Patch Spends Five Minutes with Bridget Barry
When Bridget Barry isn't teaching first grade at Columbus Manor Elementary School, she's writing children's books.
She’s Bridget Barry, a hometown girl and proud alumnae of St. Linus School and Mother McCauley Liberal Arts Academy. Barry graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 and is now back in Oak Lawn teaching first-graders at Columbus Manor (Dist. 122). This past June Barry released her first book, a sweet little children’s story called Sweet Dreams, published by Author House Publishers. She sat down with Patch recently to talk to us about how it all came about.
Oak Lawn Patch: What’s the story Sweet Dreams about?
Bridget Barry: It’s about a little boy named Timmy who, like most kids, dreads bedtime and doesn’t want to go to sleep, until his mom tells him about all the places his dreams can take him and that going to bed is actually an adventure just waiting to happen.
Oak Lawn Patch: From where did the idea for the story come?
Barry: I used to do a lot of babysitting and for those kids who didn’t want to go to sleep, I’d play a sort of game. I’d tell them to close their eyes and then I’d start a story and tell them they had to visualize the rest of it like a movie, in their heads, and finish it. The one rule was that if they opened their eyes it would ruin the story.
Oak Lawn Patch: What inspired you to look into publishing the story?
Barry: I wrote the story about three years ago and then put it aside and never did anything more with it. Then last year in my first grade class we started writing stories and all my students became authors. They were so infatuated with the idea that I received stacks of books in all shapes and sizes and put together with staples, glue— even Band-Aids! Their passion inspired me to start thinking about publishing the book.
Oak Lawn Patch: How have sales been?
Barry: Self-publishing is such a gamble. You invest a lot and you don’t get much of a return unless your book starts to sell massive amounts, so it was never really intended to be a profit-making venture. But I’ve actually sold a lot more than I thought I would. I’ve sold 700 copies since the book went live in June, so I’m about a third of the way to meeting my mark and I didn’t expect that.
Oak Lawn Patch: How old were you when you started writing stories?
Barry: When I was younger I wrote all the time, but now stories, mostly poems and song lyrics. I wrote my grandmother’s eulogy in rhyme when I was in sixth grade. Then in high school I got away from it altogether and didn’t pick it up again until college.
Oak Lawn Patch: Did you have any teachers along the way who inspired you?
Barry: Mrs. Tierney, my sixth-grade teacher at St. Linus. She still lives in Oak Lawn. She taught me how to write a proper research paper. We were doing biographies and mine was about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mrs. Tierney taught us to dig deep for the stories behind the story that would make our papers more interesting. I’ve always remembered that.
Oak Lawn Patch: Do you have any favorite children’s authors?
Barry: Amy Krause Rosenthal is one. I was introduced to her at a reading conference and she’s the most creative person I’ve ever met. My favorite book by her is Duck! Rabbit! You can’t tell by looking if the main character is a duck or a rabbit. The message is that what you see depends on how you look at it. She does a lot of clever stuff like that. Mary Ann Hoberman is another favorite because she is a poet like me. She writes conversational books that are meant to be read together with a child. I also like David Wiesner who is an amazing picture book creator.
Oak Lawn Patch: Can you name the book turned you on to reading?
Barry: I never liked reading until high school when I was assigned to read The Bean Trees, the debut novel by Barbara Kingsolver. From that point on I was hooked.
Oak Lawn Patch: What book are you reading right now?
Barry: Three Cups of Tea. It’s an inspirational true story about a man named Greg Mortenson who built schools in the most dangerous parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There’s also a really cool children’s version of the story called Listen to the Wind.
Oak Lawn Patch: Do you write with pen on paper or do you key on a computer?
Barry: When thoughts pop into my head I just grab a pen or pencil and whatever is around to write on.
Oak Lawn Patch: Do you ever have writer’s block?
Barry: No, because I write only when an idea pops into my head or when I’m inspired.
Oak Lawn Patch: Where do you like to hang out when you’re not working or writing?
Barry: Deja Brew. It’s a nice place to go after work and they have really great food. And the library, of course. My book is on the shelf there, so I love them!
Oak Lawn Patch: If you wrote an autobiography what would it be called?
Barry: When things are looking down, a friend and I have this thing we say: Smiles and Laughs. That’s what I’d call it.
Buy Sweet Dreams online at:
Or at Bridget Barry's website at www.dreamsaremagical.com.