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Monday, August 17, 2009

Interview with Nicole Barker

Hey everyone! I had the chance to ask Nicole Barker, the author of Dancing with Ana, a few questions about her new book and her writing style. She has been so helpful over the last week with the Theme Week. I hope that you enjoy her responses.
Book cover of Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker

Do you have a routine when you write? A specific place or time of day?

I attempt to apply a schedule to my writing, but I fail miserably. If something comes to me, I stop whatever I'm doing and write. I also “shush” anyone who tries to talk to me when I'm writing. Don't I sound like a wonderful person to live with? I write on my laptop, sitting outside under a covered patio. It's the most quiet place in my house.

How long has the process been in getting Dancing with Ana to the status it is at today?

I wrote the first words at the end of August 2008 and the book was released on August 1, 2009. It was a very intense year.

How did you come up with the title and cover for this book?

The title relates to a flirting with disaster concept. There are thousands of victims of anorexia, some more apparent than others. Most start off simply dancing with ana, but of course there is nothing simple about it. It's an incredibly addictive disease, playing both friend and foe. Every victim stays at the dance for a different amount of time. Some dance for awhile, others stay much longer...some never leave.

The image on the the cover symbolizes a few different ideas. Obviously, it represents dancing. The young girl represents innocence and simplicity. The fact that she is spinning represents both carefree times and being out of control.

To expand on the previous question a little, how did you decide that this subject (Anorexia) was what you wanted to write about?

Well, I wanted to write about the importance and strength of friendship. Once I realized Beth's situation with her father, I knew anorexia would be her coping mechanism. I guess I wanted to portray a very normal girl in a very typical situation dealing with it by succumbing to an eating disorder. It was also important that as she goes down this path, she is still surrounded by positivity and love. You can never underestimate the impact of support and love when a person needs it most.

What sort of research did you do for this book? Did you have a group of teenagers to bounce some ideas off of?

You are the first reviewer to ask me this question. This is a story of fiction, but I tapped into my own personal experiences in order to write it.

Once the book was done, I did have five girls ranging in age from twelve to fifteen read it and give me their feedback. I also had a fourteen year-old girl help me with some of the texting language.

I have heard some incredible feedback from people who are really touched by this book, was it your intention that this book would be able to help people who may be going through similar situations?

Definitely! Truly, readers who are going through a similar situation as Beth, or Rachel, were on my mind as I wrote. I hope they walk away from this book with a feeling of hope.

Has this experience encouraged you to work on a new project? If so, is there anything yet you can tell us about it?

Yes, I am currently working on another young adult book. This one is set in the Northeast. My main character is Lily and she has two best friends. There's a love story...

Thank-you Nicole for all your wonderful help and the great book!

Nicole Barker grew up in Portland, Oregon and attended Southern Oregon State College in the town of Ashland. Nestled in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, Nicole took to writing while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities with a strong emphasis on early childhood development. Shortly after graduation, she spent several months traveling around the United States and parts of Canada. Nicole lives in South Florida with her husband, three kids, two dogs, frogs, hermit crabs and fish. She is currently working on her second YA book.  You can visit Nicole at her website.

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