David Barker returns with the sequel to his hit novel, Blue Gold, featuring the returning characters of Sim Atkins. This is Rose Gold, I had the pleasure of being to ask Mr. Barker some questions for the #blogtour of Rose Gold.
You have come to writing later in your life, how did this come about?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, even while I was working as an economist. It’s a challenge to convey complex information in a fashion that is succinct, easy to understand and interesting. I had thought about a change in career towards financial journalism but more recently decided that I wanted to stretch myself and try my hand at creative writing.
What was the gestation of Blue Gold and Sim Atkins?
In my previous role I did a lot of research into commodity markets, and one recurring theme was the notion that fresh water would become a precious resource over the next 20 years. I realised that a world war for water would be a great setting for a novel and suddenly I knew what the opening and closing scenes would be for a story.
How long did the first book take to complete, how many drafts?
From that very first idea to the published book hitting shelves, it was about seven years. Talking to other authors I have come to realise this is not uncommon for first novels, especially because most of us write our debuts while working full time. And I think it was the ninth draft that went to print. The biggest changes happened between drafts one and two, which occurred after I had attended the Faber Academy novel-writing course.
What is your normal working day like, do you have a daily word target?
There are certain times of the year when I am just trying to think of new ideas for sticking points in the current project or for completely new future projects. At other times, I am focusing on the promotional side of things. But when I am in first-draft mode, then yes, I try to aim for 2000 words a day. I often get that done by lunchtime (I’m an early riser), so will tend to spend the afternoon reading novels. As Stephen King says, an author should split their time evenly between reading and writing.
What did you like to read growing up, there is a lot of Fleming in your work?
Funnily enough, I did not read a lot of his novels. I loved Douglas Adams, both his Hitch Hiker books and the Dirk Gently series. I read quite a bit of fantasy: Stephen Donaldson and, of course, Tolkien. And I enjoyed Frederick Forsyth’s global thrillers.
What do you read now?
An eclectic mix. I appear on a monthly Radio Berkshire show called Radio Reads, and we review a new book that can be chosen from any genre. I attend a local book club that focuses on Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so that’s my second book of the month. I normally find time for a third book each month, and that varies a lot. I get invited to quite a few book launches so often pick-up the latest best-seller then, or I’ll try to read something from one of my fellow Urbane authors.
Can you talk about the relationship with Urbane Publications?
They are a fantastic independent publisher with big ambitions. They are very supportive, without being proscriptive about what or how you should tackle your latest project. And one thing that really helps their books stand out is the beautiful design detail (in the physical book). For example, in my latest book Rose Gold, there is a double-page spread at the start of each of the three parts, showing a black background and a moon at a different stage of its cycle. In my first novel, Blue Gold, there were faint water droplets in the background of every page.
You have one more book in the trilogy to write, can you give anything away?
It’s called White Gold, and it should be out in May 2019. Something happens to Sim in Rose Gold that becomes the main driving force of his story arc in the final book (no spoiler alerts). But I also wanted to give more time and space to his old partner, Freda Brightwell, who was a big hit with female readers from book one, so you’ll see a lot more of her. And of course, the baddies are bigger and badder than ever!
What will you write after the trilogy is complete?
I’m not entirely sure yet. I have a couple of ideas that are rattling around inside my brain, but both are completely different to the Gaia trilogy.
Any advice for would be scribes?
Keep going – it’s a long slog to complete a novel, and even once it’s finished it’s a tough road to publication. Don’t be put off by the knock-backs or stumbling points. And don’t forget to write with passion – if you try merely to emulate some book trend that’s currently successful, chances are your own voice will disappear along with the fire inside your belly.Rose Gold is out from Urbane Publications now on all formats