This month features an Interview with Keith Barton.
Interview with Keith Barton
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: James Deaver, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Stuart Woods, Robin Cook, James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, Greg Rucka, Tess Gerritsen for fiction; John Dean, Bill O’Reilly, Dave Barry, Tim Russett, Ron Suskind for non-fiction.
Q: The Protocol was published in China. How did that come about?
A: My agent, Barbara Harris’ son goes to school in China. My novel, TheProtocol, was part of a 5-book deal with Harris Literary Agency and China. The Chinese are interested in anything American and especially enjoy suspense thrillers, involving espionage, terrorists, and good vs. Evil. With the recent trade agreement with China, you will see a lot more exporting of American art forms to 3 billion people.
Q: Were there any changes you had to make to the Chinese version so that it conforms to Chinese law?
A: None, that I’m aware; the Baijia Publishing House in Shanghai, China did the translation; everything is in Chinese except for the Title and my name. They have the rights for six years to publish in Chinese language only.
Q: How does your work as a clinical psychologist impact your writing?
A: My ideas for getting inside the antagonist’s heads come from my clinical imagination. The Protocol draws from my experiences working in psychiatric facilities. Interesting enough, the Protocol was my third book, because I was determined not to be stereotyped as a psychological thriller writer. Camouflage draws from my two years living in Bermuda while my father was stationed there in the navy in 1955. I wanted to concentrate on the island and sensual visual scenery as a backdrop for a mystery thriller. The Reunion was taken from my own experiences in high school, college, ROTC. Many of my ROTC buddies flew F-4s in Nam; however, I was unable to go due to a knee injury. High Rise is a good old fashion detective story and is the most complicated plot of my action books. Scenes were drawn from my college days in Austin. The Kauai Connection draws on my two visits to the beautiful island of Kauai and the rugged Na Pali coast on the Northwest side of the island where many movies have been filmed over the years. Symbiosis is about a serial killer on a college campus with Austin as the backdrop for this suspenseful thriller. Night Moves also takes place in Austin and uncovers the corruption and graft in medical research and pharmaceutical companies. Low Country is drawn from my travels to the barrier islands off the Georgia coast with a famous restaurant as the backdrop for drug runners using the Intercoastal waterway for running drugs from Florida to the Northeast USA.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule?
A: Yes, whenever I have time when I’m not working 40 hours a week as a clinical psychologist in private practice and coaching executives. Typically I write 4-8 pages a day. I just finished my tenth book in the last nine years and in the middle of my eleventh. Most are suspense thrillers, but an autobiographical piece, poetry collection, and non-fiction book on retirement are other venues.
Q: If you could trade lives with one of your characters, which one would it be and why?
A: Steve Kerns, the protagonist in Camouflage; his is a family man who does the right thing and puts family before job. Of course, I used literary privilege to explore his affair with the Governor’s wife. That is definitely not autobiographical.
Q: You were at UT during the Whitman shooting? How did that affect you?
A: I was a returning sophomore and arrived on campus two weeks after the shooting. The campus was mourning the deaths of twenty-three students and the press was full of stories about Whitman and his psychological profile. For the first time in my life, I felt vulnerable to random shootings, which is more common today. I felt sadness for the families of those killed and when they closed the observation tower at UT.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to write?
A: At 50, having read fiction all my life, I figured I had something to say. I quickly wrote four books in 18 months plus an autobiography. Writing is my therapy and I enjoy it immensely.
Q: What is your current project?
A: I’ve just finished a comedic rendition of retirement for Boomers based on some of the humor by Dave Barry. The non-fiction book reveals the fun side of retirement and the trials and tribulations of competing for limited retirement resources. An emphasis on self-awareness and positive psychology propels the Boomers into unchartered territory with confidence and humor.
Q: Anything coming out in the next few months?
A: Retirement is for Sissies on the Boomer generation and their quest for a more fulfilling retirement.
Q: Why do you like to coach writers?
A: Easy; I’m working with raw, creative talented writers who have a story to tell and voice that is fresh. Taking their enthusiasm and imposing a structure on their writing is a challenge so that their manuscript can be agented and hopefully published.
Q: Any published writers you’ve worked with?
A: A physician who has written several vignettes about his medical training has a book due out this spring.
Q: Do I need an agent to represent me?
A: Yes; publishing companies do not accept unsolicited manuscripts; make sure your agent is a member of Association of Author Representatives (AAR) or similar professional agency.
Q: I’ve never written professionally. What are my chances of getting published?
A: Less than 3% for first-time authors, but each manuscript makes for better writing.