Exclusive Blog Interview with Australian Author Greg Barron, author of Marika Hartmann Series

Australian Author, Greg Barron is a friend of Read3r’z Re-Vu. I had the pleasure of meeting Greg at his author signing in Dymocks, Parramatta in 2012 when he released his debut novel “Rotten Gods“: a  thrilling book where a new wave of terror threatens a world torn by inequality, conflict, economic disaster and environmental chaos. A time when heads of state gather in Dubai in an attempt to bring society back from the brink of global catastrophe however extremists hijack the conference centre and the clock starts ticking: seven days until certain death for presidents and prime ministers alike, unless the terrorists’ radical demands are met… A page turner that grips you to the end… let’s get to know Greg…

When did you first get inspiration to start writing?
When I was just six years old I wrote, typed up and “self published” a short book about dinosaurs. I was in my twenties when I started writing my first serious novel, but I lost my way after a few chapters. It was a lot harder than I’d expected. Finally, in my early thirties I managed to finish a novel, but it took me another ten years of writing to get a publishing contract. Rotten Gods was the novel that got me there. I’m addicted to stories, and have been ever since I could read.

What inspired you to write your debut novel “Rotten Gods”?
The World Trade Center attacks in New York sparked a series of events that included the invasions of two nations, millions of casualties, and an escalation of “tit for tat” terrorist attacks. I became interested in the motivations of all parties involved. I wanted to write a novel that helped me (and ultimately readers) to understand why various groups and individuals act the way they do. I had also grown up in the “golden age” of international thrillers. I devoured books by authors such as Alistair Maclean, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum. I wanted to write an exciting page turner that would thrill and entertain readers, and take them on a journey through exotic destinations.

Is there any particular reason you chose this genre?
Despite my grounding in classic thrillers, I never set out to write in any particular genre. In fact, I was surprised when HarperCollins picked me up as a thriller author and asked me to write two more books in the same vein. Having said that, I have a natural desire to keep a story moving forward, pages and pages of conversations bore me as a reader so I tend to keep the sequence of events unfolding as a writer. I’m currently working on a historical novel (another genre I’ve always loved), and it’s a page turner.

What was the secret to getting your work done in writing your book – did you constantly snack on chocolate or treat this like a movie with index notes all over your wall? Or have a photo of an inspirational person as your desktop?
There was no secret except for getting in the routine of writing every day. Even if it’s just half an hour before heading out for a day job, daily writing is a very powerful thing. I used to obsess about my daily word count, but now I do my best to ignore it. I know instinctively when I’ve done enough for the day, close the computer and walk away. Sometimes I pin inspirational quotes to my wall, usually by writers and other creators, but they eventually get covered up by maps or other items that I might happen to need as background.

Tell us about your main characters in the books – how did you come up with their names and personality profile for the story?
The interesting thing about Marika, the main character in Rotten Gods is that I originally called her Raelene. My agent laughed, and told me that it was a bogan Aussie name, so I had to change it. I’m not sure exactly where the name Marika Hartmann came from, but after the novel was published I came across a real life person with the same name online. We met up when I went to Perth and now we’re great mates! In my current work in progress, which I’m hoping will be published late next year, many of the characters lived in real life. When my research was finished, and I’d found out everything I could about their lives, my fiction brain kicked in and started filling in the blanks. I’ve found it to be a really exciting process. I rarely write formal character profiles, just scrawl notes here and there when I think of them, either with paper and pen or on my phone. I use One Note for quick observations and even used it to structure my last novel.

Did you ever experience writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
Writer’s block is a crisis of confidence, when nothing you write seems to have any worth. There’s only one solution, and that’s to keep on writing through it. I’ve been in this situation more than once, but I usually know why it’s happening. Bad rejections can bring it on. I force myself to sit and write. Sooner or later, as Hemingway once said, “the juices will flow.”

Are there any particular issues or themes you have addressed in your books that you are hoping readers will really get out of the story?
I’m careful not to talk down to my readers or assume they know less than I do. People usually have had a much more interesting and informative life than strangers give them credit for. Many readers have said to me that they loved Rotten Gods not just for the story, but because they learned a lot. My answer to that is “So did I.” My research took me across the world and immersed me in dozens of non-fiction books, hundreds of video clips and articles.

I’m a blogger – if I was to read your book then blog it, what do you look for in a blog? What makes a good blog (besides a stunning review of course)
The most exciting thing about a book blog is when the blogger truly connected with a book, then explains how and why. Dry, boring reviews are for the newspaper critics, bloggers have the opportunity to present a personal point of view.

Let’s get to know you:
What’s the first book you ever read?
I clearly remember the first time I ever finished a book with real chapters. I was about seven years old and the novel was called “Double Trouble for Rupert.” It was the dawning of a new age for me. Within weeks I was devouring Hardy Boys detective stories and Enid Blyton’s adventure stories. I was privileged to find an open door to this amazing world of fiction and I’ve been living there ever since.

If you’re not reading or writing, what would you be doing?
Well I do love fishing, and try to get out to sea in my small boat every weekend. I go with my father and I feel very privileged to have this special time with him. Of course the weather and family commitments get in the way so I don’t get out as regularly as I’d like. I enjoy walking, and fit in a half hour stroll in the local bush every day. The rest of the time you’ll find me washing dishes, mowing the lawn, going to barbecues at friends’ houses. I also work part time as a librarian, and teach computers and music.

What was the last book you read? (title/genre/author/rating out of 5 stars)
I’m ten pages from the end of Devour by LA Larkin. It’s a thriller and I’ll give it 4 out of 5 as it’s brilliantly researched, well written, with complete characters and is a lot of fun to read. The plot is a bit improbable right from the start but I’m prepared to accept that in return for a good read.

As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Never, ever, ever give up.

Please feel free to connect with me so I can share upcoming news:
Twitter: @gjbarronbooks
Facebook: facebook/gregbarronauthor
Instagram: gjbarronbooks
Web: gregbarron.com

Marika Hartmann Series
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Many thanks to Greg Barron for your time and for supporting Read3r’z Re-Vu.
Blog Interview completed by Annie

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