Sunday 19 February 2012


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is John Barlow. I was born in England, and I now live in Spain.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I was 32, by which time I’d written a lot of stuff. In a way it was a good training, because rejection pushes you to try harder and look at why your work is not succeeding.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I do some food journalism and I work as a ghost-writer. I used to be a university teacher, but since 2004 (when my first book was published) I’ve made a living from writing, one way and another.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
HOPE ROAD. It’s a crime mystery. Not hard-boiled, but with murder, counterfeit money, fine wines, second hand cars, racing horses... How’s that?

Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
My previous books were published by HarperCollins and Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US, and a variety of publishers elsewhere in the world. HOPE ROAD is my first foray into self-publishing. I’ve decided to give it a go because things in the book business are changing so incredibly quickly and I don’t want to get left behind. The mystery genre is a new departure for me, so it seems a good moment to make the switch.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
The same genre. HOPE ROAD is the first in a series which should comprise nine novels. This is my genre for the long haul...

What genre would you place your books into?
Crime mystery (not hard-boiled) with strong characters, particularly the women.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I decided to do a crime novel because I’d always read crime, and in fact in the early days I used to write it. A year ago I discovered that a half-uncle of mine was an arms dealer (and thief) who was found with his throat cut on a plane in 1984. That started me off thinking about families and how there can be crime within them but without dominating every part of the family.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
John Ray, the main character. He’s half-English, half-Spanish. He’s also the son of a career criminal but has a respectable life, including a girlfriend who is a police detective. So, he’s divided on many levels, and this, I hope, gives him an interesting perspective on life.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes I do. You can learn a lot from *some* of what reviewers say. I used to get very uptight if somewhere like the New York Times even hinted at anything negative. But now I stand back and try to see if I can learn anything useful. Overall, I feel that if you do the very best work you can, every time, there’s not an awful lot more you can do. I stand by everything I’ve written.

How do you market/promote your books?
I’ve only been an indie for a couple of weeks, so this is all new to me. I’m contacting book blogs, asking for reviews or the chance to do an interview, trying to get the word out. Visibility is the biggest problem for indie writers, even if you’ve been published traditionally before. All you can do is hope people will see your book and take a chance on it. Setting the price at a reasonable level helps with this, I guess.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
Ebooks, almost exclusively. I’m working through the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Not totally. Print books are so much a part of our culture, I think they’ll retain their special quality. But for everyday reading, commercial and ‘genre’ reading in particular, I think the transition will be pretty quick and pretty definitive. I also see a time when lots of people will start getting rid of their paperbacks, so there’ll be a bonanza of cheap second-hand paperbacks out there.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Don’t worry about failure. Keep going, but keeping pushing to improve. Ask yourself and others what you can do better, what your weak points are, what’s holding you back. Also, although you might like some parts of the writing process more than others, you’ve really got to love the overall experience of being a writer day-in, day-out, or it’s just not gonna be worth it.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I work as a ghost-writer, so yes, definitely. Last year I also published an ebook under the pseudonym Joe Florez. The book is a humorous crime novel and I published it on Amazon as an experiment, to see what all this ebook thing was about. Clearly, I enjoyed the experience because now I’m back, and I’m not in disguise this time...

Thanks for inviting me onto Read n’ Review. It’s been a pleasure!

Any other Information you wish to add?

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