Barnabas Miller is the author of the young adult novel 7 Souls. His most recent novel, Rock God: The Legend of B.J. Levine has been praised by School Library Journal in a starred review as “a zany, fast-paced, retro rock-music adventure . . . Loaded with witty musical references and allusions to songs, artists, places, and events from the 1970s to the present, B.J.’s quest for fame and self-discovery is a rollicking tale . . .The teen is an action hero whose vulnerability, candor, impulsive actions, and determination will delight rock fans.” Fans can visit B.J. Levine on Facebook or listen to B.J and his band’s rock single, “Three Notes” here: http://www.sourcebooks.com/rock-god-bj-levine.html. He also composes and produces music for film and network television. He lives in New York City.
Thank you for joining us today, Barnabas. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Thanks for having me! What can I tell you? Well, you already know I’m a writer. I was born in New York City, and I’m still in New York City—that tells you all sorts of things about me right there. I’m also a singer, a drummer, a composer, and a whole host of other things I’ve yet to master! What else…? My dog and cat are uncommonly close (they’re cleaning each other’s ears as we speak).
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I actually wrote my first book in the fourth grade. It was a six page “detective novel,” and if memory serves, the hero was a classic “Sam Spade” type, only he was ten years old and his sidekick was a frog named Ned. I remember feeling like such a gritty, “hard-boiled” writer, banging away at the keys, and while I didn’t find my way back to prose until middle school, that was clearly the beginning. I still remember the last line: “Is it all just a game? Who can tell? I need a lollipop.” It definitely needs a rewrite, but I’ve read worse. I was nine.
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
I actually sort of fell into it as a career when a friend of mine in children’s publishing suggested I write a sample for a children’s series he was working on. I’m so glad he asked me, or I might never have known how much I love writing for a young audience.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I wouldn’t say it’s “harder,” as I think writing anything well is pretty hard, but it definitely has its own set of challenges. I never want to “talk down” to the younger audience. I want to speak to them just as I’d speak to an adult, but tailor the language, subject matter, and emotions to what they’ll find the most compelling and accessible. I think that’s always the challenge. I remember the thing I wanted most as a child was to be spoken to like an equal, even if we were discussing my macaroni and pipe-cleaner sculpture.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
The chance to totally respect their intelligence is definitely one of my favorite parts (see above). I also love the way kids’ emotions are always cranked up to “ten.” It makes telling their stories so much more fun.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
My latest book is called Rock God: The Legend of B.J. Levine. It’s about a thirteen-year-old kid who may or may not be the second coming of Jon Bon Jovi. He starts out with no musical skill or inclination to speak of, but he finds himself thrust in the middle of a rather insane rock and roll adventure, and he’s got to navigate his way through it, and try to find his inner “megalord of rock.”
I’ve been asked that question before, and after trying on a few different responses, I’ve learned the plain and simple truth: I was a thirteen-year-old kid who very much wanted to find his inner “megalord of rock.” All right, I suppose I still do.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
What is up next for you?
I’m currently working on a Y.A. mystery novel that should come out some time next year.
Do you have anything else to add?
Only my sincerest thanks for inviting me in and listening to me yammer! Thanks so very much again for having me.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Barnabas. We wish you much success.