Lisa Barr is the author of the new novel, “The Unbreakables.” We were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy! Check out what we thought of it:
Review of “The Unbreakables” by Lisa Barr
“The Unbreakables” by Lisa Barr is a whirlwind of emotions that will have readers on the edge of their feet, refusing to stop reading until they hit the very last page. The story follows Sophie Bloom whose husband was outed as a regular on Ashley Madison, a service for people who are already married. After this devastating news, Sophie goes on an adventure to find herself.
The most important aspect to this story is Sophie. Readers will cheer for her and feel for her. They will be mad and happy and every other emotion in between. After something devastating happened to her, she goes to France to find what about her past is still part of her world and what about her present and future she wants to have.
For any reader wanting to explore the deeper decisions of their life, reading this beautiful novel will give them perspective. “The Unbreakables” by Lisa Barr shows how strong women are, how big the world can be, and the difficulties of life’s unexpected hurdles. It’s a wonderful read and incredible story.
Q&A With Lisa Barr
We had a chance to talk with the author herself after reading her novel! Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us a bit about yourself! What do you do?
I am an author/journalist/blogger based in the Chicago area. During the brutal winters (read: Polar Vortex), I ask myself multiple times a day: Why do I live here? I married the Boy Next Door (got it right on my second-time around) and we have three amazing daughters (aka: Drama Central). I have traveled the world and had some really interesting jobs along the way including serving as an editor at The Jerusalem Post, managing editor at Moment magazine, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, an editor/reporter at The Chicago Sun-Times, and editor/creator of GIRLilla Warfare (a parenting blog). In a nutshell, I write daily, do lots of yoga, drink coffee and good bourbon, binge on Netflix with my hubby, and nag my daughters to clean their rooms.
You wrote a book called The Unbreakables. What is it about and why were you inspired to write it?
It was 2015, and the Ashley Madison cheating scandal just broke after hackers exposed all 32 million names on the website. I was with a small group of friends, having dinner, and reading off the list of Ashley Madison cheaters in our community together. (I know. Awful, right?) I was shocked… but there it was—neighbors, high school friends, acquaintances, etc. on this exposed list of cheaters from a hacked website. It was the train wreck that you knew you should just look away, but simply couldn’t. The story began to form in my mind.
The Unbreakables is about a Chicago woman who jets off to France after her “perfect” marriage collapses, putting the broken pieces of herself back together while rediscovering her own joie de vivre—a lust for life, art, and passion. It’s sexy, but tackles betrayal, second chances, mother-daughter bonding, reinvention, finding love again. It’s a passionate tribute to a woman’s strength in the face of adversity. My protagonist, Sophie Bloom, is a hot mess turned badass and I kinda fell in love with her. Did I mention that my “research” was in the South of France? This book was truly a labor of love.
You wrote another book called Fugitive Colors. What’s it about and why were you inspired to write it?
The Unbreakables is about a woman whose life was stolen out from under her, and my debut novel Fugitive Colors is a historical thriller about stolen art during the Holocaust. Very different novels, but both share my absolute love of art and artists.
Fugitive Colors is a suspenseful tale of an artist’s revenge on the ‘eve’ of WWII. I did research for more than three years before I sat down to write it. At the time, I was a managing editor of a women’s magazine in Chicago, and I was sent on assignment to cover the “Degenerate Art” Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Entering the museum, I literally stopped in my tracks — I knew I had found my story. As a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I never knew about the Nazis relentless mission to destroy the avant-garde — particularly painters. Hitler and his henchmen went after the German Expressionists with a vengeance never seen before.
I am a writer not an artist – but I needed to understand what made someone both a murderous madman and an artist, and then the story began to unfold in my mind. I would literally dream about my characters, and actually when I finished writing this book it was very hard to let go.
You have a background in journalism. What made you want to write novels?
I love being a journalist but admittedly, I love being an author more. Having worked as a journalist for 25 years, it really helped me to stay focused and disciplined in my fiction writing. But every word I write, every story I tell — the who, what, when, where, why, and how (Journalism 101) is etched in my brain. You can take the girl out of journalism, but not the journalism out of the girl. Writing has to be tight, and every signal word counts. It’s the same in fiction, but you have the luxury to expand, to add all the adjectives that as a journalist you are forced to leave out. I have been fortunate that as a journalist I’ve interviewed many celebrities, VIPs, politicians, and world leaders. The one thing you realize is that once you strip away the titles, everyone wants the same thing: to love, to be loved, to feel safe, to feel worthy and experience joy and accomplishment. For me, both careers have worked hand-in-hand and have helped me become a become a better writer and provided me with an in-depth understanding of all kinds of characters.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and how you create your novels?
When my kids were younger and dependent, I was always “stealing” time. I would write at 5 AM while they were sleeping, or at night when they went to sleep, and later on, while they were in school. And now that they are all in college (one just graduated – still can’t believe it!), my time is mine. I write best in a cafe. Writing can be lonely, a very solo experience. I like having people around, feeling the buzz, getting ideas, hearing airborne dialogue. I have a basic outline before writing, but once I get in … the characters do all the work and I tag along.
What has been the biggest struggle for you as a writer?
As I mentioned, time is an issue. Writing is breathing for me, and if I can’t get to it because I have other demands, it’s hard. Final edits and pub house demands don’t always coincide with your personal life events. For example, The Unbreakables launches on June 4 in New York City. Guess when my eldest daughter needs to move cities to start her first job? Yes, June 3, and she needs my help. And of course, I want to be there for her. Let’s just say, it’s going to be crazy making it all happen. Juggling, balancing, etc. has been hands-down the hardest part.
Is there a fun fact about yourself, unrelated to books and writing, that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?
There are a lot of fun facts and crazy stories along my personal journey. But one interesting factoid is that in high school, my second semester senior year, I worked with the police to break a child porn ring. I was utilized as “bait”and we did it. It was a big, important moment for me that I will never forget.
What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?
Don’t give up. This is a hard business whether you are just starting out or a New York Times bestselling author. There are pressures on all of us. Deadlines, publishing house approval, edits, revisions, rejections, social networking demands 24/7. We are all in this crazy biz together. If you love to write — if you HAVE to write — keep going despite the disappointments and challenges. You will get there, I promise. The road is not easy for any of us. And do not believe in “overnight sensations” — pure urban legend.
What do you want readers to gain the most from your book?
Life has many twists and turns. When everything falls apart, there still is a Second Act, new leases, new beginnings, the fat lady is not singing yet. Everything my character has been through, I, too, have been through on a different level. Years ago, I lost everything and had to seek a new life when my old one fell apart. My fave sentence in the book, which sums what I want the reader to gain, comes from one of my minor characters – a French millennial artist named Lea (love her). She and Sophie Bloom become friends (and yes, more) … Sophie has opened up to her about the devastating pain of her broken marriage. Lea looks at her and says: “My mother used to tell me when I doubted myself that no one wants to be with a shell. Be the pearl, Sophie, and you will find you again.” Here’s the takeaway: No matter what happens, it’s the spirit … that is truly unbreakable.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I just want to keep evolving with my writing, being a great mom and wife. I would love to have a fabulous beach house, wake up to sunshine, the ocean, coffee, my kids, and my laptop. Every year is a blessing and life still excites me. All the possibilities that lie ahead.
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?
I always tell young writers to write what they love, because that passion translates.
Readers: Read what you love and in this day of social networking, you can connect directly with authors. I love hearing what moves you, what makes you want to turn the page and most importantly, it helps me become a better writer. I am so appreciative of my connection with both readers and the writing community. It’s been THE THING that keeps me going. I’m a huge people person and an emoji addict (my family teases me relentlessly). I appreciate everyone who chooses my book among the endless fabulous literary choices, so feel free to reach out, and I promise, to connect right back… with an emoji.
“The Unbreakables” by Lisa Barr will be available wherever books are sold starting June 4th, 2019.