Thursday, September 20, 2012

{Q&A} Em Barrett, Author of "Leaving Green Island"

Em Barrett is an indie author who has released her first fiction novel, "Leaving Green Island," this past summer. Main character Brecken Pereira is faced with a fork in the road: stay engaged to her wonderful British man, or rehash old feelings with a handsome ex who suddenly reappears back in her life? The events in the story will have the ladies at the next book club divided!

I had the chance to ask the Chicagoan questions about her novel. Read below her thoughts on writing a strong female character, how authors can support each other and how Jordan Catalano was such a handsome devil in the 90s!

JULIE CHICKLITASAURUS: What was your inspiration for writing "Leaving Green Island?

EM BARRETT: Well, I’ve always loved writing and have been a fan of chick lit books for a long time, but I’m sometimes frustrated that many of these books have lead female characters who are kind of weak and one-dimensional. I set out to write a chick lit book with a stronger and (hopefully!) more interesting lead character who has complicated relationships with her friends, family and co-workers as well as a complicated love life. And, that’s how Leaving Green Island was born. I guess that I have to leave it to the readers to decide whether or not I actually succeeded in my mission.

Book cover photo from here
JC: The main character, Brecken, is faced with a fork in the road. One of the characters in the book said it's like a Dylan and Brandon, Mr. Big and Aiden kind of situation. How has the reaction been to Brecken's choice or her actions? Are you nervous when blogs or other critics review your book?

EB: Overall, I've gotten a really positive reaction to Brecken and her choice with regard to her love life. While this book is definitely a love story, I think of it more as Brecken's story, with her relationships with Lizzy and Nevada being the heart of the book. It seems like a lot of readers have connected with the friendships in the story even more than the romantic relationships. And, yes, I am insanely nervous about reviews! I don't have a very thick skin, unfortunately, so each critical review kind of feels like a punch in the stomach. Thankfully most of the feedback has been positive so far, so I haven't had to spend too much time obsessing over the bad ones.

JC: Speaking of Dylan and Brandon, I loved, loved the 90s references in the book. It made it so much more fun to read, being a child of the 90s myself. Was the 90s not the best decade? And (I saw this was a popular question on Twitter) what were you doing in 1994!?

EB: Thank you! That’s so good to hear! It was a lot of fun trying to cast back into a teenage mindset and coming up with pop culture references that I could stick in during the Green Island summer portions. The 90s were the best for sure! Walsh twins forever! As for 1994, I was in seventh grade then, wearing Sally Jesse Raphael glasses and braces with colored bands (I was a very attractive middle schooler, in case this isn't obvious), and pining away for Jordan Catalano!

Just look at him rocking that chocker

JC: Is this your first novel?

EB: This is my first novel. I have a few others that I have been working on from time to time, but "Leaving Green Island" is the only one I've finished so far.

JC: Do you have any advice for young women who are trying to have their books/writings published?

EB: I am still really just trying to find my way into the writing/publishing world myself, honestly. Over the course of about a year, I sent "Leaving Green Island" to a fair number of agents and no one was interested. I have a baby and a job, so it was hard the find the motivation to spend my little free time sending out continuous letters to agents only to have them not respond. After hearing so many self-publishing success stories, I decided to give it a try. So far, it has been such a great experience. Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and other such sites provide really great avenues for getting the word out about your book without spending much money on marketing. I also reached out to several more well-known indie writers to see if they had any great advice on publicizing my book. Most of them responded that their success resulted from a mixture of working hard to spread the word about their books and a lucky break where an influential website featured their stories. Everyone was really supportive and responsive - I feel lucky to be a part of the indie writer movement!

JC: Do you have your next novel in the works right now or coming up soon? If so, can you tell a little about it?

EB: I recently started and am hard at work on a sequel to "Leaving Green Island," which I plan to publish in 2013. The sequel will begin shortly after "Leaving Green Island" ends, and it will be written from the perspective of Brecken's best friend, Lizzy. All the main characters from "Leaving Green Island" will feature heavily in this book, but this will be Lizzy's story.

A new perspective! That will be one that lovers of "Leaving Green Island" will want to get a hold of when it's published. Get to know more about this hard-working indie author at

Purchase the "Leaving Green Island" ebook here.

Get the gals together for a book club featuring these great questions about "Leaving Green Island."

Review system

Julie Chicklitasaurus devoured this book.

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