Interview With The Author: Barry Lancet

by John Dwaine McKenna

Our author for this weeks interview is, Barry Lancet, who is without a doubt one of the hardest working, most dedicated to the craft and elegant writers to ever cross the MBR radar screen.  He’s well on his way to becoming an A-list talent whose name, face and book covers will be seen in every airport book kiosk in the country. Yeah . . . he’s that good . . . and he’s that busy too. With our deepest respect and profound thanks, here’s Barry Lancet, creator of the Jim Brodie mystery series and a personal favorite of ours.

Hello, and welcome to the Our first question today is:

Why do you write?

It fills a void. I found my initial subject with the JIM BRODIE books, and some of the void was filled. With my next book, a stand-alone, I hope to fill in the rest of it.

Where do you write?

Anywhere. Seriously. When I was writing JAPANTOWN, I had a family with young kids and was working sixty-hour weeks, so I taught myself to work standing up on a crowded commuter train, using a clipboard. That is no exaggeration. I had such a busy schedule that I needed to use the 45-minute-commute time to write. It took two months of trial and error before I could keep my balance, tune everything out, and write usable prose. But I got it done. I no longer need to work under such severe conditions, but now I can write pretty much anywhere and tune out any distractions.

When do you write?

I keep an unusual schedule and I’ve yet to run into any other author who does the same. I write in two sessions. In the morning at home, and in the afternoon at one of the many coffee houses around my place. The second session begins after I take a long break in between to relax, so in effect I have two “morning” sessions.

Who’s your favorite literary character?

Let’s talk favorites, plural. And a selection.  In random order, I like Robert B . Parker for his precision, humor, characters. I like Kurt Vonnegut, who I recently rediscovered for his clarity, wit, casualness, and originality (as in “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.”)

I am also a long time fan of Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo, both of whom are not only great writers but also early practioners of the thriller—in the age before radio, television and shorter attention spans. I like Jane Austen for her language, wit and observations, particularly Pride and Prejudice. And I like Dostoyevsky, especially Crime and Punishment, one of the best psychological thrillers of all time (though the beginning is slow.)

Do you read your reviews?

Yes, I read them if I find them. I don’t get many negative reviews, but all authors get some. Still, I don’t worry about them. Stuff happens and life is short.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

As a former book editor, I’ve been asked this question more times than you can imagine, so I added a Writer’s Corner to my website, with a collection of information based on both my editorial and writing experience. Some of it is counterintuitive. Anyone interested can find the page here.

Does luck play into success?

 If by “luck” you mean a satisfying, fleshed out novel that works on all the levels it should, then no. That is about hard work and perseverance. If you are talking about commercial success, then yes.  It takes a variety of factors falling into place.

Where could you be reached on the World Wide Web?


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Barry Lancet is the author of the award-winning JIM BRODIE series that began
with JAPANTOWN (Simon & Schuster). The most recent book is THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE, now out in paperback. Lancet is currently working on the next Brodie book and a standalone.

Thanks again for taking time out from your workload to talk with us, for sharing your insights, and knowledge and for being so nice to work with.  Please keep us in the loop when your next books are due.  –JDM