Interview: Rebecca Barrow

Rebecca Barrow brought a new book into the world earlier this month. THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE looks amazing and we’re thankful that Rebecca was able to answer a few questions about her writing for us. If you haven’t read her book yet, check out the summary:

It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left—well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now—and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge—to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future—will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

Rebecca Barrow’s tender story of friendship, music, and ferocious love asks—what will you fight for, if not yourself?

THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE focuses on the complicated friendship of Hanna, Jules and Dia. Can you tell us a little bit about each of them? What do you love about them?

Dia is determined and loves to be in control; Jules is a bright beam of happiness hiding a whole lot of fear; Hanna is just discovering who she is and juggling guilt and anger. What I love about all of them is that they’re both so sure of themselves and so unsure—they know what they want, but not how to get it; they know who they are, but not always how to show it.

If you had stumbled across your novels as a teen, what would you have thought about them?

Honestly I think I would have loved them, mostly because I write a lot with the thought in mind of “what did I need to read? What did I wish was available to me at that point in my life?” I also probably would have thought “wow these characters have way cooler lives than me” because let’s be real, I was not playing in a punk band at seventeen!

What are some of the books that helped shape you as a writer?

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES by Jeffrey Eugenides showed me atmosphere; CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers made me say “oh, you can do THAT in YA?”; POINTE by Brandy Colbert showed me what we can allow black girls to be in our stories; GINGERBREAD by Rachel Cohn and PROM by Laurie Halse Anderson are my voice bibles.

Would you consider yourself a feminist and if so, how does that play out in your writing?

Yes, absolutely, 100%. My books always centre on girls and their stories, and allow space for them to be imperfect, unlikeable, strong and weak, good and bad, nice and cruel. Writing with feminism in mind also challenges me—like, I’ve just said I write about girls, but what about nonbinary and genderqueer characters? How will I, in the future, better include them in the stories I tell? Asking myself those kinds of questions and evolving my storytelling to better reflect reality is vital, to me, and all about feminism.

Finally, a very serious question. What snacks fuel your work?

You know, I really don’t snack while I write otherwise I’d never actually make it to the writing part…but chocolate covered pretzels are a revision weakness!

Many thanks to Rebecca for joining us today. If you are interested in learning more about Rebecca Barrow’s work, you may find her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and her website.