My guest writer today on Ink and Quill, is the very interesting and talented author P.I. Barrington. A lady who won’t stop until she get’s what she wants, and has achieved great publishing success.
NAME: P.I. Barrington
Please tell us a little about yourself:
I am one of those people who don’t stop until they get what they want! What I wanted was to work in the music industry & meet Paul McCartney and that’s exactly what I did. I got to be a part of a tiny bit of music history. I also worked as an air talent in radio. That was all before I returned to writing of course!
When did you first start writing?
In grade school—third grade to be exact. They had some huge writing contest and it had to be in First Person POV as the American Flag and we had to write about the care of the flag. I thought it was the silliest thing I ever had to do and then I won. You’d think I’d start writing at that moment but I had other career ideas.
What does writing mean to you? Why do you write?
You know, it’s something that I loved I guess and didn’t realize it until a few years ago. It’s like when I create art, it’s an urge you get to put words on paper and you can’t think of anything else until you satisfy that urge. It’s same with art for me.
I grew up in a time when there were no computers (until I became a newspaper reporter and then they had just been introduced) or fax machines or Internet. So, writing for me was either using pen and paper or one of those old, now historic, type writers! That’s what I did when I could sneak into my uncle’s office and bang away on those keys writing silly little stories.
Of course now I wouldn’t be without the Internet—the speed alone allows me to write books almost back to back! I really don’t have any serious, deep need to be some writer like Hemingway or Steinbeck. I’m writing only because I want to entertain people, to make them feel like they’ve been somewhere along with the characters. I want them to see the settings, feel the emotions, the trauma, the plotlines and action everything in that world.
“My readers are the ones that are the most important and I want them to feel about my books the way I felt about my favorite books. If I’ve done that, I consider myself successful.”
Where do you find your writing motivation and inspiration?
I do have one secret place where I go to feel inspired and develop story ideas and which I will never reveal, lol! But usually it’s a rather simple formula. I’ll start with characters either their names, the way they look, and their personalities. Once I feel I have any one of those things down, I just start writing and place the story there. For the Brede Chronicles, Book One, the first line just kept popping up in my head and the story took off from there.
What are your current projects?
I’m feverishly writing Book Two since I suffered a cardiac arrest last year and was comatose and then in rehab for months. My publisher, First Realm Publishing, are wonderful and have been so patient with me, so every second I get I’m writing. Other, major changes in my life are also happening so I’ve been crazy busy trying to fit it all in as fast as possible. I’ve got three or four other stories I haven’t been able to even think about yet.
Writers/poets who inspire and influence your own writing?
There have been so many it’s hard to just pick one but I think that I started out at age seven with Shakespeare’s MacBeth and then Stephen King and then Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series. Oh, and also Allen Drury’s “A God Against the Gods and Return to Thebes and Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. One line from that book was “the gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path.”
That philosophy got me into the music industry and into radio. This may sound silly but I found another piece of advice that had to be written for me expressly:
“You are in your own way. Stand Aside.”
I got that in a Chinese fortune cookie, lol. I do stand in my own way A LOT!
Have you any published works, or do you plan on publishing in the future?
I hate to say this, but I did self-publish one novel and doubt I’ll ever do it again. I lucked out on cover art that I loved but that whole process was a disaster for me. Besides, I really support smaller independent publishing houses. They gave me my first break and taught me things that an author should know how to do but many don’t because they think they’re going to make billions in royalties.
In fact I recently saw a publishing article that said there are only 40 authors who self publish and make any respectable money but those authors are selling millions of books. In fact I just got into a heated discussion with another author who insisted he self published for that very reason. He sold a lot of books but nothing like those authors who practically have a right to self-publish and worry about keeping their royalties which are in the six to seven digit money makers.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
I joined an online writing group and they announced a submission call for a new publisher Desert Breeze Publishing who had just moved to California. I sent an actual script (film) I think and Gail Delaney (EIC) asked me to write up a chapter for her for a new book and I did. It was a three book deal by the time we got through. Her partner Jenifer Ranieri was the cover art designer and let me tell you she has outdone many of the big pub houses.
They are very professional and my trilogy has reverted rights to me which makes me sad in a way and happy in another. I don’t think authors use indie pub houses enough because again, they think they’re going to make millions. DBP taught me about cover art, contracts, etc., and I thank them for that. First Realm is the same way.
Tell us about your writing process:
Well, as I said, I’ll pick out names and then physical description, then personalities or I’ll reverse that order. Once I have those, I’m a pantser all the way. I absolutely love when this happens in my writing: I’ll be writing and put some seemingly unimportant detail (usually to me too) in the beginning and then it becomes a huge pivotal point in the story.
That happened again in The Brede Chronicles and I was thrilled.
I write what I call “Linear” writing and I’ve only met one author who writes like that. Linear writing works one of two ways: Vertical where you open up a document and start writing down the page until you can’t write any longer and then you pick up where you left off. Horizontal writing is like a timeline. Imagine the crease in the middle of a checker board. That’s your timeline and all the black & red squares are your characters that are leap-frogging over each other to get to the end of the story. That’s how I usually write my crime thrillers and sometimes my sci-fi books as well.
Do you have a specific writing style/genre?
Well, since I started writing I’ve always said that writing should be tight and as concise as possible and people thought I was an egomaniac who thought she knew everything. Then after a year they started saying the same thing as if they’d just come up with it, lol. Why say something in a hundred words when you can say it in fifteen? My work can be gritty but no excessive violence or sex. Writers think they can just stick the F-word and some explicit sex scenes and that makes their work “edgy.” It doesn’t and if they’re struggling to make it work it shows.
The deeper and darker you go with a character that’s when it gets edgy and I’m not talking violence and or insanity either as in horror stories. It has to come from trauma, from the gut so to speak. There’s more to human emotions than madness and if you can harness that and reproduce it in the correct way to make it affect your readers then you have mastered at least one part of your writing style. I think that’s my voice. As far as genre goes, I gravitate toward futuristic, sci-fi, and crime thrillers and I have no idea why. I think it’s because I grew up in the nuclear war era and my entire childhood and young adulthood terrified nuclear war will destroy not only the planet but humanity as well. I try not to go too deep into dystopian but to have a hope for the future. It’s the only way not to become constantly depressed.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you want to be a serious writer, you don’t just one day sit down and write, you study writing until you can easily manipulate it. If you’ve never read a book, and then decided you were a writer, that’s going to show.
“It’s like learning an instrument. There’s practice, practice and more practice to be a master of your instrument and for writers, words and their usage is the instrument.”
Like art, learn your craft. If you don’t, readers will. And no one wants that, trust me.
Please share your favourite piece/s with us and a brief description of the inspiration behind it:
This excerpt is a bit of back story and paves the way for Elektra Tate to have some unusual skills to keep her alive. I’d given those skills to her early in the book I had to explain now how she got one of them.
She didn’t know much but she knew when someone was bad. And the man who carried her over his shoulder like a sack of garbage was bad. He scooped her up ignoring her terrified screams and slapping her face until she shut up as he ran through the piles of filth that lined the streets of Garbage City. She tried to resume screaming but her body bumped up and down on him so hard she could barely breathe and concentrated on that for the moment. At last he stopped running and flung her down at the end of an alley where she hit the ground with a lung shattering thump. For a moment everything went dark and when she could see again her clothes were ripped apart and his hands were touching her roughly everywhere. Too terrified to make noise she struggled to no avail and even biting him did not help. When he knelt over her undoing his pants fear gave way to fury and she glimpsed something protruding from one of his pockets. She quieted for a moment and she could smell and feel his rancid breathy laughing over her. She waited for the opportune moment and the grasped the only thing that might come to her rescue.
“You are bad.” She said in a small angry voice. “You are very, very, bad.”
He laughed again until she pointed the gun at his face. He tried to swat it out of her hand but wrath made her aim precise. She pulled the trigger making his hand and arm snap back and he screamed with pain, staring at the hole in his wrist.
“You little—” He tried to lean over her again but she sat up and pointed the barrel at him again.
“No. You are bad.” She pursed her lips solemnly and aimed for his shoulder.
When he screamed the second time people’s heads appeared in their windows and by the fifth scream many ran into the alley to see what could make a grown man sound like that. None dared approach her as she stood over him gun still in her hand, frowning and breathing hard. He looked at the gathering his face imploring.
“Catch this bitch! Look what she did to me! God damn it don’t let her go! Look what she did!”
No one moved.
“Catch her for God’s sake! She—”
“No!” she cut him off. “He is bad. He tried to do bad things to me. He is bad.” She never took her eyes off him and even took a step toward him. “If you ever do bad again I will do more bad to you.”
He tried to sit up and she shot the ancient cobblestones near his knee. He screamed again and managed to scramble to his feet fast enough to avoid being shot at again. He looked around the crowd with wild eyes until he realized none there would help him. “She’s a crazy little bitch! You’ll be sorry you let her live.” He backed out of the alley never taking his eyes off her and the gun. “You’ll be sorry. You’ll all be sorry! Bitch!” he spat at her feet and then turned and ran.
She faced them all, gun dangling in her hand waiting for reaction. None came. They slowly turned away and went back into their three room apartments silently until no one was left. No one said a word, no one berated her for bad behavior, all turned away silently as if she was a disease not to be discussed openly. At last she stood alone in the full nightfall; building high piles of trash giving off horrific stench as they cooled from the searing daytime heat. She gazed down at the weapon in her hand and knew it was her best friend. She shuffled among the filth until she found a niche carved into a wall and crawled down into it, covering herself with trash and cradling the gun in her arms.