flavor testing. Is that a profession? It ought to be!

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

A. A generous spirit, a good sense of humor, and tact.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A. There’s a huge, noisy diner near my house that my whole family loves. Every time we go there I order the same meal: a big green salad and a thick, spicy seafood soup full of mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops and other chewy creatures I don’t want to think too hard about. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s my favorite meal—especially when I’m also able to sneak a few sips of my kids’ vanilla milkshakes.

On Books and Writing

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. All-time favorites: Jane Austen, Vladimir Nabokov, William Shakespeare, George Eliot, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Contemporary favorites: Alice Munro, Jonathan Lethem Favorite YA: Sarah Dessen, Meg Rosoff, Catherine Murdock, Laurie Halse Anderson, Hilary McKay, Betty Smith Favorite Children's Authors: Louise Fitzhugh, Astrid Lindgren, Jules Feiffer, EB White, Cynthia Rylant, Frances O'Roark Dowell

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

A. Pride and Prejudice Middlemarch Little Women Harriet The Spy Pippi Longstocking

Q. Is there a book you love to reread?

A. All the Words: The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus

Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

A. Never fall in love with your first draft.

Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

A. Will there be a sequel?

Q. How did you come to write Solving Zoe?

A. I was thinking about the heroine of my first book, Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life, who, despite her messy family life, was actually pretty lucky: she knew that she was a talented writer, and that knowledge helped her get through some rocky times. And then I started thinking: what would it feel like to have an amazing talent but not know it? Or maybe know it but not understand it? It would be especially hard if you were going to a school where all the kids were "gifted and talented" in obvious, typical ways. I began imagining a girl who was used to hanging back in the shadows, holding onto a long-time best-friendship that wasn't really working anymore--until one day a strange new boy exposes her secret ability. The more I thought about this story the more it seemed to be about the exciting, scary process of figuring out who you are and where you fit--which I think anyone in any middle school can relate to.

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