Barry Hoffman has been a teacher, a publisher, an editor, and, of course, a writer. Hoffman’s eight adult books have been well received by critics and most recently, he is the author of the popular young adult novels, The Shamra Chronicles; the last novel in the series, Chaos Unleashed, will be released May 2011. What do all of his novels have in common? All have females as protagonists and more than half of the antagonists are also females. These female characters are strong and often flawed, but they are definitely not dependent on males to save the day.
As the father to two strong-willed, independent daughters (one of whom was named after Shamra’s Dara), grandfather to a ten-year old granddaughter in the same mold, and teacher to fifth to eighth grade students, Barry was influenced to write these kinds of strong female characters. Throughout his thirty years as an inner-city school teacher in Philadelphia, he found the eleven to fourteen year old girls he taught to have unique and diverse personalities, which helped shape the young women in The Shamra Chronicles. In fact, each book of The Shamra Chronicles is populated with young women bearing a remarkable resemblance to those who have walked through his classroom door.
Barry believes that adolescent and teenage girls need to read books where there are positive role models with which they can identify. He has written all three Shamra Chronicles books: Curse of the Shamra, Shamra Divided, and Chaos Unleashed with the hope that girls will latch onto Dara as an independent, increasingly mature young woman, rather than reading novels where the main female character is submissive and subject to the whims of the boy over which she obsesses.
Inspired by President Obama’s call to give back to the community, Barry set out to donate 10,000 copies of his young adult novel Curse of the Shamra in 2009. He provided copies to schools (with a special focus on Title 1 schools in dire need of resources), libraries, military families, Girl Scouts, and other organizations with a Young Adult audience. He has already surpassed his goal, giving away 11,145 copies of The Shamra Chronicles to date!
Barry also conducted an Author in Residence program in 2009 and 2010 at classrooms in Colorado. The students all received free copies of Curse of the Shamra, and Barry led weekly discussions about characters, plot developments, choices made and their consequences, along with discussing critical thinking and writing skills. The project culminated with student projects and essays.
In addition to writing The Shamra Chronicles and eight other novels, Barry is well-known as the Publisher and Editor of Gauntlet Magazine, a magazine dealing with censorship, and as Publisher at Gauntlet Press, Winner of 1999 Stoker Award for Best Small Press, which produces collectible editions of classic and previously unpublished books. Barry has lived in Colorado since 2002. He grew up in New York and spent his entire teaching career in Philadelphia.