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August 23, 2017

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Rebecca Barrow

Kate Hart
Rebecca Barrow's upcoming YA debut, You Don't Know Me But I Know You, releases next week. The fact that it takes on abortion and adoption is enough to qualify Rebecca as a badass, but if you follow her anywhere online, you know that's just the tip of the badass iceberg. Read on to learn how she became a writer, her take on feminism, who she names as fellow badass ladies -- and don't forget to enter her giveaway at the end, open internationally!


cover of You Don't Know Me But I Know You
Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Rebecca: I’m a YA author and my first book is coming out VERY SOON! It wasn’t really a complicated path to get here: I’ve always written stories (terrible ones) and when I was sixteen I decided that my former career dreams of fashion buyer/screenwriter/nurse were out and author was in. I actually decided not to go to university, even though I already had a place and everything, because I just really wanted to write and didn’t want to get into debt taking lectures I wasn’t interested in that would be no guarantee of me getting published. It was a big risk and I don’t necessarily recommend it for everyone! But it’s starting to pay off. Sometimes I think the only thing that got me from that sixteen-year-old to published author was sheer stubbornness. (I am every inch the Scorpio.) I had decided to do this and therefore I had to make it work. Obviously I got the other two parts of the equation, luck and timing, but even now when I’m being hard on myself and thinking you’ll never be successful, this other part of me is like Oh yeah? Fucking watch me.

cross-stitch of the word "bitch" surrounded by flowers
Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?

Rebecca: I play the piano; I started like so many people, when I was six or so, and did all my grades, briefly considered getting a diploma in music, and then quickly realized it was not for me. I still play but not as often, and only for myself. I’m not good at composing, so I only play pieces written by other people, and I actually find that a relief. Writing is so much creating things from nothing, but playing music is just a matter of taking what’s already there and making it come alive. I also go through phases of needle-based crafts—last was knitting, now it’s cross stitch. Again, I just follow patterns—it’s this feeling of satisfaction knowing that all I have to do is follow the instructions and I’ll end up with a pretty thing. Sadly there are no instructions for writing books and what I end up with is rarely pretty, at least not before I take six months to a year to make it that way. So it’s nice to have other outlets where the creation is beyond my control.

Rebecca playing piano
Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Rebecca: Worrying about what other people think of me. Constantly. And what they think of my work, and should I change this or that to appease their imaginary opinions of me, and will that make them like me/my work or take me more seriously…am I cool author, do readers like me, should I be more like X or Y to be successful? It’s EXHAUSTING.

Kate: Tell us something that makes you proud.

Rebecca: I’m proud that I’ve gotten this far in my writing career. It’s hard sometimes to remember how impossible this all seemed—I think that’s a trap many creative people fall into. Failing to stop and appreciate how far you’ve come, and instead focusing on how far you have to go until the next goal. A few years ago all I wanted was to get a literary agent. A few years before that, it was to write a book-length thing. Now I have written more manuscripts that I’d like to remember, gotten an agent, sold a book that’s very important to me, and that book is coming out into the world. Ten-years-ago me would be astounded, and I think present-me should remember that.

Also I do love when people say my book made them cry. Sorry not sorry for playing with your emotions!

Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work? 

Rebecca: I don’t think I’ve had any BAM moments—it’s been more a slow opening of my eyes. I think I’ve always considered myself a feminist, and I was definitely raised to think of myself as a feminist, but as I get older and read and learn more, my definition and understanding of that word expands. I think all of my work is feminist, even in ways I don’t explicitly intend. I write about teenage girls, mostly mixed race/black, dealing with reproductive health issues, mental health, relationships, sexuality—even if I wasn’t doing it intentionally, these things are viewed through such a lens of Politics anyway. But I am doing it purposefully and with intention, and I hope that always comes through.

Lightning round: Tell us what you’re…    

reading: Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr
watching: Pretty Little Liars, always
listening to: Christina Aguilera’s third album Back to Basics. Where is the next album???
eating: Skittles
doing: thinking about the next book
wearing: Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in Blackest Black
wishing for: Miu Miu jeweled acetate sunglasses in blue
wanting: stability, sunshine
loving: my pets

Kate: Who are some other badass ladies we need to know & why? 

  • Nicolette Mason—fashion writer and blogger talking about body positivity, fat fashion, queer issues. site | twitter
  • Ruby Tandoh—food writer talking about body positivity, the politics of food and the diet industry, mental health, queer issues. twitter | her books
  • Alice Fanchiang—poet, ray of sunshine, Hamilton superfan, geek fashion queen. IG | her poem Skin

first pass pages for You Don't Know Me But I Know You
Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Rebecca: Listening and amplifying other voices. Support their work—buy their books, music, creations; share their stories, in their own words. Ask what is needed of you and then do it.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Rebecca: Find people who get you and understand what you want to do. You won’t feel so alone.


A finished copy of You Don't Know Me But I Know You + a print of its characters
open internationally!


Rebecca Barrow writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read. YOU DON'T KNOW ME BUT I KNOW YOU is her first novel.  //  twitter  //  instagram
goodreads  //  amazon  //  bn


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