Today’s author spotlight features Richard Whitten Barnes
I am a retired Marketing/Sales exec who, after a stint at volunteering, woodworking, and other pursuits, took a class in short story writing and found the passion of my life.
I grew up in Chicago, but found myself at Michigan State University where I met my wife. We share a love for the Island of St. Joseph in northern Ontario. Four of my eight novels have all or a part of their plots set there.
I go back and forth between Historical and Mystery. Both have their advantages and drawbacks for me.
Historicals are rewarding in that the writer learns so much in the process, however the research better be perfect, or there will be a host of experts ready to pounce.
Mysteries are fun, but writing one with a plot that hasn’t been overdone, and finding a clever twist is not easy.
In either genre I detest a book that just ends without satisfying moment.
Tell us about your latest novel
My new historical novel, ENEMIES, was inspired by the fact that my father, and my wife’s father fought on opposite sides of the First World War; mine with the American Expeditionary Force, and my wife’s with the German Imperial Army. Although they never fought in the same battle, I wondered what it would be like if they did.
In ENEMIES, two boys, one from Canada (St. Joseph Island in his case) and one from a little village in Germany enter the war at the same time. Their lives become involvedin an unexpected way, and the entanglement is not sorted out until fifty years later.
While it is a war story, I have tried to make it a read that will hold the interest of more than just the war buffs. My editor (a savvy lady) said she cried at the ending. High praise from this taskmaster.
Traditional, Small Press, or Self-publish? Why?
My publisher is Wings ePress, Inc. a small press that has been the home of some really good writing, in my opinion.
Certainly, who among us writers would not love to be taken up by one of the big publishing houses, but one must earn their stripes.
These days there is less stigma attached to the term “self-published.” Still I have had a happy relationship with Wings and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. That way I expect to get my books represented by a wider array of booksellers.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Historical: David McCullough, author of Truman, John Adams, 1776, and so many others. His writing is intelligent, descriptive and wry.
Mysteries: Elroy Leonard (although our styles are not similar), Phillip Craig (The Martha’s Vineyard series), early James Patterson, Robert Parker (of course).
What makes a bad book? List a few you couldn’t finish.
What a good Question!
Well, I’m not going to mention names of aspiring writers, although I’ve read some stinkers.
I will say, we have all read some terrible stuff. For my money a book has to be intelligently written, believable, and carry the reader along. John Le Carre is an example of a writer who has two of the three ingredients, but not the last. I slogged through THE CONSTANT GARDENER last summer only to come to the end of the book where it seemed he just stopped writing. A real letdown. But who am I to criticize that giant of literature?
Some writers never seem to get the feel of believable dialogue. I have read books by authors who have a good plot, only to be spoiled by stilted language.
What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most (or the least)?
By far the worst part of writing is being between projects with no clear idea of what I want to do next. The reason being: I love writing so much and feel so fulfilled by the process, that without something to work on, I am miserable.
I love the research. Make no mistake, research is as important in mystery writing as it is in historical.
I enjoy the very act of writing longhand in my notebooks, then transferring the words to my computer and seeing it in print for the first time, making edits along the way.
How do you deal with rejection?
Before I signed my first contract with Wings I must have written to more than a hundred publishers, and as many agents. I think I still have the lists filed somewhere.
How did I deal with it? Not well, I guess, but people whose literary opinion I respected gave me encouragement to persevere, and I kept on writing. By the time of my first contract, I’d written three books.
What type of books do your read for fun?
Mystery and Historical, mostly. Half for fun, but also to get a feel for how I stack up against writers more successful than myself.
How can our readers find you?