Interview with novelist Michellene Barrett

Today’s special guest is author Michellene Barrett and focuses on her novel, Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation.
  
Welcome, Michellene. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
In my senior year of high school, I published my
first juvenile fiction, Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation. The story of
Englisha and David is about two teens who begin dating and embark on an
adventurous vacation in Los Angeles. They must learn the value of love,
forgiveness and living life to the fullest.
In the fourth grade, I began writing stories about the
adventures of Englisha and David. During lunch time, my classmates would listen
as I shared my stories. They would say, “Michellene, you need to be a
published author. Your stories are so funny.” I soon began my quest to
becoming a published author and eight years later, it became a reality. 
I graduated from Columbia University Teachers College with a
master’s degree in Literacy. I also obtained my bachelor’s degree in Childhood
Education from City College of New York. I am currently an elementary school
teacher in New York City. 
Please tell us about your current release.
I am currently working on my second book in the Englisha
series which comes in the fall of 2015. The main characters Englisha and David
are now seniors in high school and they have to navigate through a lot of
drama. Their relationship is tested when David’s secret comes out. It’s a story
about trusting again, forgiveness and love. 
What inspired you to write this second book?
I was inspired to write my second book because of all the
fans of my first book Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation. I always
wanted to write the story of Englisha and David as a book series. But there was
a time after writing my first book where I no longer felt like writing. I was
in college and I felt disconnected from my target audience (preteens and
teens). I didn’t think as an adult that I could write stories that would appeal
to teens. All that changed last summer when I worked at the Action Arts Summer
Camp at Columbia University Teachers College. I began reading my first book
Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation to the campers and I was surprised by
their reaction. It was like I was in elementary school all over again. All the
campers from ages 6-13 gathered around and listened to my story. They enjoyed
the book so much that they began to share ideas for a book 2. Right there, I
was inspired to write book 2 and make it bigger and better than my first
book. 
Excerpt from Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation:
“Tomorrow is my sixteenth birthday!” Englisha
Regents shouted to her best friend, Laurenthina, as they entered the school
building. 

“Tomorrow is also the last day of school. Hooray!”
Laurenthina chimed in as she swiped in her ID card through the security system.
“Well, who are you going to invite to your party?”

“Okay, let’s see: you, Jasmine, Jasmina, and
Clender,” Englisha said. “Well, that’s all I thought of so
far.” 

Laurenthina’s eyes opened wide. “Are you telling me
that you are not inviting any boys?” 

“I don’t know, but you can tell your brother to
come,” Englisha said, trying to find a seat in the lunchroom so she could
eat her breakfast. 

Laurenthina flipped her long, curly, light brown hair as she
sat down. Laurenthina looked at Englisha as if she were crazy. “Oh, come
on! My brother?” 

“Well, I could invite David, from my Spanish
class,” Englisha said, uncertain. Englisha had liked David since freshman
year of high school, but he had a girlfriend. 
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I first began writing stories, I never saw myself as a
writer. I was just writing for fun. I continued to write because my classmates
were entertained. I began to think of myself as a writer once my audience began
to grow. At my elementary school, I attended the after-school program where my
peers would gather around and listen to my stories. They would say,
“Michellene, your stories are good. You should get them published.”
The more I heard that, the more I gained confidence and believed that I should
be a published author.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If
not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I was in the fourth grade when I first wrote the story of
Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation. I would write my stories when we had
creative writing time in class. I would also bring my writing journal to lunch
and continue writing. I am currently an elementary school teacher so it is so
hard to find time to write. Sometimes I write for about an hour on Sundays. I
mostly write when I’m on the train or bus. 
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes I get really impatient when writing. I would get
so excited about a certain scene because I want to know what happens at the
end. I have this urge to turn the page and read the end of the chapter but I can’t
because I’m writing it. Also my brain goes so much faster than my hands can
write or type. So I have to remind myself to slow down, be patient and write
the necessary details that leads up to the end of that chapter. 
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I also wanted to be a teacher. When I developed
a love for writing, I decided that I would do both. I would be a teacher and an
author. If there was any extra time, I would be a singer/songwriter too. My
goal is to use all my talents in a positive way.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

Look out for my second book which comes out fall 2015! It’s
my best writing! You will really enjoy it! 

Links:

Thanks, Michellene. Happy writing!

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