Kathleen Barber’s thriller "Are You Sleeping: A Novel" (Gallery Books 2017; $26) tells the story of Josie Buhrman who thought she had put the trauma of her early life behind her.
A hit investigative podcast about her father’s murder brings the past back, compelling her to return to the small Illinois town of Elm Park where she grew up.
“The main storyline of 'Are You Sleeping' was inspired by true crime podcasts like ‘Serial,’ says Barber, a graduate from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law, who previously practiced bankruptcy law at large firms in Chicago and New York.
“I was utterly captivated with the first season of ‘Serial’ when I listened to it in the fall of 2014-- so much so that I spent a lot of time reading about the podcast online and visiting forums where the underlying case was discussed. At one point, I caught myself doing an online image search for some of the people involved in the case, and I realized that I had perhaps crossed a line from interested to inappropriately obsessed. It was then that I started thinking about how the popularity of the podcast must feel to the people on the other side of the case--the people who I was image-searching for, the people who were interviewed for the podcast, and, most of all, the family of the victim."
Barber, who was born and raised in Galesburg, Illinois, says she wants to tell stories about women from the Midwest and used her hometown as the setting for her book.
“When I was writing "Are You Sleeping' I could envision the characters walking down certain real-life streets in Galesburg and drinking in existing bars,” says Barber.
FYI: A talk and book signing by author Kathleen Barber will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Lit Books, 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd., Chicago. Cost is free; book will be available for purchase. Call 773-235-2523 or visit citylitbooks.com