Barry Lancet interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Jun 24, 2017 3:53:11 PM
Barry Lancet interview with David Alan Binder
Bio from his website: Barry Lancet is the author of the award-winning international suspense series featuring Jim Brodie. The latest entry is The Spy Across the Table (Simon & Schuster), which sends Brodie careening from Washington, D.C. and San Francisco to Japan, South Korea, the DMZ, and the Chinese-North Korean border, in a story that predates recent headlines. In one of the first advance reviews, Publishers' Weekly said that "Lancet keeps the suspense high through the exciting climax."
The previous entry in the series, Pacific Burn, explores the tragic aftermath of the Fukushima quake-tsunami disaster and the real reasons behind the nuclear melt down. Japantown, the first Brodie adventure, won the Barry Award for Best First Novel, was initially optioned by J. J. Abrams, and is now under consideration at other studios. The second volume, Tokyo Kill, was a finalist for a Shamus Award for Best Novel of the Year and declared a must-read by Forbes magazine.
Lancet's connection with overseas travel, foreign lands, and Japan began more than thirty years ago with a short exploratory trip from his California home to Tokyo. Five years later, after visiting numerous other countries, his visit to Japan turned into a long-term stay in the Japanese capital, a thriving metropolis he found endlessly fascinating.
Lancet landed a position at one of the country's top publishing houses, and in twenty-five years he developed numerous books across many fields but mostly on Japanese culture—including art, crafts, cuisine, history, fiction, Zen gardens, martial arts, Asian philosophy, and more. All of which were sold in the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world. The work opened doors to many traditional worlds, lending a unique insider's view to his own writing.
One incident in particular started him on his present course of writing, and led to Japantown and the Jim Brodie series. Early on during his return to Japan, Lancet was directed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to come down to the stationhouse for a "voluntary interview." The MPD proceeded to interrogate him for three hours over what turned out to be a minor, noncriminal infraction.
The police grilling evolved into one of the most intensive psychological battles of cat-and-mouse Lancet had faced up to that point in his stay in Asia, and caused him to view many of his experiences, past and future, in a whole new light. The encounter was also instrumental in shaping Lancet's approach to his novels.
1. Where are you currently living?
Japan—I’m an expat American who has lived in Tokyo for more than twenty-five years, but it’s getting dicey with all the increased saber-rattling by North Korea, territory-grabbing by China, and the tension-filled relationship between the two powers. Eighteen months ago I decided to write about those things and more in THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE, never imagining they would grab U.S. headlines the way they have.
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
If you have the burning need to write, do it, regardless.
Write what you want to write about not “what you know” unless what you know is part of your chosen topic. You’ll always know something of your chosen subject and you can learn or intuit the rest.
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing?
The latest book, THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE. The protagonist, Jim Brodie, is an art dealer and American expert on Asia who this time around delves into secrets of North Korea and China.
4. Do you have any insights about self-publishers verses traditional publishers?
There is a case to be made for both. As a former book editor, I wanted to go with a Big Five publisher for my type of book, but I have advised people on self-publishing, as well as the advantages of small and medium publishers, depending on the book.
The pros and cons have been discussed endlessly online but let me add this one vital, often-overlooked point: if you choose the self-publishing route, get a good editor and a proofreader. There are plenty of good freelancers around. Don’t throw your work out there in an unprofessional manner. It’s your name on the cover.
a. Who is your publisher and in what city are they located?
Simon & Schuster, in New York.
5. Do you have any suggestions or help for new writers? Secret tips?
Plenty. As a writer and former book editor, I get asked questions all the time, so I put up a Writers’ Corner on my website here. There are suggestions for some of the most common stumbling blocks and questions.
6. Do you have any tips for new writers on getting an agent?
I do. “How to Find an Agent” lays down the gauntlet and offers step-by-step guidance. Pay attention to the details and remember this: even lesser-known agents get flooded with queries on a daily basis, so prepare your approach letter carefully.
7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned about your creative process?
You don’t need to know every last thing before you begin writing if you trust yourself and, from the second book, the process.
8. How many books have you written?
Four books to date, the latest being THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE and the first JAPANTOWN, which won the Barry Award for Best First Novel and landed on many “best of” lists. The second, TOKYO KILL, was a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best Mystery of the Year.
9. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Make your protagonist and antagonist smart and you’ll get your twists.
10. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
A fresh story, a new voice, suspense, sharp writing, and depth. That’s what attracts me and that’s what I attempt to write.