Denise Barry is one of the most exciting children’s authors of the moment! Her book “What Does The Tooth Fairy Do With Our Teeth?” has been a huge hit with young readers all over the world. She also has the distinction of being one of the few independent authors with the clout to move paperbacks. This interview with Denise was originally released as part of “Novel Reads By Novel Ideas.” However, I was reading through this older issue and realized this interview was too good to just be a magazine exclusive. So it has now found itself on my website.
I also want to mention that Denise is currently running a competition that will leave you speechless. How would you like to win a free Kindle HD Fire? If the answer is yes… Enter her competition now! You won’t regret it!
What does the Tooth Fairy do with our teeth? What a good question, and one clever kids have been asking through the ages!
Until now, there has never been an answer that comes close to revealing just how playful, creative and clumsy the Tooth Fairy can be! Oh, and let’s not forget naughty. Yes, the Tooth Fairy can be a little naughty sometimes, too. Just ask the moon!
Take a sneaky peek inside the Tooth Fairy’s world where you will be amazed and delighted by all of the fun, creative and magical things she might do with our teeth:
Maybe she cooks them all up in a pot
And what rises over them when they get hot
But a big cloud of steam as high as a jet
And down falls a rain, getting Fairy all wet!
But be warned—you may never look at the world in the same way again. Not the snow, the stars, or even a chocolate chip cookie!
My book is a children’s picture book, fiction, for ages 4-8. A fun, whimsical fantasy!
Yes, I do write in multiple genres.
What are they? Why? Do you feel it might confuse your readers?
Besides the children’s picture books, I write for middle grade readers, ages 8-12. I also write inspirational stories for adults.
I love writing for children because I act like one. I love fostering their imagination. I love that children love to play and laugh and have fun—they do this most often by using their imagination, and this is also how they learn.
I also love writing for adults because I am one, and I know how hard life can get. I’ll never stop learning from my experiences, so why not share these with others so that they can learn and grow from them, too? It’s a very connecting thing, to share our pain and joy with each other.
Since I write for both children and adults, people may think these are very different modalities, but because I write with the intent to inspire, they’re really not. I just use a different method to create inspiration for each.
How long have you been writing? How long did it take to write your book? And what motivated you to write it?
I’ve been writing since I was nine years old, on the same day Santa Claus brought me a shiny red typewriter (yes, I am THAT old)! I wrote a song for my mother with it that year.
I didn’t pursue writing as a career until a few years ago, and when I did, I got really serious about it. I don’t know why I waited so long because it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve met so many awesome people as a writer!
The book What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? took me a few months to write but the editing took forever, like a year! I would still be editing it today if I didn’t create a deadline for myself!
I wrote this book because when my daughter lost her first tooth and we read a book on the Tooth Fairy it made her ask, “What does the tooth fairy do with our teeth?” I had no idea! And I like to have ALL the answers. Googling an answer didn’t help. There were things like, “She crushes them to make toothpaste” and “She recycles them for babies and old people.” How gross is that?
There was nothing left to do but create my own ideas of what the Tooth Fairy might do with our teeth, so I literally searched everywhere for the answers. I looked in the sky and the ocean floor, I searched inside pots and behind closed doors, I got inside the Fairy’s head and pretended I took the teeth from bed! It was a really fun book to write.
Is it a stand-alone novel or part of a series? If it’s part of a series, how did you decide to make it a series? How long will the series run?
Well, I may write a book about the “Tangle Fairy” in the near future, which will have concepts similar to What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? I will try to answer the question of why we wake up with tangles in our hair! Wouldn’t you love to know this? I think someone is having a little fun while we’re sleeping, don’t you?
Who are your main characters in the story and how would you describe them?
The Tooth Fairy is the main character, but the teeth are a close runner up. The Tooth Fairy is clever, fun, playful, naughty and brilliantly creative. The teeth—well, let’s just say, you will never look a tooth in the same way again.
Is there any symbolism in your book that you’d care to share with potential readers?
To me, this book is symbolic of all the beauty and fun that is surrounding us every day, just waiting for us to notice it. All the little things that we miss or take for granted, but are there anyway. All we have to do is open our eyes, throw in a little imagination, and we are seeing things we didn’t know existed, and we are happier because of it.
Do any of the characters resemble you? How about friends or relatives.
My Tooth Fairy could be any one of us, young or old. She is the proud parent of her creations. She is the naughty child looking for attention. She is the master inventor when the juices start flowing. She is the fool who made a mistake. She lights up the room when she is happy. She is the giver and the taker and the creation maker, as the mood demands. She is all of it, as are we.
What is the worst thing reviewers or critics have said about your book?
The worst thing I’ve heard about my book is that it could use more characters. Great insight for future books!
What is the best thing reviewers or critics have said about your book?
Wow, there have been so many great things! My favorite is from the best-selling author and Oprah columnist, Karen Salmansohn. In her review she wrote that my book is sure to become a favorite bedtime story, a classic, and that her son loves it! Who could ask for more?
Have you tried submitting your book to publishers? If so, how many? Did they provide any feedback? What was that feedback? Will you be submitting it again? Would you still want to work with a traditional publisher now that you have self-published?
When I first wrote the book, I submitted it to publishers and agents. It’s funny, when I got the manuscript back, along with a rejection notice, I studied it closely to see if there were any creases in the paper showing someone had actually read it. It looked pretty fresh still, so I just don’t know…
My book actually got straight in the hands of a publisher once, not an editor, THE publisher of a big publishing house. I had a friend who kindly hooked me up. This woman emailed me and said she loved the book, BUT they had just taken on a Tooth Fairy book that month and couldn’t take on another. She told me I was very talented but….
Maybe that helped me get the courage to self-publish. Maybe I was just really tired of waiting for someone else to give me the green light.
The truth is, today you have to market yourself no matter what anyway, so I felt I had nothing to lose. I believed in my book unquestionably, so I found an amazing illustrator, had it professionally edited, and created the best book I could.
What has been the most difficult part of your writing experience? Dealing with publishers, agents, editors getting reviews, query letters, what?
The most difficult part of my writing experience has been keeping myself motivated, not giving up. I was shocked at how much is involved in getting a book published and then getting it in front of people, and it seems like everything goes wrong, at least once. Dealing with the “creative” people I did throughout the process was a very different experience for me. I’m talking about the people who built my website, did my PR (before Nick), the designers at the publishing house. I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself, “Is it worth it?” But nothing comes easy, and if it did, would you appreciate it as much? I learned to appreciate the learning experience.
Do any of your characters have secrets you can share with our readers?
The Tooth Fairy has a secret….but you can’t know it till the last page of the book!
If you were to be offered a movie deal, who would you like to see play the main characters?
My future book, Sweeney Mack in the Slurp and Burp Competition will be the one to get offered a movie deal. It wants to be a movie! And who would play Sweeney? If only Elijah Wood were little again!
Describe your writing process. Do you outline, create rough synopses, do you do detailed biographies of the characters before starting to write?
I usually get an idea for a children’s book or inspirational story without trying. The idea is the easy part. Then, when it’s time to write, sometimes it flows and I know just where to go; other times it takes quite a bit of effort. Either way, I don’t care. I go with the flow. I have fun with whatever process needs to be, and then when I’m not having fun anymore, I have a snack or take a nap.
My middle grade book was intensive labor at times! I outlined what would/could happen, I created rough synopses AND I found the need to create a detailed biography of each character. I needed to know them inside and out if I wanted to know what they would do next and how they would act while doing it. This is the book that taught me how hard writing can be. But it was also one of the most rewarding!
How much research do you do before starting to write? Where do you find most of your background materials? How do you fact check?
Even when I write fiction and I’m making something up—an event or an experience the character has—I want my story to sound believable. I do a lot of research for my books while I’m writing them when I’m unsure of something. I leave nothing unchecked. Being a self-published author means there will be no one checking your work, so the responsibility is all yours. I think it’s very important to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. I Google everything! I love technology!
What didn’t you mention in the synopsis that you can reveal here?
There is a really fun twist at the end of the book. Something unexpected. One kid that read it laughed so hard he almost fell off the bed!
If you had to do the experience of writing your work over, would you still write it? Would you change it? How?
I would write Tooth Fairy over and over and over. 1. Because I love it. It’s my baby! 2. Because I can’t stop editing it. I always think it could sound better if this or that.
How did you choose the story you wrote?
It chose me. My daughter wanted to know what the Tooth Fairy does with our teeth, and so did I. As soon as I realized other people probably did, too, I knew it was the perfect book! I never looked back, and I focused exclusively on the answers to the question. It needed no fillers!
How did you choose the title?
The title, even though it’s very long, made sense. There are other Tooth Fairy books out there, and I needed mine to stand out because of what it was about. People actually Google “what does the tooth fairy do with our teeth” quite often (I looked it up), and so of course that should be the title so it can be found!
How did you decide on the cover and did you design it or did you use a professional designer? However you created the cover, will you being do it that way in the future? Why or why not?
I love the cover of my book! I did not design it, the artist/illustrator of my book did. His name is Andy Boerger and he is amazing! Not only did he create the most beautiful, whimsical paintings, he had amazing ideas of how to portray each scene, and the cover was entirely his idea. I loved it when I saw it.
He has agreed to illustrate my next book, Soap on a Rope, and is working on it as we speak! I hope he will work with me on all my books in the future!
Can you summarize your book in 140 characters or less (Tweet size)?
Get a sneaky peek inside the Tooth Fairy’s world where you will be amazed and delighted by all of the fun, creative and magical things she may do with our teeth.
Who were the authors that influenced you? What about them and their style appeals to you?
I have always loved books that rhyme and the books by Julia Donaldson are my favorites, especially Room on the Broom.
What did you learn that surprised you while writing your book? What was the most difficult part?
I learned that rhyming is not easy! Rhyming so that it flows and doesn’t sound forced was a challenge! And then trying to convey what you wanted to convey while rhyming was insane! I learned there’s many ways to say something with the English language, thankfully.
What types of hobbies do you have? Are you active in sports or your community? Do these activities find their way into your books?
When I travel, I have this weird compulsion to touch things. I touch everything; seashells, rocks, trees, ruins, water. I think because I do this I notice things, like textures and patterns and (gasp) the tiny things that live inside what I’m touching. I think because of this, I can look at something and my imagination goes wild, which is how I was able to come up with some of the concepts for what the Tooth Fairy does with our teeth. An example of this is a pearl. A pearl is smooth, so is our tooth…that’s all I’m saying.
Have you traveled at all? Been to other countries? Have you lived in other states or countries?
I love to travel. I’ve been to other states and other countries, with my favorite being Spain. Barcelona is gorgeous!
How has that experience helped in your writing career? How has the type of employment you’ve had helped to enhance your writing career?
When you are open to experiencing other cultures and sub-cultures, and really embrace each one without judgment, you open yourself to great new ideas. Obviously this is beneficial in creating stories. But, this has helped me in writing because I see each person as an extension of myself, and when I write I feel like I’m writing for everyone in the world.
What do you feel is the best personal quality you bring to your writing career?
Fun, open mindedness, confidence.
Tell us something about yourself that you don’t usually share with anyone but close friends?
I am really afraid of loud noises. I have this weird, irrational fear of sound.
Where do you see your writing career going? Why do you think that?
I see myself as having a long career in writing. It’s what I love to do. One day, I’d like to pop a book out just because you and your kids are waiting for that next one from me. I hope to be successful like that.
What happens next? Is there another book? A new career in some other field? What are your future writing plans? Is it dependent upon this book being a success?
I do have another book and another, and then a lot of fun ideas after that! My next book, due out soon, is a picture book called Soap on a Rope.
Next is a middle grade book for ages 8-12 called Sweeney Mack in the Slurp and Burp Competition. This will be the first in a series.
Any day there will be a book coming out which I am a co-author of called Watch Her Thrive: Stories of Hope, Strength and Courage. All of the proceeds for this book will go to charity.
Books are going to be my career for a long time, and even though I hope this first book takes off like a rocket, it will not be dependent on what I do next. I will put the next book out and the next because I believe in them as much as I do this one. You know how you just know something is right for you? I know this is what I want to do, what I should be doing!
What is your end goal for your writing career?
I’d rather not think about “the end.” I know I’ll get there one day, but I’d rather not think about it! All I know is that I don’t know what will happen, but I’m open for anything!