Barry Reese is known primarily for his pulp adventure novels and short stories but he has also done work for Marvel Comics and West End Games. By day he is a Library Director in Georgia, but by night his fingers fly across the keys. This year he won the 2013 Best Novel in the Pulp Ark Awards.
Interview with Author Barry Reese author of The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One 4/11/2013
Lisa M. Collins: Barry it’s great to have you on the blog this week. I just have to say that my favorite Barry Reese story is in Pro Se Productions’ The New Adventures of Thunder Jim Wade (Volume 1). The Hellmouth sucked me right in and I was hooked! Thunder Jim Wade is a great character that takes me back to a time when heroes were strong and courageous, and not all emo and indifferent. But you write all kinds of characters so, I was wondering where you get your story ideas?
Barry Reese: Anywhere and everywhere! Seriously, I get ideas while watching movies, reading a book or checking the news. I’ve never had a lack of ideas. Time, on the other hand, can sometimes be elusive!
Lisa M. Collins: What is the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Barry Reese: I’m a pantser. The more prep work I do before starting writing, the less I’m going to enjoy the process. It becomes more ‘work’ and less ‘fun’ for me. Having said that, sometimes I work on licensed properties and they demand a full plot to be approved beforehand, so I can work both ways… but I much prefer to have a general idea in my head and work out how I get there over the course of the story. Usually, I have the opening in my head, a few key moments I want to hit and the general resolution (though sometimes this is vague)… then I get to work. I revise as I go.
Lisa M. Collins: Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
Barry Reese: I just start writing most of the time. If a key element of the plot deals with something that’s unfamiliar, I’ll read up on it first. When I wrote my novel Die Glocke, I read a couple of books dealing with the Nazi investigation into what became known as Die Glocke in conspiracy circles, then I decided what info I wanted to tweak for fictional purposes – then I was off and writing!
Lisa M. Collins: What is your daily writing like?
Barry Reese: During the week, I squeeze in writing first thing in the morning, during work breaks at my real job, on lunch hours and in the evenings. I often take the weekend off from writing and just focus on plotting in my head or doing research. I try to some every day during the week, even if it’s only a few hundred words.
Lisa M. Collins: Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision. If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
Barry Reese: I am not a full time writer in the sense that I live off my earnings. They supplement my day job. I’d love to be a full time writer but economically, that’s not an easy thing to do.
Lisa M. Collins: Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher? (Any other publishers?) (And/Or your self-publishing experiences?)
Barry Reese: It really is different with each one. Most of my current work comes out from Pro Se Press and I have a lot of freedom there. I pretty much can do any project that springs to mind with no restrictions from them. But that’s really unusual. When I do work for Moonstone, it’s generally on licensed characters like The Green Hornet and they have many restrictions and require several rewrites. Back when I was working for Marvel Comics, they were very nitpicky about making sure things were exactly as they wanted them to be. In general, I understand that – when I do work-for-hire, it’s not mine… it’s theirs. So they should have the final word. With my own work, I enjoy having the freedom to kill off characters, change settings, etc. and with Pro Se, I have the freedom to do that.
Lisa M. Collins: What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
Barry Reese: My newest book came out earlier this week – The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One. It’s set in 1937 and is the story of a young woman who has turned to a life of crime. She breaks into the wrong house one night and is killed by the homeowner… only to awaken in a coffin, with a mysterious voice offering her a choice: become its servant, dispatching cruel justice upon those who deserve it, and it will restore her to life. But there’s a catch: the deal is only good for three years. If at the end of that time, she hasn’t been able to redeem her soul, she’ll be dragged down to Hell. It’s a pulp adventure story with some heavy overtones.
It’s set in the same universe as my Lazarus Gray and The Rook series but you don’t have to read any of that to enjoy it.
Lisa M. Collins: Can you tell us about some of your other writing and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
Barry Reese: I had a pretty busy year last year, in terms of appearances, so I’m taking it slow in 2013. I’ll be at Avalon Comics in Macon, Georgia on May 4 for Free Comic Book Day, at the Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon during the first weekend in October and then I’ll be part of the Georgia Literary Festival in Milledgeville on November 9.
Lisa M. Collins: As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
Barry Reese: Network. You honestly never know who will help you later on – and do the same for others! Get out there and meet people, let them know who you are and befriend them. All the other stuff – how to write, how to plot, etc., you can learn from practice. But it does help to have friends in the industry. Get on Facebook, on Twitter, etc. and meet people.
Lisa M. Collins: Who is your favorite author, and can you recommend a book by that author?
Barry Reese: Just one author?! You’re a cruel person! I guess I’d go with Walter Gibson, who wrote The Shadow. I’d recommend that you start with the very first Shadow novel – The Living Shadow. A classic and it really shows off Gibson’s style.
Lisa M. Collins: Thank you Barry!
If you would like more information about Barry Reese you can find his books on Amazon, and updates about his writing on Twitter, Facebook and on his website.