Today I’m featuring an interview with Barbara Newman, author of The Dreamcatcher Codes, which I previously reviewed. Here she talks about her writing and why she thinks young people should have hope for the future and feel empowered.
How did you get started writing books for young readers?
BN: As a mother, reading with my children was a special time of connection. It brought us on grand adventures and became a jumping off point for important conversations. Story and character, time, and place—all of it presented opportunities and teachable moments between me and my children. As mine grew, (they’ve flown the nest) I found that I loved some of the young adult literature as much as they did. It enhanced my own imagination. Having imagination is the essence of creativity. I didn’t set out to write for young readers—but this story, The Dreamcatcher Codes, just came out of me. It wasn’t planned. It just happened.
What do you think are some of the challenges writing for that group?
BN: Children and tweens are highly intelligent- sometimes much more than we give them credit for. I learned early on during the writing process that in order to connect with them, it meant respecting them, meeting them where they were, not where I thought they might me.
What do you like most about it?
BN: Two things come to mind when writing for young people. It brings me back to a time in my own life when I felt that anything was possible. For me, seeing through a young person’s eyes is a gift. I also like writing for this group because I know the power of story. A book can change the way a young person sees themselves and their place in the world.
Why did you want to write The Dreamcatcher Codes for a young audience?
BN: I deeply care about the environment and wanted to bring a message of hope to our young generation. I’m also an advocate for girls’ leadership.
I want my readers to see the natural world through new and wondrous eyes, which will inspire them to protect our precious planet. At the very end of the book, I list resources for my readers—there are wonderful national organizations that encourage and empower our youth to be an ally for the earth in fun and creative ways.
The book features an important message about the environment, but is there something else you are hoping to get across to your audience?
BN: The Dreamcatcher Codes builds cultural bridges, unity and hope while illuminating two critical issues of our times: climate change and girls finding their voices and vital place in the world. Girl power is a big theme. (Sometimes I call it “cowgirl spirit.”) Diversity, belonging, and identity are also important messages. So is sisterhood, empathy, cooperation, and resilience—it’s all wrapped up in a little bit of magic, myth and mystery.