P.I. Barrington – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Future Imperfect Book One: Crucifying Angel (Volume 1) is currently out; it’s the first book in the series which is a trilogy. I call it a ‘near-future’ crime thriller with a romantic element. It’s set in Las Vegas in 2032 where the environment has been fairly destroyed along with the economy of that city. I usually don’t write hard technical science fiction, I try to base my technology as close to what may be developed in a few years. I want people to relate to that world as opposed to something so far in the future that the technologies are the actual characters.

Miraculous Deception, Book Two, I literally just sent to my Editor a week or so ago. It’s scheduled for June 2010 release. It picks up where the first one left off and it has a little more intrigue than Crucifying Angel, more betrayal and twists.

Oh, and I have a cozy mystery that I co-authored with my sister, Loni Emmert that will be out in August.

Tell us something about yourself.

I have a journalism background and an entertainment industry background. My first “real” job was as a cub reporter for my little hometown newspaper. Eventually, I worked in music and radio in Hollywood for ages. Other writers want to strangle me, but this is true, I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to work in music. I wanted to meet my idol since age seven, Paul McCartney and I did. Both he and Linda before she passed away, and they were definitely two of the most gracious human beings I’ve ever met. I hadn’t pick up a pen or sat at a keyboard for years, decades really. Finally, my family kept telling me to write something so I tried it again. It wasn’t like falling off a bike—my stuff was terrible—I’d been away from it for so long but eventually I got back into my stride and voices (yes, I have several) and got a couple of short stories published online and in print. That catalyzed me into taking writing a bit more seriously.

What inspired you to write this book?

Well, I like stories that are a little bit psychological along with any action. Guilt plays a big part in the human psyche and so many of our decisions in life are reactions to it; it makes us who we are and how we are. Everyone reacts differently and yet the same so I tried to give my characters baggage that would make readers relate to them even if in a small or sympathetic way. They’re not superheroes or heroines at all. But they’re also not anti-heroes.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

My publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing, was just starting up literally when I responded to a call for submissions posted on an online writing group. I had this manuscript I’d been fooling with for years and finally decided to try to submit it. Gail (Gail R. Delaney, Editor in Chief) passed on it but had this seminal idea for a story. She asked me to write up a first chapter and signed me for the series once she’d read it. I keep telling her its synchronicity.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

As I said, I didn’t want to be a writer. I had this image of some hardboiled, cigarette smoking hack at an ancient manual typewriter occasionally sucking down swigs of Jack Daniels from the bottle in between pecking out words. But I really didn’t have a choice in the long run. I’d been winning awards for writing since I was in like third grade. And aside from the horrible attempts after I’d returned to it, I realized it’s something that I can do fairly well whether I like it or not. My sister, Loni who writes as well, always tells me that no matter who you are or how famous you may be, there’s always something else you wanted to do in life, not necessarily what your gift may be. She always points out Garth Brooks—the guy is a superstar country music artist, but he had a fantasy of playing baseball. So did Michael Jordan. And Mike Piazza wanted to be a drummer in a rock band! So I guess she’s right about that. In the end you pretty much go with what you have been given.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

At this particular moment—synopsis writing, lol! I’m in the middle of one right now and I’m ripping my hair out. I am being sort of facetious. Probably the most difficult thing for any author is finishing that first book, that first manuscript. Something happens in your head when you do that. I think it’s that you’ve literally taught yourself how to write a novel. You’ve worked through the beginning and taught yourself how to do or not do it; you’ve struggled with that terrible, awful, sagging middle and learned how to deal with that; and finally you’ve forced yourself to have enough discipline to follow it through to the end. That’s the key I think—discipline. Once you’ve mastered discipline, you’re on your way.

How do you do research for your books?

Because I mainly write futuristic, I have a lot of leeway in what I write. I can make up stuff that may or may not come into existence because nobody really knows what the future will hold socially or technologically. I do use real locations in the Future Imperfect series though my actual businesses, etc. are invented. I’ve been to Las Vegas uncountable times and I love it there—the strange moon like seemingly barren desert, the tackiness of the casinos in the daylight; and the amazing excitement of the Strip lit up and buzzing at night. It’s just a bizarre combination of things coming together in a perfect storm of setting and atmosphere. I do have a homicide cop as a brother in law as well, so if I need to confirm something that comes in handy and I’ve worked at the outer edges of the medical field so I have an idea of how all of that works. If I really need to, I’ll go deep into research via Internet or text books or to the source (doctors, cops, teachers etc.,) directly but most of the time when I’ve done that, either I end up not needing it or it’s not that major of an issue for the book.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I pretty much learned how to write a viable novel; I learned that I am my own worst and best critic and that I need to be my own worst critic. If I’m hardest on myself and really honest with myself, then I have a chance at turning out something decent and hopefully enjoyable for my readers.

What are you reading now?

Seriously? Nothing. I don’t mean to sound snobby but I’ve hit my stride in style and voice and I don’t want to absorb something unconsciously that isn’t me; that isn’t my writing. Not only that but I’m so busy I don’t have time to pick up a book other than to look at the cover art!

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

It’s crazy since I write futuristic, but I adore ancient historical—especially religious historical. It doesn’t have to be religious or even romantic it just has to be ancient. History, ancient history is my absolute secret obsession. So, Colleen McCullough, James Michener, Mika Waltari; Taylor Caldwell is one of my favorites.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Well, I’m working on a couple. Miraculous Deception, Book Two Future Imperfect I finished two weeks ago and will go into editing any second. It’s the continuation of Book One, Crucifying Angel, a cliffhanger which my editor insists upon; it takes more twists and turns than Book One but I don’t want to give anything away. I also am working on a novella that will be part of a (real) science fiction anthology that Gail is putting together and will be out later this year also through Desert Breeze Publishing. And I mentioned the cozy mystery co-authored with my sister, out in August in print.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Discipline yourself and learn to look at your own work objectively. You can’t submit something that isn’t finished and the longer you procrastinate, the less likely you are to be published which in turn leads to frustration and discouragement. You don’t want to get stuck in that cycle. Also, be as professional as you can and not only with query letters, synopsis, etc., I mean with being objective about your writing. You have to be willing to admit that a passage or sentence or line of dialogue doesn’t work for whatever reason. I read somewhere that you’re not a writer until you can cut out your favorite passage for the sake of the book. It has happened to me more than once…

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I’ve sat on panels on writing at libraries, I’ve done interviews like this one; I’ve done live radio interviews. It’s a little difficult with an e-book to do signings at bookstores so I’ve had to learn to promote in alternate ways. I’m always willing to do guest blogging on other authors’ sites, my publishers’ sites; I haven’t done any articles lately but that’s always a possibility. Oh, and I’m just now getting into creating little marketing goodies like postcards, bookmarks, mugs, T-shirts, done for Crucifying Angel and Miraculous Deception. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some giveaways once my official website is fully functional.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Future Imperfect Book One: Crucifying Angel (Volume 1) is available at Amazon.com

Button Hollow Chronicles #1: The Leaf Peepers Murders will be available in print in August 2010 from Mainly Murder Press and various book outlets.
Further information on these and other upcoming books can also be found at http://thewordmistresses.com and we love to hear from readers there as well (or anywhere else you’d like to post)!