Name Greg Barth
Where are you from
I am from a small town in Southwest Virginia named Swords Creek. I’ve lived in the Appalachian area most of my life – Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Kentucky, etc. I was educated at East Tennessee State University. My family and I currently live in Bowling Green, KY.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My next book, Everglade, is scheduled to be released by All Due Respect Books on July 1st. This will be the fifth and final book in the Selena series. I’m currently at work on my next novel, which will be a western of sorts and is currently going by the working title The Bloodletting.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
As a kid, I don’t know, maybe 6 or 7 years old, I would fold paper up and make a small booklet where you could turn the pages. I’d draw pictures and write short lines to go with each page. Later, I wrote my first short story in high school, my senior year. That one was a horror story and was published in a high school paper. I wrote press releases for the publications department when I was in college and wrote copy for the college paper. During those college years I also submitted numerous short stories to various publications for rejection. After college, I settled down to work my career and didn’t return to writing anything until my late thirties. I was 40 years old when I first published. Not sure why I began writing, other than the fact that I’ve always been a reader and lover of stories in almost any medium.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was first professionally published. Signing the contract and getting my first royalty check made it all seem real.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When I wrote Selena, I was researching gender roles in horror movies, thinking I’d write something in the horror genre. I read Carol Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaws, and I was inspired by her treatment of the Rape and Revenge genre. I sat down to write a short story about this woman, Selena, and about how an act of petty theft on her part placed her in the crosshairs of a local crime syndicate, how they beat her, and how she dealt with the aftermath of that violence. As it turned out, I heard her voice loud and clear, and I wound up writing a five-book series about her. What was to be a short story turned out to be a 1,500 page saga.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style is very simple. I just try to describe what I am seeing in my head. I use first person POV quite a bit. It’s the most natural for me. From a style perspective, I’ve tried to emulate what Richard Stark, Ed McBain, and Ernest Hemingway did, which I think of as the short, declarative style of journalists.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I put a lot of thought in titles. Some of them are significant and echo what happens in the novel in a way that isn’t immediately apparent until you are well into the book. Some examples would be Diesel Therapy, Suicide Lounge, and Everglade. Other titles are more straightforward like Selena and Road Carnage.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. On the surface, the message from Selena’s perspective feels like “violence is the answer,” but that’s not a message I want to put out there. If there is one, maybe it’s about individual resilience – the ability to get back up and deal with things after life has knocked you down.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Almost not at all. Many of the locations are based on places I’ve been, things I’ve seen. The characters, their personalities, etc. are almost entirely fictional. Most of their appearances are based on celebrities that I think of when writing them. I don’t write about good people, so I’m glad that I don’t know people like these. Anything based on reality is exaggerated to the extreme.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Everything by Richard Stark. He is the strongest influence one what I write today. His character, Parker, is amoral. Stark writes with a lean, sparse style, very straightforward. I try to do that myself, and my characters are not people you would want to spend much time with.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A good many. Chris Rhatigan is a genius. I love everything Mike Monson has written. I wish those guys would write more. What strikes me about their work is how their characters make the wrong choices and things get worse and worse for them until disaster strikes. Sarah M. Chen is one to watch for very similar reasons. Rob Pierce writes fantastic, unpredictable, literary crime fiction that leaves you feeling punched in the gut for a few days after finishing. I really like that about his work – he has been on a role the past couple of years, and he’s no lightweight. Daniel Vlasaty has written a couple of short novels that are violent, gritty, and capture the city of Chicago in fresh ways. He’s an immediate must-read who is at the top of my To Be Read pile the minute his books hit the market. I could go on all day. Marietta Miles. Chris Roy. I could go on all day. Tony Knighton writes fantastic crime fiction from Pittsburgh – definitely check him out.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Mike Monson from All Due Respect Books was encouraging and supportive. He contacted me about my work and their interest in publishing the Selena novels. Pam Stack from the Authors on the Air Global Network has been fantastic. So there’s two entities, but I don’t believe in living by rules.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely not. It’s a craft. A hobby. I don’t write that often except for turning ideas over in my head. My grandparents made quilts as a craft and hobby. They were beautiful works of art in many cases. They enjoyed making them, they enjoyed giving them away, and occasionally they’d even sell one. Writing is like that for me. My career is my day job which I’ve been at for 20 years. That’s what puts bread on the table and affords me the opportunity to write something when I want to.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably. I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday, so I see small things here and there that I would change. But the thing I like about publishing is, it draws a line under the book, and you are finished with that one. Once it’s out, the writing is done. Time to move on to the next and make it better. Best not to look back.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Probably in high school. I read a lot of Stephen King, and he was an idol to me. I enjoyed his work so much at that age I wanted to be like him. Some kids gravitate to sports heroes or bands they like and want to emulate. For me it was King.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Everglade picks up Selena’s story 18 months after the close of Road Carnage. She’s not in a good place. Her self-destructive habits are taking their toll on her physically. She wants to make significant changes in her life, but there are strong forces aligned against her. It’s the final book in the series, and the question is, will her enemies do her in, or will her worst enemy of all – herself – take them all down? Maybe she walks away somehow? We’ll know in July.
The Bloodletting is the novel I am currently writing. I cannot tell you just how energizing this book is to work on. It takes place during the border war between Missouri and Kansas in the days leading up to the American Civil War. It’s a bloody, brutal romp through desolate fields punctuated with lone, blackened chimneys with some of the very best characters I’ve dealt with yet. And – if you know me – when I say “best” I really mean worst. Westerns aren’t big these days, so I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it when finished; but it’s been a blast to work on.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Getting the words right. Capturing what’s in my head in with the fewest unnecessary words. Fortunately I have a couple of damned good editors that I’ve learned much from.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I’ve not had to yet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The first three Selena covers (Selena, Diesel Therapy, and Suicide Lounge) were designed by Dyer Wilk. The fourth (Road Carnage) was by J. T. Lindroos.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Road Carnage was the hardest to write. There was a level of nastiness that I didn’t want to get into. I’m reluctant to write explicit, violent scenes for the soul purpose of entertainment. I want the reader to be shocked, horrified – pretty much anything except enjoying what is happening. The story demanded the degrading violence, and I couldn’t make it work any other way. So I was very careful in how I portrayed things on the page. If I was successful, then I’ve merely pushed the envelope beyond what readers encountered in the earlier books. If not, then I run the risk of losing readers. We’ll see how many show up for Everglade.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve learned that billions of people aren’t going to buy it, and that Quentin Tarantino won’t be calling anytime soon. That being said, I’ve also learned that there’s an appetite for good old fashioned R-rated adult entertainment out there. I suspected as much based on the success of shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Emily Blunt would make a great Selena.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read everything you can get your hands on. Spend the time writing and learning the craft. Look to the screenwriters to teach you how to build a story; they are the masters at this. I learned storycraft from Blake Snyder’s book Save the Cat. Get a good day job, one that takes care of your financial needs and your needs to be successful. Get the best day job you can find. You’re going to need it. After that, have fun. If you get to the point where you can write and earn enough from that to provide a comfortable living, then I’ll be seeing you for advice.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! I’ve gotten to know many through social media, and it’s always a thrill to hear that someone paid money, took the time to read, and enjoyed something I wrote. They were a blast to write. Also, please don’t hate me for the things that happen in Everglade.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading Larry Wood’s Bushwacker Belles: The Sisters, Wives, and Girlfriends of the Missouri Guerillas.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Seems like it may have been one of the Pippi Longstocking books. I remember a kid was bitten by a shark. Now that I think about it, this may explain my tendency to write bloody stories featuring female protagonists.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
It takes a lot to make me cry, so I won’t go into that. I generally laugh at inappropriate things. I’ve rewatched Pulp Fiction maybe 15 times, and I laugh quite a bit during certain scenes with Samuel L. Jackson. That guy is fantastic.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
That’s a tough one. There are so many. Today I’d go with Martin Scorsese. I have a lot of questions about how he does what he does with the camera, the long shots he sets up, the amount of activity in the background, etc.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
A long dash between the two dates, because I enjoy life and the people I love.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I read quite a bit and watch a lot of movies. Music is important to me. I have a guitar; one day I want to play it. I’d love to learn to draw and paint. Maybe when I retire.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
TV is where it’s at right now. I love Game of Thrones (the TV show – not sure the books are even relevant anymore). I also enjoy Ray Donovan, The Leftovers, Better Call Saul, some other things like that. When it comes to movies, I generally stick to crime fiction, westerns, and the occasional blockbuster.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
When it comes to food, I prefer Italian, Mexican, and Asian cuisine. I like all of the colors in the big box of crayons (the one with the sharpener built into the back). Music is important to me. I spend a lot of time in the car commuting daily. Music inspires me, and I do a lot of writing in my head. Currently I am listening to Mudcrutch. I also like Dead Sara, L7, Joan Jett, The Pretty Reckless, and Betty Blowtorch. Many others, but those are my go-to bands.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
A lot of hiking.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
No and no. But you can out more about me and my books at https://www.amazon.com/Greg-Barth/e/B008DMR1IG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1493216548&sr=8-1