Q&A with Lisa Barr, Author of The Unbreakables

by Heather Caliendo
The Unbreakables Author Lisa Barr interview - Book Club Chat
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Lisa Barr is the author of The Unbreakables and Fugitive Colors. In addition, Lisa served as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, managing editor of Moment magazine, and as an editor/reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Unbreakables is the first novel I’ve read from Lisa and I loved it (check out my review and discussion questions). Get to know Lisa with the below Q&A where she discusses inspiration behind The Unbreakables, the importance of setting in novels, writing different genres and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

I have a lot of faves – but these beauties have a permanent home on my nightstand: The Diary of Anne Frank, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, vintage Nancy Drew (The Clue in the Old Album), Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

In my second-grade essay, when my teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grow up, my opening line: I want to write books.

What inspired you to write The Unbreakables?

It was July 2015, and a story broke about Ashley Madison, a web site for married cheaters. Their motto was “Life is short. Have an affair.” (I’m not joking). Hackers made good on a threat that if the infidelity site didn’t shut down they would reveal the estimated 32 million names of its users. And so there I was with a small group of friends, having dinner, and reading off the list of Ashley Madison cheaters in our community together (Awful, right? Not my proudest moment). I was shocked—neighbors, high school friends, acquaintances, etc. were on this exposed list of cheaters from the hacked site. It was the train wreck that you knew you should just look away, but simply couldn’t. The story began to form in my mind …   

I love the setting in France! Can you talk about why France was the ideal setting? 

Setting is like another character in my novel, with a personality of its own. The South of France is captivating. The air, the sea, the historic Medieval structures, the fragrance of lavender, the perfumeries … you can lose yourself there, and conversely, find yourself. Sophie Bloom, my protagonist, needed to break away from Suburbia. Her first stop was Paris, but ultimately, she rediscovers her true self amid the natural beauty of Provence. And by the way, doing research in Saint-Paul de Vence, was NOT torture. I bathed in it, utilizing all five senses every step of the way. I slowed down from moving in my usual fifth gear to take it all in. Only then, I could gift it to Sophie. It’s all about passion – and France is my Girl Crush.

There’s so much detail about sculpturing – can you talk about researching that field? Do you sculpt? 

I am not an artist, but I am a huge art lover and I gravitate toward art in some form in all of my work. My characters – whether historical or contemporary – are artists. I connect to the artist’s temperament and passionate nature. I did a lot of research on art and technique in both novels. I’m kind of a research junkie – it’s my journalist background that pushes me to insure authenticity. A few years ago, I met a wonderful sculptor in Napa. He fell in love with Fugitive Colors and I fell in love with his work. He taught me a lot, and gave me the background in sculpting for The Unbreakables. In addition, I researched like crazy, watched films, tutorials, and read articles. I geek out on research.  

The Unbreakables is women’s fiction while your first novel Fugitive Colors sounds like historical suspense (which I need to read it!). Can you talk about the process of writing different genres? Do you have a favorite genre?

As a journalist for more than 25 years, I have covered everything from terrorism in the Middle East to Sex & Relationships. As an author, I went from writing historical fiction to penning a hardcore sexy beach read. And guess what… I’m in the midst of jumping the genre ship once again into Suspense. But here’s the thing, I’m not all over the place. There is a method to my madness; a thread running through all of my work. It comes down to this: How far would you go for your passion? My genre is Love, Passion, Twists & turns – those ingredients are my must-haves and favorite books to read.

Can you give a sneak peek into what you’re working on next? 

It’s about a young journalist who is recruited to break into an art world scandal and bring down the thief – the most prominent art dealer in the world, who is living a double life. It’s historical and contemporary, sexy and suspenseful.

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

I just wrapped up Grant Ginder’s Honestly, We Meant Well – and loved it. Started Elyssa Friedland’s The Floating Feldmans last night, and Kimberly Belle’s Dear Wife is next. Reading for pleasure has been a little slower lately because I’ve been in full-on research mode for my new book. Also, I’ve been blurbing books for various authors. Loved Rochelle Weinstein’s newest (coming out in January) This is Not How it Ends. And when I’m not reading, writing, researching — I’m Netflix binge-ing on the couch with my Permanent Boyfriend, father of our three dramatic daughters. Let’s just say, I highly recommend “Guilty Pleasures.”

Thank you Lisa for participating in the Q&A! Click here to order The Unbreakables on Amazon.

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