February 29th, 2008

The Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit presents Jennifer Barnes!

From the author of GOLDEN and TATTOO comes a new series about high school cheerleaders who are more than what they seem, and an outsider who must become one of them- to save the world. Part Charlie’s Angels, part Bring It On, THE SQUAD focuses on a group of government operatives who double as high school cheerleaders. Already optioned for television by The N, The Squad takes you behind the perfect smiles and too-short skirts to prove that there’s nothing more dangerous than underestimating a cheerleader… especially if she’s on The Squad.



The Squad: Perfect Cover

Bayport High operates like any other high school - jocks at the top, outsiders at the bottom, and everyone else in between. Enter Toby Klein, a sophomore computer hacker who doesn't play well with others. She has zero school spirit, a black belt in karate, and what her guidance counselor calls an "attitude problem." She's the last person you’d expect to be invited to join the varsity cheerleading squad.

But things are different at Bayport.

Bayport's varsity cheer squad is made up of the hottest of the hot. But this A-list is dangerous in more ways than one. The Squad is actually a cover for the most highly trained group of underage government operatives the United States has ever assembled. Athletically, they're unmatchable, though they make it all look easy on the field. Mentally, they're exceptional - but with one flash of their gorgeous smiles, you'll completely forget that. Socially, they're gifted, so they can command and manipulate any situation. And above all, they have the perfect cover, because, beyond herkies and highlights, no one expects anything from a cheerleader.

Toby Klein might not seem like the most likely recruit, but she’s never been one to turn down a challenge. If she can hand the makeover, Bayport High may just have found its newest cheerleader.

Pretty, popular, armed, and extremely dangerous - meet THE SQUAD.



The Squad: Killer Spirit

Saying Toby Klein is an unlikely cheerleader is like saying Paris Hilton might be into guys - understatement of the year. But the varsity squad at Bayport High gives new meaning to the phrase All-American, and Toby's double life as a varsity cheerleader and a government operative means balancing protocol, pep rallies, computer hacking, and handsprings.

Now something’s about to go down in Bayport, and the Big Guys Upstairs need to know what. The Squad is on the case, but it looks like this mission could put the "L" in lethal. And if the spy business doesn't kill Toby, it’s starting to look like Brooke, the team's captain, might. The nominations are in for homecoming court, and rumor has it that Toby is the unlikely frontrunner for queen.

Terrorist threat? Bloody mission gone wrong? Demented squad captain?

Bring it on.

Jennifer E: Do you write full-time? If not, what's your other job? What knowledge or experience from that other job do you use in your writing? Is it hard to switch from your other job to writing and back?

Jennifer B: I'm actually a full-time student. When I sold my first book, I was in college. Now I'm on my first year of graduate school; I'm going for a PhD in developmental/social psychology. For the most part, my two lives are pretty separate, but I've started to mix them a little more. I have a new series lined up that focuses on high school science, which is great since scientific research is what I do on a day to day basis. Conversely, some of my research is starting to focus on the psychology of fiction- why people like it, what its roots in human evolution are, etc.

Jennifer E: Do you expect to write full-time in the future?

Jennifer B: At this point, I don't have any plans to write full-time. I love both of my lives, and I wouldn't want to give either of them up!

Jennifer E: Where do you write?

Jennifer B: Lately, I've done a large percentage of my writing at the local mall. It has everything I need- a sandwich shop with wireless, free refills, and outlets aplenty, a bookstore if I need to absorb bookish things by osmosis, and an entire mall if I need to take a break.

Jennifer E: What makes you happiest about writing?

Jennifer B: Not to quote Nike, but just doing it. Really, if I'm writing, I'm happy. There's something about getting lost in my own world that is really incredible.

Jennifer E: Give us a run-down on all your books. How do you see this new book fitting into the work you've produced so far?

Jennifer B: My first three books were what I call "girly supernatural" and what other people sometimes call "urban fantasy chick lit." My first book, Golden, is about a girl who sees auras having to deal with the clique scene at a high school that has more than its share of supernatural students and teachers. The sequel, Platinum, came out last fall and is told from the point of view of the most popular girl in school, as she develops a supernatural Sight of her own. My second book, Tattoo, is kind of a supernatural Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsesque story about four best friends who put on temporary tattoos that give them psychic powers, leaving them as the world's last defense against an ancient evil.

My two latest releases, The Squad: Perfect Cover and the Squad: Killer Spirit, start a new series about a group of high school cheerleaders who double as secret agents. Even though The Squad is my first foray into a world in which the supernatural doesn't exist, the books are still pretty fantastical- I've just replaced ghosts and faeries with nanotechnology and spy missions. All of my books tend to be girl-centric, and I deal a lot with themes that involve the dangers of judging a person based on surface qualities or who they are in the high school world.
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Why my 6-year-old is no help in my writing

Me: What should my next book be about?
Son: A boy and a girl fall in love. He picks her up in his 737 and they fly to London. To McDonald's!

Me: What makes something cool?
Son: 1) Aerodynamics; 2) big guns that shoot water; 3) technology; 4) candy.

Me: Good night. Sleep tight.
Son: Mom, wait. There's something I've been meaning to tell you. [He utters this in a sleepy, angelic voice while fluttering his long eyelashes. Therefore I expect some sweet profession of love.]
Me: What is it, sweetie?
Son: Your jokes aren't funny. When you tell a joke, I'm like, "Ha ha," but inside I'm thinking, "I don't get it." Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Son: Thumping.
Me: Thumping who?
Son: Thumping's crawling up your leg. HAHAHAHAHA! Now that's funny.
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