Barbara Dana

About Barbara Dana's writing

Charlotte and Barbara Dana worked together on four books.  Bookcover"Charlotte always assists in my telling the story I want to tell, in my way, only better," says Barbara. "It's never her version. It's always about helping me be  truer to myself. As a friend she does the same thing. I'm endlessly grateful to have her in my life."

All of the Barbara Dana books Charlotte edited have been chapter-length books. Zucchini (cover pictured above) is for readers age 8 to 11. It concerns a small, feisty ferret named Zucchini, who longs to escape the Bronx Zoo,  where he was born...and does.

Two Dana novels for teenagers, Crazy Eights and Necessary Parties (a 1986 ALA Best Book for Young Adults, which was later made into a television drama)  both explore  contemporary settings, themes and issues. 

By contrast, Young Joan is a radical departure.Joan.gif (602710 bytes)Set in the uneasy France of the Hundred-Years War, it imagines the early life of Joan of Arc, as told in diary-like manner in her own voice, with a beautiful, almost liturgical rhythm.  "Dana portrays a Joan true to her own time, neither a feminist nor an hysteric, but a mystic, a child for whom God always came first," wrote critic Roger Sutton, of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

A little about Barbara

An actor, screenwriter, and writer, Barbara Dana was born in New York City. She is the mother of three grown sons. Barbara enjoys going on wilderness wolf-watching expeditions with her friend, author/ naturalist Jean Craighead George

It was as an actor, playing in a production of Joan of Lorraine, that Barbara first felt called to write her book about the young saint, although, she recalled at the time the book was published, "My life has been filled with the power of the spirit of Joan for as long as I can remember." Barbara actually worked on the book at Joan of Arc's home in Domeremy, France.  

She is pictured, below, doing just that, in about 1983. 

Barbara is currently working on a project about Emily Dickinson, spending as much time as she can at Emily Dickinson's home in Amherst, Massachusetts.  

More from Barbara on being edited by Charlotte

"Charlotte is my dream editor and treasured friend. As an editor she has a way of saying that simple thing that makes you want to run back to your computer (typewriter in the earlier days) and re-write. 

"Years ago, after writing my first draft of Zucchini, I sent it to many publishers, all of whom turned it down. Several of the responses were lengthy and all were negative, but nobody said anything I could understand, or connect with. I put the manuscript away in major discouragement. 

"A year or so later I did my first book with Charlotte, Crazy Eights. I LOVED working
with her. When we finished I asked her to take a look at Zucchini. She called me a few days later and said, 'Barbara, dear, it's lovely, but it's two books. Save the last third for another book and spend more time with the kids.' I couldn't wait to get back to work. The new draft tumbled out in an effortless stream.

"Zucchini has been my most popular book." 

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Barbara Dana, 2000

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