Q1. When did you decide you were going to write a book?
A.In sixth grade, I wrote my first short novel, “Koren of the Quest.” Its 77 handwritten pages never saw the light of publication (thankfully), but that project hooked me on long-form storytelling. In seventh grade, I wrote a longer book that, like the first, has been kept in a drawer collecting dust. It would be fourteen years before I successfully completed another novel.
Throughout college and the five years after, I focused on trying to write mainstream fiction for adults. The two books I tried writing failed to hold my attention, and after multiple attempts at first chapters, I gave them up. I was frustrated in those five years post-college as my work-in-progress, “Watchdog,” faltered and failed.
My breakthrough came in 2013. Each year, I would buy my nieces a book for Christmas or their birthdays. Leading up to Christmas 2013, I was searching for the perfect book to capture my nieces’ imaginations. They were in first and third grade at the time, and as I browsed the children’s section at the local bookshop, it occurred to me that instead of buying them a book, I should write them a book. And wouldn’t it make for fun reading if the main characters were based on them?
Q2. How did you come up with the name of your books?
A. The two Sarah & Katy books -- “Sarah & Katy and the Imagination Blankets” and “Sarah & Katy and the Book of Blank” -- take their names from my nieces, Sarah and Katy. The other portion of the title refers to the main object in each book that sparks Sarah’s and Katy imaginations.
Imagination and creativity are important values in both of the Sarah & Katy books. In “Imagination Blankets,” the girls get blankets for Christmas that they imagine being a variety of adventurous objects -- such as magic carpets and the sails of a pirate ship. In “Book of Blank,” the girls literally get pulled into a blank book, and the only way to escape is to fill its pages with a story.
Q3. What are you working on now for 20 18?
A. In July, I completed the first draft of my next middle-grade novel, “The Mountain of Dempsey Molehill.” The book follows a year in the life of the Molehill family. When Harwood Molehill runs for mayor of Hackettstown, the five Molehill children are told to be on their best behavior. But no matter how hard they try, they keep finding themselves caught up in mischief, from trapping neighbors in pits dug in the yard to accidentally terrorizing the 4-H Club.
The book is planned to be released in summer 2019 under my independent imprint, JSB Independent Books.
Q4. How long have you been writing?
A. I wanted to be a writer before I could write. Before I started kindergarten, I had a habit of scribbling all over a sheet of paper and going into the kitchen to “read my story” to my mom. Even though both of us knew there wasn’t a single word (or even a readable letter) on that sheet of paper, Mom humored me and listened to my made-up stories. I fell in love with the idea of making up stories, and by the time I started school and learned to write, there was nothing I loved more than putting those stories on paper.
Q5. What advice would you give other authors?
A. Writing can be solitary, but the social side is important. Finding a critique partner or critique group is invaluable. The feedback and perspective are useful in strengthening the story in a myriad of ways.
A6. Where can people find you online?
A. Readers can follow my blog on my website at juliestroebelbarichello.com. Find me on Twitter @JSBarichello or on Facebook at fb.com/juliestroebelbarichello.
Q7. Do you plan on making more books in the future?
A.Absolutely. My third book is nearly finished and ready to come out within the year. Work for my fourth book will begin this year, and I have plans to experiment with children’s poetry in the future.
Q8. How many books have you written?
A.I’ve published two books so far, with a third set to come out in 2019.
Q9. Did you go to college to be a writer?
A. My day job is working as a copy editor at a newspaper. I went to college for a degree in print journalism and enrolled in a handful of creative writing classes on the side. However, the majority of my experience as a writer comes from a lot of reading and a lot of writing, not much classroom instruction.