P.S. Barta – Author Interview

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

My first and most recent novel is titled A Case of Intent.

Tell us something about yourself.

When I was young my aunt bought me a card game called Authors. This game was a matching game and each card had an image and bio of notable authors from the ages – Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickenson, you can guess the list. I don’t know if it was this game or the Francis Farmer Presents afternoon movies or just something given to me at birth, but I have always been interested in stories and telling them – either verbally, in pictures or with words. As I entered junior high my mother enrolled me in classes at the Jr. Civic Theater, which just freed this love of stories and stepping into these ‘other worlds’.

This might have contributed to the struggle I had as a young adult in finding my sensible place in the world. I was pushed towards data entry and secretarial works, and learned to shut down the day dreams. Eventually I worked into serving as a computer trainer and systems engineer, though for mostly communications industry companies.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had returned to school to finish a degree when my career hit yet another RIF, and ended up in a creative writing class. This was in 1999, when so many were walking around mumbling ‘but he lied’. I was struggling with an assignment and went to bed. That morning, early, a helicopter hovered outside my eighth story apartment and the story took flight. Of course it wasn’t really a short story and after graduation I spent the summer transforming it into the first draft.

How did you publish this book?

I had tried to secure an agent or small press publisher several times over the years to no avail. A couple of years ago I was attempting to finance a movie project – another product of another degree – and realized the economy was turning down fast. So I took the book out of the drawer and decided to try to promote it. In looking around for a publisher I found a local start-up and resonated with the publisher, David Caswell. He published the book, though being small I had unusual influence every step of the way, including the cover design. There is some debate if NCP is a subsidy publisher or as Caswell states, a boutique regional publisher with a learning curve while growing.

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

When I was a wee small child, I sat and held a Golden Book in my hands and knew that one day I would be part of the publishing world – I would make books. Of course I envisioned case bound tomes and not hand-held flat screens. But I saw myself being part of story creation for entertainment and learning.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Looking at writing in a larger sense, I think the hardest part is the promoting or selling your work – which really can seem like your issue or child instead of just a document you created. If you want to speak to just the act of writing – I would say holding your intellectual or judgmental self at bay, and letting your creative sensitive self finish the first draft. Then you can apply the craft when you edit.

How do you do research for your books?

Since it was started in 1999, before the 9/11/01 attacks, and Internet sites were still new, I could get into the Center on Terrorism Research, CIA, State Department, British military sites, and get in-depth information. During a revision a couple of years ago, many of these sources have been closed down or are just PR. The library also had some books then on weapons, opera, books of names and the like. I also interviewed people with special knowledge as well as started my own poll on people’s thoughts on lies and how we deal with them.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I’ve learned about the writing process, and the publishing process and now the promoting process. There have been some profound personal revelations that I’m not committing to words.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a lot of non-fiction – learning how this process works, how to build web sites, use social network marketing, and biographies and New Thought works. For pleasure I’m still reading first books by authors farther into their writing careers, some romance, and suspense when I have time; and film scripts. I just finished Noble Intentions (Katie Macalister) and Murder with Peacocks (Donna Andrews).

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

Books with good story and interesting characters. Favorite authors: I like Jane Austin, Janet Evanovich with Charlotte Hughes, really it is more about their story for me.

Why?

As an acting teacher use to tell us, the purpose of theatre originally was to create a safe laboratory for Man to play ‘what if’ or to teach or communicate social or life laws, and to experience something beyond his day-to-day. Books, movies, are all derivatives of this ancient laboratory.

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

Ideas are flowing, but I haven’t started writing it yet.

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

Advice isn’t really something I’m comfortable with at this time. I will say one writes when the passion to tell a story or viewpoint is so great that it commands one’s focus until released.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Besides the usual Facebook and web site presence, I’ll be appearing on a few panels for fundraising events. I am just at the beginning of the promotion cycle and I hope to be appearing at book signings and media interviews. The second printing will be directed toward a distributor so bookstores will have A Case of Intent in their ordering systems; I’m told this will be late June or July but based on experience with NCP it might be September. Currently readers can only purchase from the publisher, my Amazon store, or from me directly. Once this expands we’ll be turning up the promotion.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

I have a web site, psbarta.com, where we have more information on me, my other projects, and A Case of Intent. The Facebook fan page for “P.S. Barta” is a place readers can discuss the book, ask questions, stay up on the latest appearances and soon, contests.