Chatting with Barbara Ehrentreu
When did you start writing?
My first published poem was when I was in third grade. Then after college I started writing poetry and when I was teaching in Buffalo another poem of mine was published in the Buffalo Schools Bulletin. It wasn’t until I enrolled in a graduate program at Manhattanville that I took my first writing workshop and started to write seriously. I attended Manhattanville’s Writer’s Week and when my memoir was picked by my group and I read it to the entire audience several authors came to me and praised it. That was when I decided I was a writer, because I felt so comfortable with all of the authors. The following summer I joined a children’s writing workshop during Writer’s Week and began my first novel now being published.
What gave you the idea for your first book?
I enrolled in a children’s writing workshop headed by Paula Danziger and she required us all to write an excerpt to get into the workshop. When Paula saw it she thought it had some merit and she worked with me to revise it. Paula was a big support to me and her inspiration spurred me to finish my novel. I am sad she never got to see it finished.
The idea came from my own daughter’s trials with feelings about her body and a short experience with bulimia. I wanted to write something that would show the feelings of both situations and I was tired of reading YA’s with dead parents and rapes, etc.
What genre do you write?
Actually, I let the story decide for me. So I have written in several genres. My very first novel, which I also tried to publish, was an MG fantasy with talking animals. My most recent novel for last year’s NaNo was a romance/suspense/adventure. I have a story published on Moondance.org that is about an older woman with angst. I also have a picture book for ages 3-6 I am thinking of getting published. As I said, it all depends on the story.
What do you do to keep yourself focused?
When I am in the middle of writing something I can be focused anywhere. This is especially true when I’m writing poetry. However, when I’m starting to write I like to have the place to myself. As an editor, I can edit anywhere, but I prefer to do it alone. The TV usually doesn’t bother me.
What inspires you?
My inspiration is my family. Their experiences have pushed me to write. My first novel was inspired by my daughter. My second novel’s inspiration was my husband’s heart attack and by pass surgery. My other books have parts of my family in them.
Also beauty in nature, political events, my own crazy life are inspirations for poetry.
Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?
It depends on the project. When I got blocked on my first novel I wrote my stories and both were published. I was quick with my novel’s edits and when I’m editing something I like to concentrate on it and finish it. Unfortunately, with life today, things pile up so occasionally I’m working on two things at once. I think it depends on the length of the piece and how much time I have to do it.
What is your writing process?
I’m a pantser. When I get an idea I write the first sentence and then continue either until the piece is finished, for a short story or usually until I get 2000 words. I don’t consciously strive for that amount, but that is where I usually stop. When I’m writing a novel I’ll start writing the story and then go back and flesh out the characters. I think it’s very important to know what each of your characters wants. When I was very blocked, because I didn’t have an ending for my novel, I went to a Children’s Writers Bootcamp and it helped very much.
What is the theme of your novel?
Carolyn Samuels’ freshman year becomes a series of lies to cover Jennifer Taylor’s terrible secret in return for popularity.
Do you consciously use symbolism in your book? No.
What is your latest release?
If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor
What other books do you have published?
This is my first published book. I have two stories published online:
“The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and “Out on a Ledge”.
Where are your books available?
My novel will not be available until September. However, you can find out more about it and me here: