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Shop Talk Tuesday with Michele Barker

Today we have Michele Barker joining us in the beauty shop! Michele is a Class of 2k8 member and author of A DIFFICULT BOY, Holiday House, a PEN New England Children’s Book Caucus Discovery Award Winner.

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ISBN-10: 0823420868
ISBN-13: 978-0823420865
$16.95 ($18.95 CAN), Hardcover, 298 pages

Set in Western Massachusetts in 1839, A DIFFICULT BOY tells the story of two young indentured servants—one of them Irish—who must overcome their differences to outwit their abusive master and win their freedom.

Because of his family’s debt’s, young Ethan must work for Mr. Lyman, a wealthy shopkeeper. Ethan tries to befriend the Lymans’ other indentured servant, but Daniel, as everyone says, is a difficult boy. Sixteen years old, Irish, and moody, Daniel brushes off Ethan as if he were a pesky gnat. Ethan resolves to ignore the older boy, but is then shocked to see how cruelly Mr. Lyman treats Daniel. Soon, Ethan, too, is suffering Mr. Lyman’s blows. Self-preservation drives the two boys together and they begin to forge a friendship. Then they discover a dark secret about the past that could change their lives forever.

Be sure to check out the video for A DIFFICULT BOY at Michele’s website!

Welcome, Michele! Grab some coffee, get comfy in the beautician’s chair, and let’s get down to the gossip.

Ummmm…could I have tea instead? Coffee gets me so-o-o-o-o wired!

Well, we enjoy getting author’s wired here, (it really makes them talk,) but okay. First off, when’s the last time you’ve treated yourself to a manicure?

We-e-e-e-ll…I’ve never had a formal official beauty-shop manicure, and I mostly keep my nails as short as possible because they’re just a total nuisance, but…my husband and I like to go ballroom dancing, and every now and then the studio where we take lessons has a show, so I suck it up and let my nails grow and do them up for the show…well, actually I don’t do them myself, because I have real trouble coloring inside the lines, so believe it or not, my husband does them for me. He thought it would be really sexy until he found out that you have to wait for the polish to dry…

Ever had a major hair or salon disaster?

Oh, yeah! Fortunately there are no photos. I once got a perm at one of those beauty schools where the students get to practice on you. Well, the perm didn’t take at all—you’d think it was water in the bottle instead of toxic chemicals. So, they had me come back to get it re-done for free—big mistake. You guessed it—poodle-time, quickly followed by hair-breaking-off-all-over-the-place time. It felt like it took YEARS to grow out!

How long have you been with your current stylist and what are your appointment conversations like—chatty and personal, or quiet and professional?

Well, I have to confess that for the first ¾ of my life my stylist was mostly…Mom. She grew up with three sisters, and they all did each other’s hair, so she did my hair when I was a kid, and continued to do it most of the time until about 10 years ago (except for the afore-mentioned disastrous perm and a couple other random beauty-shop dos). Then again, after I was 20, my hair was usually long and unlayered, so “doing” it mostly involved evening up the ends every couple of months or so and/or trimming bangs if I had them. Since I’ve never gotten in the habit of regular beautify-ing, I’m not very monogamous when it comes to hair stylists. I only go when I’m totally desperate or if somebody else buys (like my current extremely nice and non-poodly perm, which was a much-appreciated birthday present from a friend). If you want to get really current, though, last night my husband dyed my hair for me, so I guess that makes him my most current stylist. (And no, it didn’t turn green and fall out, thanks to a lesson from a friend who did a stint at hairdressing school. It actually looks quite nice—no pictures, though!)

The ladies in my novel have fun answering the “Hypothetical Questions of the Week” from their favorite tabloid. So here are some for you:

HQ #1: For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?

Definitely Dorothy Parker, because then I’d get to hang around with her and her buddies at the Algonquin Round Table. Now how cool would that be?

HQ #2: If you could hit the rewind button, which book published by another author do you wish you could have written? Which movie screenplay?

Any of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books—though Voyager is my favorite. I just love her characters, descriptions, historical detail—everything! Unfortunately, when I read her books I feel so unworthy to call myself a writer that I want to take everything I’ve ever written and flush it. Fortunately, my computer is too big to fit in the toilet…

Movie screenplay? I think The Princess Bride—it’s just about perfect.

HQ #3: You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

Ooooh! Definitely a 2-hour massage!

HQ #4: TV execs are offering you a spot on a new reality show for writers. Do you say yes? If so, how would you be portrayed? (i.e. the boss, whiner, bore, paranoid-wreck, etc.?)

Definitely the whiner…the whiney procrastinating lazy shelfish slob, to be specific.

HQ #5: If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

I’d be living in a cardboard box under a bridge, because I didn’t have a career path in high school…or college. Come to think of it, I still don’t have a career path!

The Lightening Round—no more than two words per answer!

Do you . . .
Outline or wing it?
Wing
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep your trap shut? Blab
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Complete
Love to edit or cringe at the thought? CRINGE!!
Prefer writing a new book or marketing the old? Writing new
Write better at home or in a coffee shop? Home
Read your released book or no, I’ve read it enough? Enough already!

And finally, what’s your favorite . . .

Time to write? About two hours before I’m supposed to hand something to my critique group.
Movie? Princess Bride
Book? Ooh—that changes depending on what I just read! My favorite of the past year was “Soul Catcher” by Michael C. White
Author? Diana Gabaldon…at the moment…
Song? “The Girl in the Red Velvet Dress” by the Rude Girls
Pair of shoes? My red sparkly Dorothy dancing shoes.
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Guiltiest pleasure? Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream in the single-serving container (that would be the pint, by the way…)
Line from a movie? “We don’t need no stinking badges.” Useful in so many situations…

Thanks so much for stopping by, Michele, and best of luck with A DIFFICULT BOY! And where did that movie line come from? It sounds so familiar . . .

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