Richard Barnes interview by David Alan Binder about his eighth book Enemies

Post date: Jan 12, 2016 2:03:27 PM

Author Richard Barnes interview by David Alan Binder about his eighth book Enemies

Richard Barnes Website:

His Blog:


His Facebook:

ENEMIES Video Trailer:

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1. Where are you currently living?

I live (most of the year) in a suburb of Charlotte NC, Lake Wylie, SC. I can hit the state line with a driver and 4 iron.

For three months I and my family spend three months of the year at our cottage in northern Ontario where I get a lot of writing done, and also have a nice local following, and opportunity to sell my wares.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I retired, and did the usual volunteering / woodworking stuff but decided to take some college courses. One was a Short Story Writing course, and I was hooked. I wrote a half dozen short stories, and got involved with a writing group who convinced me to turn one of my stories into a book. A Book! I can’t write a book! But I did, and ultimately got it published.

3. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I have been averaging about one per year since 2009.

4. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I’d like to tell you I am disciplined, and get up at 5AM to write in my sequestered study like a real professional. Truth is – I write whenever the craziness of life allows me the opportunity. With all the kids grown and out of the house, you’d think that would be a lot, but life keeps competing for my time. (My wife thinks I write all the time.)

5. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like the tactile process of writing in long-hand. I keep a journal not for jewels of wisdom for someone to read after I’m long gone, but for the enjoyment of writing anything.

So when I am working on a manuscript I do it in a spiral notebook in pencil with a good eraser. After 500 to 1000 words, I’ll transcribe it into my computer. That affords me another look at the words to see if they are something I’m at least not ashamed of. I try not to edit too much in the notebook, making sure I keep the flow going.

6. Did you self-publish or have a publisher?

I am published by and Indie; Wings Press, Inc. currently in Richmond KY., but that address may soon change.

I do have one book The Faircloth Reaction, published with Amazon. It was edited by iUniverse, however.

7. Do you have any feelings about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Wow! Who doesn’t want to be represented by a Scribner or Random House? The indies can’t afford you the marketing and distribution the big houses do. We all hope to be “discovered” and get picked up by some big house.

You asked about feelings:

It is so discouraging to read a book published by one of the giants that you feel is written poorly, or at least, worse than your own output. I have read some great writing by unknowns and some horrible stuff from “successful” authors.

8. Do you have any tips for writers on getting a book published?

The only way I know is to keep submitting your queries. Don’t give up. I must have written a hundred queries before I got picked up by Wings.

9. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

A very timely question, in that I am at present struggling with that very problem. My last historical novel, Enemies, was published in December of last year, and I am in the midst of trying to promote it. At the same time, I’m working on the idea for a new mystery. In this case, I got out my trusty pencil and wrote down all the possible motives for foul play I could think of: money, sex, jealousy, envy, greed, chauvinism, religion… the idea for a plot began to materialize.

10. Any tips for writers that you may have?

No. I wouldn’t presume.

11. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

During the winter, I don’t do much else than write. Yes, I try to have a book to read handy on my Kindle, but I’m not a voracious reader. I try to keep my mind sharp with crosswords.

In the summer, my first love is sailing. I don’t sail competitively, but get out there whenever I can.

12. What does your family think of your writing?

My wife is my first editor. You can be sure if she spots something she thinks is stupid, she’ll let me know. She says she thinks the writing is good, though, and I believe she’s sincere. As for my three kids and their spouses: Who know? Friends and family will rarely tell you that you stink.

13. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Easy. I learned that I could write as well as a lot of popular writers. I’m critical of myself; have done a little acting and can tell you I am fortunate to have kept my day job! So, I know when I’m bad. Re-reading my older books is often a delightful surprise that I had the chops to express a particular thought

Of course, when I do research for historical fiction, amazing facts pop up all the time. That is exciting, and a big reason why I love the genre.

14. How many books have you written?

Enemies was my eighth.

15. Which is your favorite?

Could not possibly say. They are all so different.

16. Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?

Not really. I think writing must be a lot like being a musician. Some people have it, others don’t. You can improve through a lot of practice, but if you don’t have the ear, it’s not likely to happen.

17. Do you hear from your readers much?

Never enough, but I have been pleased with the comments I do get. I sell a lot of my books at art fairs, etc. in the summer. I get repeat readers who are very complimentary. One complement is worth the price of five books.

18. How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

So different for each of my eight.

The last book, Enemies, is an historical novel set in WWI. It’s about two young boys who enlist; one to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the other to the German Imperial Army.

Both my and my wife’s fathers served in WWI. Mine was in the American (AEF) and my father-in-law was in the German 238th Division.

That was my involvement.

19. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

I love history. I loved reading Jeff Shaara’s semi-fictional histories of WWII. I also think my forte is writing believable dialogue, and Mysteries are a good vehicle for that.

20. If you write more than one field or genre, how do you balance them?

Lately, I’ve been alternating back and forth. This time I almost wrote another historical novel, but thought my idea for the mystery was better.

21. How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

(From my Bio) I’m a native Chicagoan, graduating as a chemist from Michigan State University. I’m now retired from a career in international chemical sales and marketing, which has taken me all over the world. Ima veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and an avid sailor, living in Lake Wylie, S.C., but spend summers with my wife Marg and dog Sparty at our cottage on St. Joseph Island, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron. Writing came to me late in life, but I figure on another twenty years of it to look forward to.

22. Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?

David McCullough; again, Jeff Shaara, Robert Parker (Spencer series), Phillip Craig (Martha’s Vineyard series).

23. Are you a full-time or part-time writer?

Somewhere in between. (Eight books in seven years)

24. How does that affect your writing?

The more you write the better you get.

25. What are some day jobs that you have held?

Chemical Marketing

26. Did any of them impact your writing?

By all means (Faircloth Reaction, Brink). Writing is a distillation of our experiences.

27. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Well to start, the Enemies cover is simply beautiful, thanks to my artist Trish Fitzgerald.

Then, the dedication page is intriguing by itself.

I trust by the time the reader gets past Chapter 1, he/she will be hooked.

28. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I am not the most proficient in this regard.

I try to do a lot of interviews (smiley face), Facebook, Twitter, newspaper write-ups (two for this past book), book signings.

29. What do you like to read in your free time?

My own genres, mostly. Just finished Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.

Am currently reading Unforeseen by Nick Pirog (some really good writing).

30. What projects are you working on at the present?

My new mystery, mentioned above about a Cult gone wrong. (Don’t they all?)

31. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing) and why?

I would have started writing when I was in my twenties, and when the world of publishing was one were getting an agent wasn’t nigh on to impossible.

I pains me to think of my years spent doing things other than writing fiction.