Guess who’s in the virtual studio today? It’s P.I. Barrington — author of The Brede Chronicles.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
You know it’s funny but for decades I stopped doing art and creative work, thinking that it was foolish and a waste of time. I had other things on my mind—like a career in the music industry. I’ve said this before but I directed all of my energy toward that goal. As a child (I’m dating myself here) I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and determined to meet Paul McCartney though not as a screaming, hysterical woman. I grew up and worked at his record company (the big round one) and did meet Paul and his lovely wife Linda and we had private meeting with the President of the company. My one regret is that I didn’t get a photo because I let the photographer leave. It doesn’t matter though. I did what I wanted. There was so much unbelievable history in that building and the ghost of the music would stop me at times and I would have to just stand on the stair landings and just think about where I was and who had been there before me. It was very haunting at times.
* Where are you from?
I’m a California Girl—I thought I was! I’ve lived there my entire life and always loved it. I was Southern California’s biggest supporter and probably biggest promoter. I’ve always been in love with the California Mystique; all the Hollywood film and music especially! A friend gave my sister the book “Hollywood Babylon” and it was a Babylon from the silent films through the current ones. Instead of being repulsed, it fascinated me. There was no law at times and there are a few times I’ve still felt that way! A friend of mine told me there is an updated version of that book but I haven’t had time to research that.
* Do you have any hobbies?
As I said, I pushed them aside for career reasons. I’m not quite back to painting and sketching yet (I had a cardiac arrest in March last year and have had to deal with health problems) but I have gone back to hand embroidery and of course writing. I also am a rabid gardener and a secret archaeology and ancient history obsessive. I plan to try and get back into art as soon as I feel ready! I plan to learn to crochet; I never learned it and my grandmother got so frustrated she told me I was too stupid to learn how to do it, lol! So, I’m going to give it another try!
* What do you do for a living?
As of right now, I write full-time. Which is a blessing let me tell you! Finally I’m at a place in my life where I am free to give about 97% of my time to it. I’ve done a lot of jobs. I was a mural painter for a child care facility, I worked in radio as an on-air talent I worked in the music industry, sometimes in the film or TV industry. I was a photojournalist for a newspaper for a short time. Since the cardiac arrest, I’ve rearranged my priorities and I’m not so career-driven or sensitive over what people say or try to categorize me.
* What did you study in college?
My major was “Communications” and it was such a waste of time. If I’d stopped to think about it for two seconds, I’d have been a history professor and archaeologist and I’d have tagged along on some digs. I’d be an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft though not pretty like her, lol! I pretty much love all historical eras but ancient studies (like my beloved Egypt) would have made my life complete!
* Give us a few fun facts about yourself.
Let’s see…I was one of the first people to wear peacock blue nail polish in the 1980s and was told that “it just isn’t done” by a co-worker! I have ADD which makes me obsess over trying to organize everything, starting at midnight before I go to bed. I got to do some unbelievable things that even I couldn’t believe! One was going in to a music studio with a band and an engineer and the engineer said to me “Okay what’d you want me to do? How do you want this to sound?” All I could do at that instant was to think “My God, Patti, you’re sitting in a famous studio and you’re a producer!” I felt like that commercial where the top of people’s heads explode and colored smoke comes out! There were so many moments like that which were, I don’t know, sort of magical.
2. When did you start writing?
I was three years old when I learned if you put letters and words together they make a sentence! In third grade I had to write a first person (as the American Flag) about the care of the flag and its due respect. It was some contest that I really didn’t care about and I thought it was a totally silly thing to do. I won the contest which was district wide and we were identified by numbers. I should have known then I couldn’t get away from it. Once I started writing fiction I couldn’t stop. I submitted a proposal to my first publisher (Desert Breeze Publishing) and it was published as a trilogy. That was the Future Imperfect trilogy (Crucifying Angel, Miraculous Deception, and Final Deceit) and people seemed to like it. That really kicked off serious writing for me. Plus DBP’s cover artist, Jenifer Ranieri, gave me some drop dead gorgeous covers!
3. Why did you start writing?
I think that I’ve always loved words and what you can do with them. Finally I had some time and decided I’d try to write seriously and see if I could do it. I wanted to write fiction since I’d always had to write as a journalist. I’ll tell you a secret: I never considered journalism “real” writing. It was reporting facts, giving news to people who needed it or wanted it. But for me fiction was real writing. You conceive an idea, write it, develop characters and their relationships and trials and tribulations. You want readers to connect with them in some way.
4. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
Well, this was a result of my own ignorance really. I loved the concept of a series of chronicles, a charting of characters’ lives and their detours in getting there. And that word chronicles said that to me. I’d read a book in high school, can’t remember the actual title now but it had that word in it. Lately, I’ve been very impatient and so rather than read another series of novels I thought I’d just watch a movie to see how it was done. So I started cheating on research. There was the film at that time entitled The Chronicles of Riddick with Vin Diesel. I’d heard his name but really never had time to watch his movies let alone any other actor. I tried to watch it but could never make it through the first twenty minutes. I hated the aliens; well the other people like aliens, their ships, basically everything. I tried like eight times to watch that damned movie. Finally one day I sat down and told myself I wasn’t going to take my eyes off that film. I watched all of it (loved the one scene with the big cats on planet Crematoria & loved that planet name too) and when the final few moments of that film came up I was sputtering like a dying car engine. I was so surprised at the ending all I could do was shake my head in astonishment! I kept telling my mom (in the kitchen making coffee) “Oh my God! What a complete idiot I am! I never saw that coming, I never watched more than the first twenty minutes! I can’t believe it!” Since most of my books end with cliffhangers of course I loved it. And I didn’t realize that it was the second film of that storyline. When I saw Pitch Black, I loved that film for several reasons. One, the gorgeous film making where the sunlight is so bright it looks black and white and the opening scenes which were great and set the stage for the film’s pace and last I loved the chemistry between Diesel and Radha Mitchell. And it ended with a sad surprise as well. I think I love that movie the best.
* How did you arrive at your book’s title?
As I’ve said, the word chronicles both continues a storyline and expands it so that new storylines can be brought out while keeping most or some of the original characters and bringing them into the story fold per se. So again I cheated and used The Brede Chronicles for my story line and title.
* Were there other titles which you were considering?
No, I pretty much settled on that early. I knew there would be another book at least and wanted to leave the path open for more books.
5. Does your story have a moral?
Um I guess that love wins out in the end no matter what you try to do to prevent that. That’s a human thing and Alekzander is half human. He truly hates that part of himself because he thinks it’s a weakness or his alien half does. That’s his struggle throughout the novel; Elektra’s is that she can’t stop being what she is—a human. They’re almost always at cross purposes but they always in each other’s lives, like it or not. I know that sounds like a typical romance but it’s really more dark and gritty than it sounds.
6. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
God, they go in and out of the story and they grow all over the place like vines, lol! I guess Elektra because she’s both fun and fun (for Alekzander) to make fun of all the time. She just won’t give up no matter what and she has a great back story!
* What makes them so special. What makes them stand out to you?
Don’t kill me but I really love my characters. I create them out of nothing (don’t worry I don’t have a God complex) and then they develop lives and personalities of their own. That alone makes me love them. I love Elektra and I hate/love Alekzander and I love Colin a lot. I love Zander and his horrible attitude too.
* Which character was the most fun to write?
Believe it or not Zander. I hated him but I loved writing him because he’s even more icy cold than Alekzander! He can make people fear him with just a look. He’s terrifying for someone so young.
7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
If I’m on deadline, I’ll set a schedule in the morning and just keep writing until I have to stop. If no deadline, I’ll just keep plugging along until I get stuck or can’t think any longer!
* Do you listen to music as you write?
Never! You have to concentrate on one or the other and it distracts me because I’ll always, always opt to listen to music.
* What is your preferred writing time? Morning? Afternoon? Late at night?
Late afternoon to late at night (midnight or so). By then I’m awake enough to write.
* Do you have a specific location that you go to when you want to write?
My desk wherever and however it happens to be. Now I finally have an office, my desk is there.
* Do you prefer writing outside or indoors?
Indoors, definitely. It’s like trying to read on the beach for me. I can’t focus on anything but the waves, gulls, the scent of the ocean.
* Do you like to write in public places, or do you seek out isolation?
I like to be isolated as much as possible. If I’m out with other people, again, I just get distracted. My desk is the only place I have peace and quiet and can write intensely.
* Do you set daily goals for yourself (in terms of a word count)?
No, not usually. Normally I write until I am worn out or stuck for the next plot point. Then I’ll quit for the day or until I come up with the next idea or chapter.
8. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
That question makes me laugh! I’ve tried every type of outline you can imagine including writing out random notes on index cards and then tossing them on the floor and trying to come up with a story idea! All I ever got was a mess at my feet and total chaos I tried to call a story. I’ll only outline if I have a specific concept for a plotline or plot point to remember it. I write linear.
9. What is your favorite book genre?
This should come as no surprise but I love ancient history such as A God Against the Gods by Allen Drury. I love Middle Eastern historical too.
* Which do you prefer to read in?
Ancient Historical (see above)
* Which do you prefer to write in?
Futuristic low-tech sci-fi is what I write. I can make up worlds or bring this world ahead as what I think it might be or should be or as I don’t want it to be without all the dry technical exposition.
10. What are you currently reading?
I am reading nothing at the moment. I cannot concentrate on writing if I’m reading something else. I DO however read textbooks on certain subjects. Especially if it’s related to my current works.
11. What is your favorite book?
MAD magazine would probably be the one I’d call my favorite along with The Happy Sadist. MAD in its original format and writers.
* Why is it so dear to you? What is it that you like about it? The plot? The author’s style?
I had a large family when I was born, aunts and uncles galore! So the input was varied and most of the time funny. I learned a lot about entertaining people from them, each with their own sense of humor. My youngest uncle who was about eight years older than me would give me MAD when I was about nine and by that time, I’d be screaming with laughter! And The Happy Sadist? I think the title speaks for itself!
12. Any project in the works?
Yes. Always! I have a sci-fi romance in the works, a futuristic epic on intergalactic relations with a romance or two thrown in, and a crime thriller set in the old west believe it or not. Oh, and a fantasy set in an alternate Earth.
13. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Again, it depends upon deadlines. Three to six months or up to a year if there are distractions such as health or moving. Once you master how to do it, it happens fairly quickly. Also I write linear so I’m either opening up a document and writing to the end of whatever page or writing along a time line.
14. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
I think there are several key components to a good story. One is plot. If you don’t have a plot or don’t know how to write one you don’t have a story, excluding stream of consciousness and or some literary writings. Second, your characters must connect with your readers in some way, for good or for bad; they just have to resonate with readers. The third is obstacles. That means your characters have to overcome major (and minor) obstacles that are in their way or that in some way are blocking their progress and many times their own safety or that of a loved one. If you can master those three you should have a good story.
15. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
They may hate me for it but I always tell new and even established writers to be their own worst critic. Be hard on yourself and your work and then others don’t have to be.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
2. Dogs or cats?
3. Summer or winter?
4. Cake or ice-cream?
5. Nights out or nights in?
Nowadays it is nights IN.
6. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
CAR. I am terrified of flying.
8. Working in a group or working alone?
I work alone.
9. To find true love or to win the lottery?
Lottery. Love is overrated.
10. Reading or writing?
Writing! I’ve read everything.
11. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Rap lyrics. Tupac Shakur was a poet. Seriously.
12. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
Neither. Both are horrifying.
13. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Hurricane. That’s why they use the word in rock love songs. Scorpions’ Rock You Like a Hurricane
14. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
No chocolate. Yes C.O.F.F.E.E
15. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
I read this answer in a book: Each is good for some things and bad for others.