What's Fresh with Jennifer Lynn Barnes's The Squad Series
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.
Hello Jennifer! It's awesome to have you back on YA Fresh to chat about your new Squad series! Please tell us about your latest novels: The Squad: Perfect Cover and The Squad: Killer Spirit.
Jennifer: I have both books out on the same day (February 12th!), an experience that I think is probably a little bit like having twins. The books are published by an imprint of Random House, and they're the first two books in a series that follows the adventures of a loner with an "attitude problem" who finds herself suddenly and inexplicably being recruited as a varsity cheerleader. She soon discovers that the squad is a cover for a group of teen secret agents who have the perfect cover, because, as the squad captain says, "who's going to suspect the cheerleaders?"
So fun! Could you share a bit about the main character of the books and what makes her unique?
Jennifer: Toby is very different from any other character I've written. In some ways, she has a stronger sense of self than any of my other narrators- she knows who she is, and she isn't about to apologize for it, and she has no desire whatsoever to be anyone else. At the same time, though, she can be less self-aware than a lot of characters- she knows she's tough, but she has a blind spot when it comes to the ways in which she's a softie.
How did the idea for this series come about?
Jennifer: I have a mental list of books that I'd like to write some day. A couple of years ago, two entries on that list were "book about secret agents" and "book set against the backdrop of competitive cheerleading." Then one night, out of the blue, I realized that I could combine those into one book about cheerleading secret agents, and that's how the idea for THE SQUAD was born.
What do you hope readers will gain from reading this series?
Jennifer: First and foremost, I hope they have a really, really good time reading it. I'd be disappointed if I didn't make them laugh out loud at least a few times, and I'd hope that they go away with the same kind of affection for the other girls on the Squad that Toby develops. Beyond that, though, I do hope that people walk away with the idea that a person can be more than one thing- you can be a cheerleader AND technological wiz, or a fashion guru AND love studying languages. In the world of The Squad, everyone is more than they appear to be, and I hope people walk away from the books and look at the world expecting that there's more to their peers than what they see on the surface.
Wonderful, Jennifer! Best of luck with The Squad Series and thanks for sharing. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?
Jennifer: I just finished "Why I Let My Hair Grow Out" by Maryrose Wood, and it was fabulous. I'm a big fan of humor, and it made me laugh out loud several times. Plus, how could you not like a book with a snarky main character, a faery romance, guys with accents, and a bike tour through Ireland?
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a Fulbright Scholar and a recent graduate of both Yale University and Cambridge University. A former competitive cheerleader, she was named an All-American Cheerleader by the National Cheerleaders Association in 1997. She can neither confirm nor deny any experience she may or may not have had as a secret agent, but she can tell you that in addition to the Squad series, she’s the author of three other teen novels: Golden, Tattoo, and Platinum. Jennifer wrote her first book when she was still a teenager and she is currently hard at work on her next. Visit her online at www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com.