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Our next author in the spotlight is Ken Barrett or better known in the WritingForum community as Indian Roads.

Ken Barrett grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and worked as a Design Engineer for over thirty years in Silicon Valley. He is a lifelong biker (motorcyclist), and an accomplished martial artist with advanced black-belt degrees in Tae Kwon Do, Chinese Kenpo, Hapkido, and Shotokan. He is retired and living in Colorado.

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Who or what inspired you to write your first novel, 'The Dark Side of Joy'?

Long ago I read an interview by a literary agent, in it, he said that a writer’s first novel is often an autobiography, although the story is often told via allusion. That’s the way my Outlaw series came to be.

My parents were drug dealers back in the 1960s, selling pot and LSD to hippies in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Inevitably, they were caught, and my father spent ten years in Soledad prison and my mother was interred for five years at the women’s prison in Vacaville. I was twelve years old at the time, and was sent to juvenile hall, then placed in an awful foster home. When it became impossible for me to stay there I ran away and lived on the streets for several years. My first novel, The Dark Side of Joy, is about that time.

After that novel was published, I received questions along the lines of, what happened next? My second novel, The Last Dragon, was about pulling myself out of the world of criminals and outlaw bikers and starting a normal productive life.

How long did it take you to write?

Each novel took about nine months to write and publish. It was quite a learning experience.

WF members seem to fall into two groups: 'Plotters' or 'Pantsers'. Which group do you identify with and why?

The writing process is shades of grey that are unique to each of us. I’m an avid plotter because that method suits my mentality and background in engineering.

Thirty years ago, I wrote a series of horror novels. I found an agent, but the market was flooded with that genre and I never got published. My first attempt back then, before I had an agent, was a 250,000-word doorstop about Vampires that thankfully never saw the light of day. The story wandered all over the place, didn’t have a cohesive theme, and was riddled with plot holes. In that effort, I learned the truth behind the carpenter’s maxim, measure twice, cut once.

Now I plot everything, and refine the story until I have a page of notes for each chapter, then start writing the first draft. That process keeps me on track.

We have many members, including myself, whose first and only novel still languishes on our computer hard drive. What advice can you offer to help motivate us to either seek Beta readers for an honest review, rewrite, publish or move on to another project?

Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci never finished the Mona Lisa? He kept it close and traveled with it, working incessantly to make it perfect. But perfection is a state that either doesn’t exist, or is found everywhere in everything.

At some point, we have to stop seeking perfection and release our creation into the world where it might inspire or at least entertain the public. None of us can know the power of our words; by holding them back the world remains a silent and dark place for someone.

Publishing takes courage because we fear the judgment of others. You know what though? Those critics have never released or created anything because they allow fear to rule their lives.

Since the publication of your first novel in February 2017, you have notched up a total of seven published books. That's impressive. Do you write every day or as and when? What is your writing process and how do you stay focused?

Thanks. I view writing as a job that I love. Every morning, I have coffee with my wife of 42 years, then go to my home office to write. I have a great view of the Colorado Front Range, which can be a distraction at times, but I put in on average six hours a day.

Staying focused is pretty easy when you love what you do.

I notice five of your novels are part of the Extinction series; how did the series evolve?

As a kid, I read Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and was inspired by how he wove spiritualism and science fiction together. From that, I became fascinated by how humanity might evolve, not just technically and physically, but spiritually.

The Extinction series came about when I considered that with the advancements in artificial intelligence, we may be creating the species that will replace us. That may be a good thing, we are a quarrelsome and petulant species that seems hell-bent on self-destruction. Perhaps, with our last breath, we might create something better than ourselves.

Why did you choose to self-publish your books?

I had an agent back in the 1980s when I was writing horror novels. It was difficult finding one to represent me, and then after months of him submitting my work to publishers, nothing came from it. Eventually, I gave up.

These days it’s easier to just skip the middleman and self-publish.

What do you feel is most important and why? The book cover or the title?


That’s a tough question because everything has to work together.

The cover is the first impression a potential reader comes across, but the title also has to be intriguing. The combination of the two needs to be enough to draw someone to the book webpage or pick it up in a bookstore. After that, they read the product description or back cover blurb, which should entice them to open the book and read a bit.

If you’re selling on Amazon, readers have the option to ‘Download a Free Sample’, which is about 10% of the book. So, there has to be a beat or an event just before that 10% mark that will intrigue the reader and compel them to purchase the book.

Your books are available in paperback and e-books. Which has proved the most popular in terms of sales? You have since offered your Dark Side of Joy and Last Dragon novels in hardcover. What prompted this decision?

Amazon is known for Kindle books, so those sell well. However, many people want to hold a physical book in their hands and feel it’s more portable than an electronic version. It’s best to provide both options.

The hardcover option is new to Amazon, and it’s still in its beta release. I’m uncertain what the market for that format will be, but it costs me nothing to try it, so why not? I’ll also admit to a bit of hubris, I’d like to have hardcover versions of my books on my bookshelf.

You are an active member of the WF. What have you found to be the benefits of joining an online writing community?

It’s great to hang around with people with the same mad urge to sit before a keyboard for months at a time painting the pages of a manuscript with their story. This forum is a place where I feel understood, it’s a family of writers.

Great feedback can also be had at WF; I dislike writing blurbs, and the members here have helped me.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I’ve been a martial artist for most of my life, and have earned a 7th dan black belt in Taekwondo, and other black belts in Shaolin Kenpo, Shotokan Karate, and Hapkido, and I still train three days a week. I’ve also ridden motorcycles for most of my life and usually ride cross country every summer.

What are you working on now?

My next novel will be published in August 2021. It’s titled Redemption, and is a prequel to my Extinction series. The story plays with the concepts of good and evil. No one is purely one or the other; heroes have vices, while villains can be honorable. An antagonist is simply a character that has goals contrary to the protagonist; each character is fighting for what they feel is right. So, I wrote a story about two people who are horrible at the start of the book but slowly move toward redemption by the end of the story.
As the female character expresses in the last chapter:
True redemption probably wasn’t possible, but she would try to become a tarnished light in an otherwise dark world.

Next up is a book about Silicon Valley in California twenty years from now. The idea was suggested by our friend Taylor, and I owe her a signed hardcover copy after it’s published. The story is about the consequences of technological advancement, and how will it be used or abused.

That book, titled Inception, is due out in late April of 2022.

Do visit Ken Barrett's Author page on Amazon

Website: KenBarrettWrites
and Follow Ken on Facebook
 
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When I first joined the forums, clicked on your profile, and followed the links to your books, I was really impressed, Ken. The covers, the professionalism of the presentation, both inside and on the blurb, the content itself, everything. Each one screams out passion and dedication, it's really inspiring. So hats off to you for a fun article as well. You deserve it.
 
When I first joined the forums, clicked on your profile, and followed the links to your books, I was really impressed, Ken. The covers, the professionalism of the presentation, both inside and on the blurb, the content itself, everything. Each one screams out passion and dedication, it's really inspiring. So hats off to you for a fun article as well. You deserve it.
Thanks!
 
I have just finished reading 'The Dark Side of Joy' and could not put the book down. (much to my husband's annoyance as he was waiting for me to cook his dinner) The story kept me on the edge of my seat right until the last sentence. I finished the book, gave it five stars and then immediately ordered book 2 - The Last Dragon
 
I have just finished reading 'The Dark Side of Joy' and could not put the book down. (much to my husband's annoyance as he was waiting for me to cook his dinner) The story kept me on the edge of my seat right until the last sentence. I finished the book, gave it five stars and then immediately ordered book 2 - The Last Dragon
I finished The Dark Side of Joy last week. I was trying to figure out where to best share that here. This is a great place!

The story is spellbinding. Not to give too much away, it is the strength and wisdom of the protagonist that sucks you in. Bravo Ken Barrett!!
 
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