Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today, I’m chatting to Barry Faulkner. Welcome to the tearoom, Barry. What would you like to drink?
Thank you for the invite, Paula. I’m a coffee person, preferably Morrison’s French style.
Now we have our refreshments can I start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
English teacher Mr Reid at the William Penn Comprehensive School, East Dulwich, London. He sent a short story I’d written aged 14 into a LCC (London County Council in those days) schools competition and somehow I won 1st prize, a pen! Never won anything before or since so it was a red letter day and lit the fire inside me. I followed that up at 16 with a letter of encouragement from the head of comedy at the BBC saying a script I’d sent in was very good and I should carry on writing. These days the Beeb won’t even look at anything unless it’s through an agent. I left school and became a copy writer in advertising and kept sending stuff around the various media and ended up as Writer/Script Editor at the BBC and other ITV companies on a freelance basis. But I really owe it all to Mr Reid.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I’m about to publish the first in a new series featuring international private eye Ben Nevis and his lady partner The Gold Digger. From their office in the Borough High Street, London, their cases take them all over the world. In the first one they go chasing illegal missiles being sent to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard via Cyprus and Turkey. It’s all action involving organised crime, bent financiers and MI6, which is quite different to my DCS Palmer and the Serial Murder Squad series. Ben is a cross between Reacher and Bond and doesn’t take prisoners.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Too many J! As well as two more DCS Palmer, one more Bidder Beware volume, three Ben Nevis and a dystopian adventure, all sketched out, I’ve the beginnings of a follow up to my factual book about major UK Criminals ‘London Crime’ that will be looking at UK serial killers. I need to shut down the part of my brain that comes up with new book ideas for a while!
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
1. Laurie Lee the best descriptive writer ever. My books tend to be fast action so I don’t do descriptive scenes but he could, amazing writing, taught me to use adjectives sparingly and in context.
2. John Steinbeck, I must have read The Grapes of Wrath six or seven times, it is a monument to classic writing and sucks you into the American ‘dust bowl’ life in the great depression of early 1930s with the best human relationship observant writing you’ll find anywhere.
3. Ian Fleming for the James Bond books, couldn’t put them down when I discovered them as a teenager, pure escapism from my Brixton stomping ground, but you wondered if that really was the world of spies and hit men. 4. Robert Crais, his Cole and Pike novels mix the serious with the sarcastic in equal parts. He has his own style of writing and Cole’s asides and observations of other people are spot on.
4. A little off-piste here, Martin Scorsese and his writer Steven Zallian for the film The Irishman, and the writer of the book it was based on, I Heard You Paint Houses, Charles Brandt for all those great De Niro and Joe Pesci gangster film scripts culminating in The Irishman. The producers of the rubbish Kray and Hatton Garden films could learn a lot from the master.
5. John Cooper Clarke, ‘the punk poet’. I had never even read poetry until I was on a train in the 70’s going from London to Manchester with John Cooper-Clarke going up for a Granada TV bash and we hit it off. I came away with a book of his poems and a new interest. I don’t write poetry myself but the use of words by some of the contemporary poets is just amazing.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Not on purpose but you’ll see from my biography page on my website that I met quite a few criminal ‘characters’ through family connections so I am quite open to the idea that some of them, an indeed some of the ‘coppers’ too, lurk inside my brain and surface now and again. I have the son of a retired Detective Sergeant (he’s 92) who emails me after each new DCS Palmer book to tell me ‘dad says so-and-so is based on Mr X or Sergeant Y,’ but they aren’t, well not consciously anyway.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
Oh what a question! I think authors who do research learn so much. I’m very lucky that I have a daughter who is very high up in the Police, a niece who is a forensic scientist and the son of a good friend who works in the National Police Improvement Agency which supersedes PITO, Police Information Technology Organisation in keeping one step ahead of the criminals in IT, cyber and dark web technology. So I can usually get the answer to any procedural, scientific or technological questions that pop up when writing.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
My family background. I do lots of illustrated talks (not during covid) to WIs and other social clubs on the major UK crimes and criminals 1930s to the present day. I start off by giving my family background and when I finish that part I always tell the ladies present that I have noticed how they all checked their handbags when I was speaking, and really they should be more worried about my brother and the low loader in the car park!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am one of those writers who need peace and quiet and hates interruptions when the words are flowing so I write from 11pm – 1 am. Sometimes I get so involved the dawn breaks and the other half appears with the dogs leads in her hand. A silent order. We have three Springers and live in the Forest of Dean so dog walks are a joy and great for clearing the brain. I do book promotion, catch up with the mail in the morning, gardening and lounge about (some chance!!) in the afternoon. Evenings are entertainment time with Netflix and Premier league. I don’t read a lot, I like Narcos films and series like Escobar, Breaking Bad and my all time favourite The Sopranos or I might watch the AC/DC Live at the River Plate concert on You Tube ( again) with the ear phones on as the wife is a drum n’bass fan. We miss going to live shows at the moment.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I have a brief outline of the plot and the characters are unnamed at that stage. They acquire names as we go along as the plot always changes and I like them to fit their character. Most have either Christian or surnames of people I’ve known or know personally or from newspapers. For instance if I’m describing a big fat thief and his surname is Green I think readers will get an image?
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About 6 weeks once the outline is down on paper, then leave for a week and edit twice, then send out ARCs ( always open to new ARCs joining my happy band) then it goes to the proof reader, then the editor. At this point my cover designer gets an ARC and comes back with ideas and sketches. When all is in place it goes onto my website, I publish and try to get some traction of various face book pages and twitter which is hard going as indie writers don’t have major publishers sending out freebies and signed copies so I find FB pages tend to get the same authors being promoted all the time, but that’s life eh? Do you want a hand with washing up the cups, Paula? I’m house trained.’
Thank you, Barry for your kind offer, but we have a dish washer 😊. To find out more about Barry’s books and writing check out the links below:
Website : barry-faulkner.com
Facebook: Barry Faulkner
UK Crime Book Readers and Writers Page. ( forensic stuff)
Amazon books: Author’s Page Amazon
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.