After five days in the desert heat, we’re back home to cooler temps and 24-7 wireless. Hooray! Even better, I have a fabulous interview for you with an author I met last summer at SCBWI-LA, the wonderful Barrie Summy.
Not only is Barrie one of the nicest people you’ll meet, she’s also a mom to four children, two veiled chameleons and 83 veiled chameleon eggs. And wouldn’t you know — the main character in her I So Don’t Do Mysteries books has curly hair and the name Sherry! What’s not to love?
Please welcome San Diego author, mom, licorice lover Barrie Summy!!
Sherrie, thank you so much for interviewing me. Hard to believe almost a year has gone by since we met in Beverly Hills at SCBWI last summer!!
I know. Time flies, doesn’t it? But I’m so glad I finally get to interview you after pimping your novel last summer 🙂
I love the story of how you got your agent, Rachel Vater. I mean, it sounds like a total fairy tale! (This post has all the details.) Did you ever query any other agents?
I queried eight other agents. Mostly because I just didn’t think in a million years that I’d end up with Rachel based on pitching Donald Maass while he signed his book for me. This is one crazy industry!
No kidding! But it’s great how things work out sometimes. I know you were a huge Nancy Drew fan (so was I!). Do you think you’ll write as many books as Carolyn Keene did?
Just starting to figure out my fifth book. So, thirty-eight looks pretty overwhelming. 😉
Didn’t I So Don’t do Mysteries morph out of a Nancy Drew mystery you had written?
It did. I So Don’t Mysteries was originally titled Nancy Drew and the Mystery at the Wild Animal Park. A lot, besides just the characters changed from the original manuscript. Even the villain isn’t the same.
Oh, how funny!
I guess that’s what happens with the rewrites…
You are one of those majorly organized people when it comes to writing: outlines, flow charts, note cards in the recipe box. Does this come from being the mother of four children?
Probably. I have to admit, though, that I’ve become less organized with each child! There was a time when I never had an overdue library book. That is so not the case these days!
Hmmm, that reminds me…I’ve got a few myself…
Does all that organization help you avoid writer’s block?
I think what really helps is how busy the kids keep me. I mean, I write a ton in my car. While waiting for kids to finish with swim team. Or while my youngest has her piano lesson. Or . . . you get the idea. So, when I sit down to write, it’s like chop-chop, let’s get going. If I do have trouble writing, I give it the old college try. If it’s still now working, I turn off my computer and head to the store for some licorice.
How true do you stay to your outline?
My outlines always end up providing too much material. Which means I can never fit in all the scenes planned. Also, what works in an outline doesn’t necessarily work in the book. In other words, I stay reasonably true, but there are always changes. For me, the outline takes the panic out of writing.
So tell me about the Denny’s chicks…how many of you are there, how did you find each other and who on earth came up with the name?
There were four of us. Now, we’re down to three, but considering bumping it back up to four. We found each other at a plotting boot camp (meaning everyone plotted an entire book over the weekend) put on by our local RWA chapter. We were at the same table and just clicked. And the name Denny’s Chicks? I honestly don’t remember who came up with it.
Well it’s a great name. Even if you don’t meet at Denny’s anymore 🙂
You’ve said that it took about seven years of writing I So Don’t do Mysteries before it was published. Then you wrote the sequel in about seven months. I’m sure your organizational skills came to the rescue! Was that stressful having to meet a deadline for the publisher or was the second book easier to write?
The second was waaay easier to write. I knew the characters pretty well by then. The editor had read over my outline. Yes, I SO DON’T DO SPOOKY was a lot easier to write.
I think I So Don’t Do Makeup is your best so far. Does it get difficult to keep the character and situations fresh when you’re writing a series?
I’m guessing it probably does. But it hasn’t yet. In May, I turned in I SO DON’T DO FAMOUS, the fourth book. Which I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Of course, I had to visit Hollywood a couple of times in the name of research. Very fun!
Sounds like my kind of research!
Now I don’t want to start any cover controversies but I have to find out. The original cover had an illustration of a girl with curly hair on the cover, but the newer covers have a girl with straight hair. What’s the story there?
I think it was more about changing from a cartoon cover to a photo of a real girl. In the books, Sherry (don’t you love her name??!!) still has curly hair. They really did find an adorable model.
Well, I am willing to admit she’s adorable, even if her hair isn’t curly…
Are you planning to go to SCBWI-LA this year?
Sadly, no. SCBWI-LA is the same time as water polo Junior Olympics and my 3rd son’s team qualified for JOs. This year, JOs is in Pasadena. So, the SCBWI attendees will probably be able to hear me screaming! How about you? Are you going?
Yes, I’ll be there, but I’m bummed that you won’t. We had fun last year! But Pasadena’s close by. You can sneak into the lobby after 3rd Son’s game is over one night… I won’t tell!
Best of luck to you, Barrie. It was fun to catch up!
A million thanks for interviewing me, Sherrie!! I’m looking forward to when our paths cross again in real life!
I have two of Barrie’s books to give away:
an original hard cover of I SO DON’T DO MYSTERIES (with the adorable curly haired cartoon!)
an ARC of I SO DON’T DO MAKEUP.
Let me know in the comments which book you’d like. You have until midnight on Tuesday to enter your name. I’ll randomly choose one winner for each book on Wednesday.