Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Interview with TBF Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Hello TBF readers,

I have a gift for you today: an interview with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of THE NATURALS. (What is this book called THE NATURALS? Check out my book review!)

Miranda Reads: What kind of research did you do when writing THE NATURALS?

Jennifer Lynn Barnes: I think there are two kinds of research that writers do: there's the research you do once you have a book idea, to flesh it out, and there's the kind of research that involves amassing knowledge in your day-to-day life and then using that knowledge down the road, when you're writing a book. The majority of my research for THE NATURALS series was the second kind. I have a Ph.D. in psychology (and degrees in psychiatry and cognitive science as well), so I've basically spent the last thirteen years amassing expertise in the psychology of how we read people and interpret their mental states and motivations. That was, in fact, one of the reasons I wanted to write a series about an FBI think tank that uses teenagers who excel in this arena to catch killers. Going into writing the book, I had a pretty good basis for most of the Naturals' skills: reading emotions (Michael), detecting deception (Lia), understanding numbers and rules-based systems (Sloane), and using behavior to diagnose personality and personality to predict behavior (Cassie and Dean). The one area that I did do some active research on relates to criminal profiling, since my expertise is more in the kind of profiling we all do on a day-to-day basis. For that research, I read memoirs written by real-world FBI profilers, to get a sense for what it's like to be inside a criminal profiler's head.

MR: How many books will there be in THE NATURALS series?

JLB: I get this question a lot, and the answer is that I don't know! I have currently written up through book three. I would love to write a book four, but my publisher and I have not discussed it yet, so I do not know what the future holds!

MR: How would you describe a dinner party with Cassie Hobbes (from THE NATURALS), Spencer Reid (from CRIMINAL MINDS), Patrick Jane (from THE MENTALIST) and Sherlock Holmes (from BBC SHERLOCK)?

JLB: I imagine that it would involve a lot of Cassie, Jane, and Sherlock reading each other, and Spencer missing out on some of the subtext between the other three! Interestingly, I think Cassie might be harder for Jane and Sherlock to read than the reverse, simply because she doesn't fit the "type" that people usually associate with a brilliant crime-solver/profiler type. Jane is charismatic and commands a room. Sherlock sees no reason whatsoever to hide his own brilliance--it's constantly on display. But Cassie--in part because of her personality and in part because she's a teenage girl, which comes with a whole different set of societal pressures and expectations--presents very differently. I think that Sherlock and Jane would probably peg Cassie as being very observant, but I also think they might underestimate her, at least at first!

MR: Let's pretend you're performing in your high school talent show. What's your talent?

JLB: I cannot sing. I used to dance, but it's about thirteen years too late for that one. So I think I'm going to have to go with "reading very quickly." Sometimes I attract that attention of the people sitting next to me on airplanes, because I am tearing through the pages of a book at a pretty high speed. I am also totally okay with idea of going out on stage, and just sitting there, silently reading a book.

MR: Which author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 10th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?

JLB: Everyone, of course! It's always so nice to go to conferences and to get to see author friends (and to make new ones!).

Thank you so much Jennifer! We're excited to meet you in May!

To learn more about Jennifer and her books check out her website. Also be sure to follow her on Twitter.

That's it for today. Come back to the blog for more book reviews, author interviews and more!

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