Ask the Author: Barbara Dee

What would you like readers to know about you?

I don’t write autobiography. I don’t write stories specifically about my family, or about any particular person I know. But I do use assorted details from real life, and I have some personal, emotional connection to almost every story I want to tell. I also want to say I’m really excited about my next middle-grade novel, MY LIFE IN THE FISH TANK, coming from Aladdin/S&S on September 15, 2020!

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?

MAYBE HE JUST LIKES YOU is about a seventh-grade girl named Mila who’s receiving unwanted attention from a group of boys at school. When she protests, they tell her she’s too sensitive, it’s just a joke, she’s imagining it. Mila is reluctant to seek help from adults, and some of her friends react in unpredictable ways. Eventually, with the help of a karate class and some new alliances, she figures out a way to be heard.

What has been your inspiration for writing it?

When the MeToo stories were dominating the news in the winter and spring of 2018, I wondered where sexually harassing behavior originates.  I did some research and discovered that many educational experts think it starts around seventh grade. I couldn’t find a middle-grade novel on the shelves that addressed the sort of everyday harassment girls deal with in middle school, so I decided to write it myself.

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?

I liked writing the scene when Mila talks to the substitute guidance counselor. It was a challenge to write because they’re not connecting at all, even though they’re having a conversation. Mr. Dolan is a good guy who thinks he’s doing a good job, but he’s completely not getting what Mila is communicating.

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?

Too many to list, but one book that inspired me as a kid was Harriet the Spy.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

Get used to sharing your work, even when it’s not finished. All feedback is precious.

All my books can be purchased through local indie bookstores, Bookshop.org,, IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble—as well as through my publisher, Simonandschuster.com.

On Twitter I’m @Barbaradee2. On IG I’m Barbaradeebooks.

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