Barkley, Brad

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Barkley, Brad


Born in Greensboro, NC; married; children: Lucas, Alex. Education: College degree.


Home—Western MD. E-mail—[email protected].


Author and educator. University of Southern Maine, instructor in fiction in Stonecoast M.F.A. program in creative writing; Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD, currently instructor in creative writing.


National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship; four individual artist awards, Maryland State Arts Council; two Emily Balch prizes for Best Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review; BookSense 76 Choice selection, Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers selection, and Washington Post Best Books of the Year designation, all 2000, all for Money, Love; (with Heather Hepler) Teddy Award for middle-grade/young-adult fiction, Writers' League of Texas, 2006, for Scrambled Eggs at Midnight.



Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.

Dream Factory, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Circle View: Stories, Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 1996.

Money, Love (novel), Norton (New York, NY), 2000.

Alison's Automotive Repair Manual, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Another Perfect Catastrophe, and Other Stories, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Short fiction anthologized in New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 2002. Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Southern Review, Glimmer Train, Book, Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Oxford American.

Author's works have been translated into German, Portuguese, and Japanese.


The award-winning author of novels and short fiction for adult readers, Brad Barkley also collaborated with Texas-based writer Heather Hepler on the young-adult novels Scrambled Eggs at Midnight and Dream Factory. Praise for Barkley's adult novels Money, Love and Alison's Automotive Repair Manual frequently focuses on the author's interest in humane themes such as forgiveness, hope, and the search for truth and purpose despite sometimes daunting circumstances. In reviewing Alison's Automotive Repair Manual, for example, a Publishers Weekly contributor called Barkley's story about a young widow trying to put her life back together by rebuilding her brother-in-law's Corvette a "quirky, emotionally resonant" story that is enhanced by the author's "understated comic style and well-calibrated dialogue." In addition to writing, Barkley teaches fiction writing at the college level and at writing workshops, and also contributes short fiction to both magazines and anthologies.

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight and Dream Factory had their genesis at one of Barkley's writing workshops, when he met fellow writer Heather Hepler. As Barkley recalled to Cynthia Leitich Smith in an interview for Cynsations, "Mostly [Scrambled Eggs at Midnight] … started as a kind of game … novel ping-pong, I guess, just bouncing the chapters back and forth." Hepler wrote the first chapter after making a road trip to her sister's home in Austin, Texas. When she phoned Barkley for advice, the two broached the idea of a collaborative novel. "It started out as an experiment of sorts," Hepler explained in the same interview, "… just a game to keep both of us writing. It wasn't until we got about halfway in that we realized that we might just have a book." Working together, Barkley and Hepler completed Scrambled Eggs at Midnight less than two months, and sold it to a New York City publisher within weeks.

In Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, the couauthors focus on Calliope, a fifteen-year-old who is frustrated by the peripatetic life dictated by her free-spirited mother and the woman's job selling jewelry at Renaissance faires. The family's tent is pitched in Asheville, North Carolina, when Cal meets Elliot, a local teen who has had a similarly unconventional upbringing. When he became born again, Elliot's father developed extreme evangelical tendencies with regard to his Christian faith, and he has involved his entire family in running a summer camp for overweight Christian children. Elliot realizes that the budding romance between him and Cal is threatened even more by his father's unpredictable dictum than by Cal's mom's rootlessness.

Fortunately, other forces are at work that may help grant Cal her greatest wish: to remain in Asheville, where she can stay near Elliot and also enjoy the day-to-day sameness of a typical American life.

Dubbing Scrambled Eggs at Midnight a "tender, quirky romance," a Publishers Weekly contributor added that, despite the coauthors' somewhat idealized story line, "the intensity of the … emotions" of both Cal and Elliot seem "authentic." In Booklist, Gillian Engberg praised the use of alternating chapters, writing that, as "narrated in Cal and Elliot's hilarious, heart-tugging voices," a "potentially routine summer romance" is transformed by Barkley and Hepler "into a refreshing, poetic, memorable" tale. "YAs who enjoy love stories that are more than entertaining fluff will appreciate" Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, noted Claire Rosser in Kliatt. The novel, which evokes a "sense of place in the mountains of North Carolina," is made "vividly real," Rosser added, and in Kirkus Reviews, a critic concluded that Scrambled Eggs at Midnight features "better writing than that offered in most teen romances."

Barkley and Hepler employ the alternating-narration format in their second collaboration, Dream Factory. Instead of North Carolina, this young-adult novel moves the authors' teen romance to Disney World, and introduce Ella and Luke. The two teens are among the group who have summer jobs playing the part of costumed characters at the theme park. At first, the teens resist the attraction they feel for each other—after all, Luke's girlfriend is part of the Disney staff. When a strike among the main characters allows them to have their choice of roles, Luke chooses Dale the chipmunk, and his girlfriend takes Chip. Cartoon boundaries are soon crossed, however, when all the staff realizes that Dale is far too attentive to Ella's Cinderella.

In his discussion with Leitich Smith, Barkley discussed the collaborative process. "After having written some books solo, I worried whether I could collaborate and do it right," he recalled of the project's beginnings. However, working with Hepler "turned out to be even better than easy. It was, and is, the most fun I've ever had writing." For Barkley, "the challenge of any novel … is psychological … finding and understanding the character's center, his emotions and motivations, who he really is." While he admits that research is a must, "I'm also pretty lazy about it. My first impulse is just to guess, then research it later if I have to. It's amazing how often the guess turns out to be right."



Booklist, January 1, 1997, Brian McCombie, review of Circle View: Stories, p. 815; June 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 56.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2006, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 439.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2002, review of Alison's Automotive Repair Manual, p. 1711; February 1, 2004, review of Another Perfect Catastrophe, and Other Stories, p. 96; May 1, 2006, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 453.

Kliatt, May, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 347.

Library Journal, June 15, 2000, Patrick Sullivan, Money, Love, p. 111; December, 2002, Rebecca Kelm, review of Alison's Automotive Repair Manual, p. 174.

Publishers Weekly, December 16, 1996, review of Circle View, p. 44; March 19, 2004, review of Alison's Automotive Repair Manual, p. 39; June 19, 2006, review of Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, p. 64.


BookPage, (March 1, 2003), Jay Lee Macdonald, interview with Barkley.

Brad Barkley Home Page, (April 15, 2007).

Cynsations, (April 26, 2006), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Hepler and Barkley.

Heather Hepler and Brad Barkley Home Page, (March 15, 2007).