7 Questions with Jennifer Lynn Barnes

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

Hmmm… I’d probably go with seven. I think that all writers are at least a little crazy- we’d have to be to get into a business as tough as this one. And if we weren’t crazy before we started writing, spending so much time immersed in a fictional world-characters, dialogue, plot concepts- would bump us up the scale at least a few notches.

For me, my craziness probably manifests itself most in (a) the fact that I’m really, really random and following my thought process can be darn near impossible, and (b) the way that I sometimes get really caught up in my
thoughts. If I’m thinking about a story, I pretty much zone out.

The flip side to my craziness is that I do a really good normal-and-sane impression, which leads people to believe that I’m not crazy or weird at all.

2. If you could do it a second time around, would you have signed your first contract? Do you think that if it had come along later, you’d have been better prepared?

I would sign my first contract all over again.

I was lucky in that I had a wonderful agent when I signed my first contract, and even if I wasn’t fully prepared for dealing with the legal aspect of the business, she definitely was.

3. Have you ever been tempted to blow off classes because “you have acontract and you need to write but the truth is you really just want to blow off classes and have no looming deadlines”?

Hmmmm… there have been times when the idea of blowing off classes has been tempting, but really, I don’t think it would occur to me to blame writing. I keep my two worlds pretty separate, and I almost never write before midnight, so writing never really interferes with classes. Plus, my last two years in undergrad, I was taking mostly seminars in subjects I was really interested in, so I didn’t WANT to blow them off, though there may or may not have been a few philosophy lectures that I slept through because I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed.

4. You. Don’t. Like. Chocolate. I can’t believe that! It’s got cocoa butter, it’s got caffeine, it’s got sugar. All three main food groups in one scrumptious package…And you don’t like it. What’s your ultimate craving?

Right now, my ultimate craving is mexican food. There’s not a lot of it here in the UK. In terms of sweets, my favorite are these teeny tiny jawbreakers
that pretty much explode into straight sugar the second you bite down on them. Yummmmm…

5. Your other passion is cognitive science. So all you do is play with primates in the lab? 😉

I used to spend a TON of time playing with monkeys and lemurs- both in the lab and in the wild. There’s nothing quite like being on an island with 800 rhesus monkeys, or having a lemur climb you like a tree, and the research always felt like playing, because the lemurs especially loved participating in our experiments and used to fight (literally) over who got to go first. This year, though, I’m working with human adults with and without autism spectrum conditions. I love my new research, but I do miss the primates- I’ve worked with them pretty solidly for three straight years, so I’m kind of going into monkey and lemur withdrawal.

6. In 2008, your release schedule increases to 3 books in a year. You are also continuing graduate studies simultaneously. Where do you find the time to eat and sleep?

I always find time to eat. I’m a big fan of food (though, I will admit, not a huge fan of English food currently). Sleeping is another story. I have a pretty erratic sleep schedule. Some days, I only sleep a couple of hours a night. After a while, that catches up with me, and I sleep for 14 straight hours. Somehow, it balances out. I’m lucky in that balancing my studies and writing has never been that difficult for me- I research during the day, and then I relax and hang out with friends, and then, after everyone is asleep, I write. I never wanted to miss out on anything- academic, social, or otherwise-because I write, and honestly, I really don’t think I have. Writing is something I would be doing whether I was publishing or not. For me, being asked how I balance writing and my research is sort of like asking
someone how they balance school and watching TV.

7. I’m making the assumption here that you intend to continue working in your chosen field of study after you complete a PhD, but don’t you want to write full-time? That does seem to be the most popular writer’s dream around.

There’s a very good chance that I would have to bump my crazy rating to a ten if I wrote full time. I like to be busy. I like to get out and do things and be around people my own age. Writing is a pretty solitary career. It would be different if I was in a different stage of my life- if I had a family or kidsor something else I was really passionate about- but right now, I can’t imagine just writing, for two reasons. The first is that, as strange as it may seem, the busier my regular life is, the more productive I am in my writing life. I just got back from a three week Christmas break, and I didn’t write
a word, but now that I have to balance it with school work, I’m writing a ton. For me, being busy helps me to write- go figure. The second reason I don’t think I could write full time is simply that I write too quickly. I can handle three books a year pretty easily alongside my research career, but if I didn’t have research and I did manage to write “full time” (instead of procrastinating full time and writing part time), I would end up with a lot more end product than I could possibly use. I don’t want to flood my publisher’s desk- or the market. And besides, having a life and passions outside of writing gives me something to write about.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes blogs. Tattoo is out now, and the sequel to Golden, Platinum, will be released in September.


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