We’ve had an interview with thriller debutant J.D. Barker, his book is our debut of the month January. Just keep on reading!
Who is J.D. Barker? What should we really know about you? How would you describe yourself using three words?
Hmm. Three words? That’s tough. How about: tenacious, driven, chocolate-lover. Ok, that’s actually four words, but it’s tough for us Americans to do an interview with someone in the Netherlands without thinking about your chocolate. I’d gladly hop on a plane to your side of the world for a little Dutch chocolate.
How long does it take for you to write a book?
Usually about three months for the first draft. Then another two to get it just right. I write around 2,000 – 3,000 words per day so it moves fairly quickly.
When you begin to write a story, do you already know how it ends or do you let the story and the characters lead the way? Do you plot your story from start to finish?
I’ve never been a fan of plotting out novels. When an author does, I think the reader can tell. The book feels formulaic. In ON WRITING Stephen King said if he doesn’t know where a book is going, the reader won’t either – I firmly believe in that. I usually start by getting to know my characters really well, everything about them, even things that won’t make the book. Once they feel like real people to me, I drop them into the story. I’ll typically know my beginning and a few things I’d like to see happen along the way, but for the most part, I let those characters tell the story. Let them decide where the book will go. That’s how life works. Why should a book be different
What do you need to write? Peace and quiet, music, do you lock yourself away somewhere, certain snacks? What are your writing habits?
I am a creature of habit. I write every day from eight in the morning until noon in the same place in my house. I listen to a thunderstorm soundtrack while writing. The sound of it tends to drown out everything else and tells my brain it’s time to write now. No snacks but plenty of coffee. I also go on a five-mile run every day. I use that time to think about what I’ll be writing the next day. A little trick I learned long ago – I never get up from my desk unless I know what my next sentence will be. Sometimes I stop mid-sentence. I’ve found as long as I do that, my brain will continue working on the story while I go about the rest of my day.
The fourth monkey is your debut in Holland, but more books have been released in the US. How come we only get to know you just now?
That is an excellent question. Let’s hope more are published there soon! I self published my first book (FORSAKEN) in only English in 2014. Recently, publishers have been picking it up in other languages so hopefully we’ll see it in the Netherlands soon. I also wrote a prequel to DRACULA with Bram Stoker’s great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker called DRACUL. It came out a few months ago. A few of my books have been optioned for film and television. As word spreads, I think you’ll see a little more of me.
The fourth monkey is the first book with detective Porter. Do you have any idea how many more books will have him as the protagonist?
There are three planned books in the 4MK storyline. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about Sam Porter, though, and I’d love to continue.
The Fifth to Die is the second book, any idea when (or if) it will be released in The Netherlands?
It will be released in the Netherlands but I don’t know the date. I imagine it will be about a year from now.
You are writing a book with James Patterson (I am a huge fan!). Can you tell something more about this collaboration? How did this happen? What kind of book will it be? Any idea if it will be translated?
Patterson read THE FOURTH MONKEY and was kind enough to call it ingenious. I’ve always been a fan of his so to hear something like that from him was tremendous. While I was visiting family in Florida, he and I met for lunch and started brainstorming ideas for a collaboration. We recently finished and the book is one of my favorites. Our writing styles blend perfectly and the result is a fast-paced thriller unlike anything either of us has written. At this point, I’m not allowed to share the title or the synopsis but keep an eye out for it – I’m sure it will be published in The Netherlands – probably around 2020.
Do you like to read yourself? What genre is your favorite? Who is your favorite author?
What is the best book have ever read? To make long things short: what book is an absolute must read according to you?
I love to read. I actually grew up in a house without a television. There were always books, though. Favorite authors include Patterson, Dean Koontz, Thomas Harris, Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain…I’ll read just about anything. Best book? One of my personal favorites is GREAT EXPECTATIONS. There’s something about that story that draws me in. I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve read it.
Is there anything we can wake you up for?
Right now, my fifteen-month-old daughter has a monopoly on waking everyone in our house. She’s currently teething.
What is your favorite destination for a holiday?
My wife and I love to travel and have been all over the world. The Netherlands is a favorite. We’d love to return to Rome. We have yet to visit Egypt. There never seems to be enough time no matter where we go. Life is too short and it flies by. We try to keep that in mind and load up our time with as many experiences and new places as possible.
Is there something we should have asked but we didn’t? Is there anything else you might like to share?
When reading THE FOURTH MONKEY, pay attention to everything. There are clues everywhere, including the dedication. Half the fun as a reader is trying to puzzle it out and all the answers are right there, you just need to watch for them. Sometimes the biggest secrets are hidden in plain sight.