by John Dwaine McKenna
Our interview today is with Casey Barrett, whose second Duck Darley mystery-thriller is reviewed in MBR number 361. And I’d like to say right up front, that as a long-time fan of Ken Bruen and his Jack Taylor series, it’s great to find a brand new character with similar proclivities and tendencies and failings, but still possessing the dead-on sense of right and wrong coupled with the will to get ‘er done, no matter what the chances are for success. So hello Casey, welcome to Mysterious Book Report, and just like that, here’s your first question . . .
Why do you write?
To keep from going insane. To make sense of things. Because I have no choice in the matter. It’s a physical need.
Where do you write?
When at home, seated next to my bookshelves. Though, my favorite places to write tend to be empty bistros in the city, in the late afternoon, after lunch hour and before dinner service. Ideally, with the only conversation being in a language other than English, sipping much coffee and sparkling water . . .
What do you write about?
Crime fiction, I write what I most like to read, and I love nothing more than a good crime novel.
Are any of your characters autobiographical?
Given the amount of drugs, booze, violence, and sex that goes on in my books, I will neither confirm nor deny any character being autobiographical!
Good answer . . . smart too!
When do you write? Early mornings and late afternoons.
Ideal writing times are from 5:30a-7:30a and / or 3p – 5p. On a Macbook Air.
Who’s your favorite literary character?
Who’s your favorite author?
Ken Bruen, Ross MacDonald, John D. MacDonald, Hunter Thompson…
Do you plot-outline or wing it?
Seat-of-the-pants. Outlining takes the fun out of it for me.
Do you read your reviews?
How do you deal with a negative review?
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
To write. And read. Both in abundance.
What makes a character compelling?
Lack of empathy.
Do you use humor in your work?
Of the dark sort, yes.
What method do you use to keep track of plot details?
Since I don’t outline, it means a lot of rewriting… I also use the Notes app on my iPhone pretty obsessively, constantly jotting down reminders or plot points, so I don’t forget.
Where do you get most, some, or any your story ideas from?
Anywhere and everywhere. The New York Post is always dependable for good, sordid inspiration…
Do you belong to a writers group?
Do you use long, detailed and in-depth descriptions of your characters and their environs?
No. It tends to happen more organically. (Back to the outlining vs. seat-of-pants question again…) I want to be surprised by my characters as much as a reader should be.
Does your style make use of adjectives and adverbs?
I loath adverbs. Though sometimes they’re unavoidable . . . Adjectives, sure, but less is more.
What type of scene is most difficult for you to write?
Violence. Particularly anything with guns.
Are you more comfortable writing in the first, or third person POV?
1st person . . . Though, I’m hoping to shift to third person limited in future books . . .
How did your book first get published?
Through much madness and rejection… More specifically – I went the ‘traditional’ route. I found an agent (after both rejection and being ignored), who would not officially agree to be my agent until I rewrote my first book at least six times. (It would have been more annoying if his instincts weren’t always spot-on…) Then, he sent it out to editors. It was rejected, I believe, 22 times before Kensington Books offered me a 3-book deal in November 2015.
Do you have any other comments, suggestions, tips, anecdotes, quotes or inspirational material you’d like to share?
Where could you be reached on the World Wide Web?
Thx again for your insights and expertise, and for taking time out to speak with our audience today. Please keep us in your contacts list and let the MBR know about your next literary project.