Sunday, April 1, 2012




Hello Barry, thank you again for your time and allowing us to interview you. After reading your biography anyone can see you have had quite a busy life. Can you tell us how this has inspired your writing?

Well, I bring my life experiences to my writing. I use real cases as a jumping off point for plot lines. A lot of interesting things have happened to me during my life because I took an active role in events that were happening around me. Paying attention to what’s around you and not getting self-absorbed helps. A lot of my legal work involved dramatic stuff from combat trauma to crimes and serious injuries, both physical and mental. Having real experiences to draw on is way better than trying to imagine how it might be.

I'm sure many people are informed about your books for adults, tell us more about your children's novels and what we can expect from you in the future with that particular genre.

I don’t write children’s novels. Some people call some of my stuff YA, but I think I’m more OA. (old adult)

What was it that first inspired you to write your novels and when did you realize that you had a talent for writing?

I think it’s hubris that tells me I have a talent for writing. I think I do, therefore I do. Sometimes other people agree. That’s gratifying unless I get into a funk and think I’m being patronized. I’ve always liked to write. I was inspired to write my first novel because I thought there was a big void in war stories. What about vets who saw themselves as being ripped off by the whole hype, who felt swindled that they bought into it and then actually did something about it? In All Quiet on the Western Front, we get disillusion leading to resigned suicide, but what if Paul just deserted? What if he blew up Big Bertha? Shot the Kaiser? Would he still be a hero? During World War I, there were lots of guys who just walked away. Where are their stories? I like the idea of the little guy just not going along with the program and getting away with it.

Who are some of your inspirations in the literary world both old and new?

I like Remarque, Dashiell Hammett, Jack London, Dennis Lehane, Dickens, Hemingway, Elmore Leonard and Walter Mosley. As you can see, I’m mostly into male writers, old school. But I really liked what Myla Goldberg did with Wicket’s Remedy. And I do like Jane Gardam’s stuff. I like literature that relates to real events or at least is true to the gritty circumstances of living real lives and can’t stand self-indulgent chitchat. I don’t want to waste my time reading about whether someone is having a difficult relationship, can’t get a date, or whether or not they are really gay. Those things are okay to flesh out characters, but they have to be integrated into a real story for me to go for it. Otherwise, it’s just manipulative.

You have a few books scheduled for release this year, tell us more about them and when we can expect them out.

My next book, Part 2 of a trilogy will be published just as this comes out  April 1, 2012. It’s called A Shot In The Arm and is taken from a) a real case and b) drawn from real events. It’s the story of a Marin County drug treatment program corrupted by a rogue government drugs-for-guns operation. Essentially secret government agents are using the drug treatment program to deal heroin so they can use the profits, off the books, to arm anti-communist guerillas in Southeast Asia. A somewhat na├»ve black militant tries to stop it, but that leads to violence and makes for a mystery thriller that is in the John Le Carre vein. A lot of this stuff really happened.

The third part of the trilogy is called The Fourth Conspirator and it involves the nexus between marijuana growing and the wine industry in Mendocino County. Someone gets murdered trying to rip off a pot garden belonging to the VP of a big winery. Is there a connection between the weed and the wine? Lots of mystery, a few murders and of course, the corruption that goes along with highly profitable, but illegal commerce. Again, the story is an amalgam of real events.

The trilogy is also the story of two young people, Nate and Christina, who grow up through this period of time (the 70s) and who are alternately the heroes and victims of the events portrayed events that are bigger than themselves. My goal is that readers become invested in them, as imperfect as they are, as they struggle against the storms that envelope them. They are compelling and very real characters.

I have two more novels behind these but that’s enough for now.

If you had to choose one of your novels that was your absolute favorite to write which would it be and why?

Right now, my absolute favorite is The Flight of the Sorceress. I spent eight years researching the fifth century A.D. It’s a period that history seems to have completely neglected, although there was a recent movie about Hypatia, who lived during that time and is a major character in my book. It seems more and more relevant every day as pandering politicians try to undermine the separation of church and state. All you have to look at is the history of theocracy in the Roman Empire to know that when you mix a government with a church you get the Dark Ages. There’s no room for dissent or diversity when you put religious zealots in charge of an army. They can’t help themselves. They think God gave them the army so they can force people to believe what they want and that God wants them to kill anyone who disagrees. Flight of the Sorceress is historically accurate and contains a lesson that, unfortunately, we keep having to re-learn. We’ve just put Sorceress on KDP Select so readers can borrow it.

What is your long-term life’s dream where your writing is concerned, and where would you like to see yourself in the next 10 years?

I have survived two stem cell transplants for leukemia. I don’t have any long-term life’s dreams. I am existential and don’t even keep a calendar. Don’t even ask me about ten months, much less ten years.

Which book out of what you've written so far do you think would make the best movie and why?

All my books would make good movies, with the caveat that moviemakers tend to ruin books and any resemblance between what authors write and what ends up on the screen is coincidental. I see my 1970s trilogy as having the best potential as a movie series because it has strong noir aspects, a developing relationship between two compelling but flawed characters and a lot of murder, mystery and politically relevant events. Sorceress is too political for Hollywood. As Jack Nicholson says, “They can’t handle the truth.”

If you could teach someone something by way of your books, what would be the most important lesson you think they could learn?

Live a real life. Take risks. Pay attention and then write with passion. If you think that your relationships are interesting, you’re probably wrong. If you think your parents are at fault, you’ve invented a wheel. We all have wheels. It’s too late to invent that one. If you think that your race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin etc. is enough to make a story, you may get published, and you may get hype. But it only works in the long run if you can integrate it into something really compelling. For example, gender or sexual orientation makes a better story if it’s in the context of a story about bullying or a kind of Matthew Sheppard experience. Put it in the context of what’s going on in society and it can be significant. Put it in the context of a personal, individual experience and it’s a short trip to the remainder table.

One other observation. If you want to write something really important, the road is much more difficult. You’ll get a lot of “sorry, not for me” responses from agents because they only can sell inoffensive junk to the handful of editors they know, who can only buy junk because their publishing houses are little better than fast food mills and they’re too chickenshit to go out on a limb and publish nourishment.

Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors, also please leave us your links where we can find out more about you as well as your works.

I’m just a curmudgeon. You take my advice you end up grumpy. Once you learn how to write, then you need a story to write about. You can learn how to write. But you have to have a story. That’s the really hard part. That requires paying attention.

You can find out more than you could ever possibly want to know about me by looking at my website:

My books all have blogs: , and

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