Our guest today is a man whose books take the reader on a thrilling ride. He’s been published since 2012. His latest release has just hit bookstore shelves with the ebook to follow shortly. His impressive life resume includes academic qualifications in Education and Aquatic Science, and Global Terrorism through St Andrew’s University, Scotland. He’s had interesting and varied jobs such as a librarian, a music teacher, a primary producer, an educator in remote Indigenous communities, and playing the guitar semi professionally.
Thanks for joining us, Greg. I’ll start with a question you may have been asked before. Did you have another job before you were an author?
Like many writers, I’ve tried lots of occupations but never found anything that consumed me like writing does. I’ve been a teacher, an adult educator on a remote Indigenous community, a semi-pro guitarist, a primary producer, a small business owner and a consultant.
Have you always loved writing?
I loved reading first, and I still do. Reading is the fuel that drives the engine. I want to make people feel like great writers make me feel.
Do you have a ritual before you write, as in, you have to be on your third cup of coffee and the sun is slanting in the window just right?
I do like to have breakfast over and cleaned up and all those little morning chores done. On a good day I’m into it at seven-thirty and I’ll write until I’ve got at least two-thousand words. When I can smell the end of a book, I’ll start earlier and write all day, finishing in a mad sprint.
When I’m editing a book, a process that usually takes me up to a year before a professional editor even sees it, I might put in from six to ten hours a day.
(Wow, that’s intense).
I’m talking about ideal writing days of course. I too have all kinds of family and professional commitments that keep me from the keyboard. I also have to do some other work to help keep the family fed. That said, however, I guard my writing time (mornings particularly) jealously, and I try to keep them free as much as possible.
How do you find juggling social media commitments and writing time?
Social media can be an immense distraction, but I find that when the book is going well it’s not such a problem. The trouble occurs on those “lost” days, when I’m not sure of where to go next and I find that checking Facebook and Twitter constantly is just too tempting. Before you know it, hours can be wasted.
I’ve set up an old laptop with no internet for these days, and I use it up in a loft over a shed I set up. Then, of course, I find myself staring blankly at the scenery, but at least my mind is free of the clutter of social media.
Having said all that, social media is an incredible boost for writers, and we all need to use it. There are days towards the launch of my books when I give myself permission to work at my online marketing all day, and leave the next manuscript until the next day. The main trick, generally, is just to post, respond to queries, interact a bit, then leave it alone. Easier said than done.
(And don’t I know it lol).
Does your publisher give you tough deadlines or are you allowed to go at your own pace?
Publishing is all about deadlines, so yes, absolutely. Producing a deeply researched 100K plus manuscript (Savage Tide was 147K) every year is hard on everyone. First draft deadlines are due in up to a year before publication date. You can be a little bit late, but not much.
What do you love most about being an author?
Touching people in a way I have been touched by other authors. People have written to me to say that my books have changed the way they see the world, and even provoked life-changing positive decisions. That’s more precious than gold, and I’m forever grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do this.
Can you remember the moment you decided to pursue a writing career, and what was the defining thing/realisation that made you take that leap?
Oh yes. I had tried and failed a few times to finish writing a book, but when I was thirty-four years old I was running a business I hated and couldn’t see a way out. I decided that it was time, and I wrote my first novel in that office. Twelve years of writing almost every day would then pass before my first novel was published by HarperCollins. If you want to read the story of my path to publication you can find it here: http://gregbarron.com/resources/my-writing-journey/
Which authors/books have influenced you most over the years?
Leon Uris, Anne Tyler, James Michener, Wilbur Smith, Rosemary Sutcliff, Peter Carey, John Steinbeck, Jack Higgins, Colleen McCullogh, Ion Idriess, James Clavell, Stephen King, Gary Jennings and Larry McMurtry.
Some authors say they get great ideas when they’re walking, or in the shower, or falling asleep. Where/when do you find most of your ideas happen?
Walking is a fertile time for me. Wandering along, letting random thoughts play through your head allows your mind to make those strange little connections that are gold for a writer.
How much time do you spend researching for your novels? And have you ever had any readers get upset over something they thought wasn’t portrayed exactly right?
I spend an enormous amount of time travelling international locations, interviewing people and researching in books and online. That is part and parcel of the type of books I’ve been writing.
I’ve only had a couple of angry emails. One was from a Scot who was furious at me for calling the SAS, the “English SAS” when apparently it was founded by a Scotsman. I also got an email from famous Australian chef Peter Doyle who told me that an American President would NEVER kneel for a terrorist like he does in Rotten Gods. Not even with a gun to his head. I think it’s great that people can interact in this way.
You write thrillers, and have had a lot of success with them, but have you any plans for writing in a different genre?
I will always write page turners because that is what I love to read. Having said that, I’m interested in growing the scope and potential readership of my books from the thriller genre into mainstream fiction. I think my books have always had that element, but I plan to work on it.
Your latest release, Lethal Sky, is launching in the coming weeks, how long is the process from starting the book to waving it out the door to meet the public?
I started the first draft of Lethal Sky in May 2012, but worked on edits and drafts of other books in between. So the whole process took over two years, but wasn’t my sole preoccupation during that time.
Because I tend to use only a fairly sketchy outline, varying from two to ten pages, I often find myself writing false starts that need to be deleted or substantially changed later, then new sections rewritten. That’s one of the reasons the rewriting process takes me so long.
Can you tell us about your main character, Marika? And why did you choose to have a female protagonist?
Ha. I didn’t choose Marika. She chose me. And when a chick with a gun and unarmed combat skills starts bossing you around you’d better listen to her.
Seriously, I’ve known girls like Marika. As capable as any man, articulate and outdoorsy, but with a deep moral core. She wants to save the world and I just love her to death.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Greg, and let’s hope Marika achieves her commendable goal ;). Readers, if you want updates on Greg or his books you can follow Greg on Twitter @gregorybarron or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GregBarronAuthor and visit is website. Of course, if you enjoy thrillers, you can also grab his awesome books. Click on the book covers to visit Amazon.Read previous articleRead next article