(Derrick D. Barnes)
Born in Kansas City, MO; son of Catherine Barnes; married Tinka Barnes (a physician); children: Ezra, Solomon, Silas. Education: Earned associate of arts degree from community college; Jackson State University, B.A. (marketing).
Author. Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, MO, copywriter, 1999-2003. Has also worked as a secretary, landscaper, truck driver, and substitute teacher.
Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection and Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection, American Library Association, both for The Making of Dr. Truelove.
The Making of Dr. Truelove, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2006.
Brand New School, Brave New Ruby ("Ruby and the Booker Boys" series), illustrated by Vanessa Newton, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2008.
Trivia Queen, Third-Grade Supreme ("Ruby and the Booker Boys" series), illustrated by Vanessa Newton, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2008.
AS DERRICK D. BARNES
The Low-down, Bad-day Blues, illustrated by Aaron Boyd, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Stop, Drop, and Chill, illustrated by Barbara Jean Phillips-Duke, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
A former copywriter for Hallmark Cards, Derrick Barnes is the author of the highly regarded young-adult novel The Making of Dr. Truelove, as well as a number of titles for a younger audience, including Brand New School, Brave New Ruby. In a GreatDad.com interview, Barnes stated, "I always hope to accomplish two primary things with my characters and stories: 1) Give birth to positive characters that may not be in existence or properly represented in children's literature. 2) Weave together the kind of tales that children can relate to and introduce topics that haven't been tackled yet."
A graduate of Jackson State University, Barnes accepted a position with Hallmark in 1999, becoming the first African-American male writer to be hired by the company. "I worked there for three years," the author noted on his home page. "I learned so much about crafting my words, about editing, and about constructive criticism." After moving to Louisiana so his wife could complete her medical residency, Barnes left Hallmark and began pursuing a career as an author. His easy readers, The Low-down, Bad-day Blues and Stop, Drop, and Chill, were published in 2004. "I write for kids ages five to eighteen and touch on every age appropriate topic you could imagine," he stated on his home page.
The Making of Dr. Truelove concerns the relationship between Diego Montgomery, a brainy but socially awkward teen, and his girlfriend, Roxy. When Diego's insecurities drive Roxy away, she begins dating John-John McAfee, a talented, good-looking athlete. His spirits crushed, Diego decides to follow the questionable logic of his best friend, J-Live. He creates an online persona known as Dr. Truelove who dispenses advice about love and sex. According to J-Live, once Roxy learns the true identity of the slick, witty columnist, she will realize the error of her ways and take Diego back. Complications arise, however, as the Truelove character gains in popularity and takes on a life of its own. In an interview for the Simon & Schuster Web site, Barnes noted that The Making of Dr. Truelove is about how sometimes "we all take the wrong advice from the wrong people in our inner circles in regards to our own relationships." Writing in Kliatt, KaaVonia Hinton described the novel as "hilarious" but noted that "the language and the sexual scenes may be too mature for some readers." School Library Journal contributor Hillias J. Martin observed that "romance and urban-fiction fans will no doubt love the saucy comebacks, sexy language, and sheer ridiculousness" of Diego's predicaments.
Barnes is also the author of the works in the "Ruby and the Booker Boys" series about a spunky African-American girl and her three talented and popular older brothers. In Brand New School, Brave New Ruby, the third-grader is determined not to let her siblings' many accomplishments overshadow her own efforts. According to a critic in Kirkus Reviews, young readers "will find strength and motivation in Ruby's spirit."
Asked if had any advice for aspiring authors, Barnes told an interviewer on the Simon & Schuster Web site, "I would say continue to read as many genres and styles as possible. You have to find your voice. It isn't so much the story that's being told but how it's being told. You want your voice to be distinguishable and loud and vibrant and colorful and acrobatic and rhythmic and you."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2007, Karen Coats, review of The Making of Dr. Truelove, p. 242.
Kansas City Star, July 8, 2008, Lisa Gutierrez, "African-American Series Character Is a Role Model for Black Girls Her Age."
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2008, review of Brand-New School, Brave New Ruby.
Kliatt, January, 2007, KaaVonia Hinton, review of The Making of Dr. Truelove, p. 20.
School Library Journal, January, 2005, Corrina Austin, review of The Low-down, Bad-day Blues, p. 85; April, 2007, Hillias J. Martin, review of The Making of Dr. Truelove, p. 128.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2007, Jenny Ingram and Kristen Moreland, review of The Making of Dr. Truelove, p. 519.
Derrick Barnes Home Page,http://www.derrickbarnes.com (August 1, 2008).
Derrick Barnes Web log,http://derrickbarnes.blogspot.com/ (August 1, 2008).
GreatDad.com,http://www.greatdad.com/ (August 1, 2008), "Five Minutes with Derrick Barnes."
Pitch.com,http://www.pitch.com/ (August 19, 2004), Andrew Miller, "Black Listed: A Former Hallmark Writer Gets the Shaft."
Simon & Schuster Web site,http://www.simonsays.com/ (August 1, 2008), interview with Barnes.
TeensReadToo.com,http://www.teensreadtoo.com/ (August 1, 2008), interview with Barnes.