For my latest interview i am talking to Chuck Barrett about his upcoming book "The Toymaker". Chuck is a retired air traffic controller after nearly 27 years of sitting in a dark room talking to little blobs on a radarscope. He is also a commercial pilot and flight instructor.
Initially he started writing in his spare time and that's why "The Savannah Project", which has won three awards, took over 10 years from start to publication. His upcoming book "The Toymaker", only took a year and he spent writing most of it in his spare time also. Now that he is retired, writing has become his full-time job…and he loves it!
Books & Writing: When did you start writing on “The Toymaker”?
Chuck Barrett: I started The Toymaker in the summer of 2010 and finished in early summer of 2011. The month of June I worked on it full-time as I retired the last day of May.
Books & Writing: Where did you get your inspiration from, for this book?
Chuck Barrett: A few years ago while my wife and I were on vacation in Moab, Utah where we met a couple at a bed and breakfast. We immediately connected. The first night at supper, while we were talking about our lives and occupations, I noticed he was slightly evasive and non-specific BUT he was using some buzz words I become familiar with from reading all those spy thrillers. And then it struck me, so I asked him point blank…"You make toys for spies, don't you?" After that, we became good friends and he agreed to become a source for my research into my 2nd Jake Pendleton thriller…which was not the same story line as The Toymaker. Then my wife suggested that a story about the man we met would be cool (including the title) so I asked him about it and he agreed. Since he has provided me with all types of cool information about technologies and gadgets…several of which are in The Toymaker.
Books & Writing: How long did you spend each day writing on “The Toymaker”?
Chuck Barrett: Before I retired I didn't have a set writing schedule for every day. Some days I wrote a lot, some very little, and some not at all. I'd go through periods of marathon days where I wrote 12 – 14 hours for 3 or 4 days in a row. Then it might be a week before I got back to it. Now that I'm retired and should have more time to write, I still don't have a definitive writing schedule…but I do have a plan for each day—I just have trouble sticking to it sometimes when the demands of my time are constraining.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about the main character Jake Pendleton?
Chuck Barrett: Jake is a former NTSB aviation accident investigator. He wasn't former in The Savannah Project. He is struggling to come into his own. His character grows throughout both The Savannah Project and The Toymaker. Dealing with his embattled past, Jake's reckless actions land him with a new mentor who forces Jake to make the ultimate decision—who to sacrifice.
Books & Writing: Is Jake Pendleton based on someone you know?
Chuck Barrett: No. Jake Pendleton is pure fiction. But as with all character, there are certain things about him and his psyche that come from real people. It's those characteristics that round out Jake as a lifelike character. Flawed and ambitious, confident, yet insecure about certain things. We could all look in the mirror and find some of his traits in ourselves. When I gave Jake his past, I used events from my life and some of my friends and acquaintances lives. From the beginning of The Savannah Project, I had a plan for the development of Jake's character. He had to face certain trials and tribulations in order to become the character I wanted to continue on in the rest of the Jake Pendleton novels. It was always a two novel plan to get him to that point.
Books & Writing: “The Toymaker” is scheduled to be released on February 12, 2012. Are you planning a release party?
Chuck Barrett: The print release of The Toymaker is scheduled for February 12, 2012 and that is still the plan even though the Kindle and NOOK ebook versions are already available. I struggled to ensure that the digital versions were available by Christmas and we made it. Both the Kindle and NOOK versions were available for download on December 23.
Books & Writing: Who will be publishing “The Toymaker”?
Chuck Barrett: The Toymaker, as is The Savannah Project, is published by independent publisher, Switchback Publishing, an imprint of Wyatt-MacKenzie.
Books & Writing: At which bookstores can people buy “The Toymaker”?
Chuck Barrett: The best place to buy either/both of my books via one of the links from my website...Barnes and Noble online, Amazon, or a signed copy directly from me. Even though The Toymaker was written as a stand-alone novel, it is a spoiler if you haven't read The Savannah Project. I strongly suggest readers read them in order, if for no other reason than to see how Jake grows from the beginning of The Savannah Project to the final chapter of The Toymaker. The original intent was that they be read in order. Starting with the third Jake Pendleton novel, the order won't matter.
Books & Writing: Are you working on a new book at the moment?
Chuck Barrett: I'm currently working on the 3rd Jake Pendleton thriller with plans for a release in late 2012. In my opinion, it is the most exciting story yet. Jake has come into his own and is tasked to uncover a string of unexplained occurrences around the country and will, once again, find himself embroiled in a battle to thwart someone's evil purpose.
Books & Writing: Do you have a favorite Author, whose books you just have to read as soon as they come out?
Chuck Barrett: Unfortunately too many. I am way behind on my reading. Since you asked though, I read what I write—thrillers. My must haves are, in no particular order: Steve Berry, Brad Thor, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben…this list is too long to list them all.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Chuck Barrett: Don't quit. Don't get discouraged. Keep writing. The last few years have seen some unsettling times in the publishing industry and it will continue to change—and probably not the way you'd like to see it change either. Persistence pays off. As the traditional publishers are trying to figure out how to adapt to the rapidly changing ebook world, your own creativity pays off.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the internet?
Chuck Barrett: http://chuckbarrettbooks.com While you're there, sign up for my KILL ZONE newsletter by clicking the "Sign Up" button. Don't worry, you won't get spammed. I've only sent out 3 newsletters in two years. The fourth will come out in late January.
I would like to thank my host for this opportunity. I always enjoy giving author interviews, whether online, through the media, or at book club meetings. It has been my pleasure.