MA: I am pleased to introduce today’s guest-blogger, P.I. Barrington. Ms. Barrington is an ex-entertainment industry professional (read: radio air talent to record label worker bee) who has recently returned to her original career choice of fiction writing. She lives in Southern California, and her first novel, Crucifying Angel, launched in early November.
So, tell us what you did before you became a writer? Your previous entertainment industry experiences sound interesting.
PI: I pretty much did everything else I wanted to do in life before I finally succumbed to the realization I have to write whether I want to or not. It’s the easiest work I’ve ever done and getting published has been astoundingly easy. I started out as a newspaper reporter for my local paper and then went back to college and discovered radio! That’s the second easiest job and like writing, was incredibly easy to do professionally. But I wasn’t satisfied. My goal since I first saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan as a kid was to grow up, work at a record label and meet Paul McCartney. I worked at Capitol Records and met both Paul and Linda McCartney before her death. That was the epitome of my working career. They were two of the most gracious people I ever met. I could die happy. After a long twenty-odd years I finally decided to try writing again and it all just gelled together.
MA: I’m impressed! I’m a big Beatles fan myself, so I think that’s really cool you got to meet the McCartney’s. As for writing, many authors would say writing is difficult – certainly the publishing/marketing/advertising end of the business. If you find it easy, then you are undoubtedly talented and lucky! With all you’ve done in your life, what lured you to novels?
PI: I love fiction, always have, and I like the fact that maybe somehow I can make someone feel better, happier, or at least engage them emotionally with my books. To me, the best books stay with you forever. I’d love to achieve that one day. That’s my definition of a ‘real’ writer.
MA: Considering your background, you’ve likely encountered some interesting people, some high-maintenance celebrity types…did you shape any fiction characters based upon your experiences?
PI: My characters usually don’t come from real life, per se. They may have characteristics of real people I’ve known but most of them arise from pictures of people I collect from various sources. Most of them are anonymous but they have the look I want and they basically ‘tell’ me who and what they are. And lots of times they’ll tell me their names. Sometimes, I will have a germ of a personality quirk, flaw, or habit that later will develop into a full-on character.
Career wise, I’ve dealt with a variety of people from average to massive celebrities. It kind of gives you a perspective as to the conflicts that everyone has no matter who you are. Everyone carries guilt, everyone makes mistakes in judgment, everyone suffers in some way and everyone has to make difficult decisions. That’s the human component in fiction. My characters always develop major conflicts.
MA: Well, I think good conflict is what oftentimes shapes a story into excellent fiction. Tell us about your writing.
PI: Crucifying Angel is my debut novel. It’s the first in a series called Future Imperfect. My editor/publisher calls it sci-fi but I like the term “near-future” since it’s not really that far into the future and isn’t really hard-core science fiction. And there is a romantic element to it as well. The second book, tentatively titled Miraculous Deception is underway at this time. It’s slated for a June 1, 2010 release.
MA: Interesting – I don’t do a lot of sci-fi reading (even though my series, the Child Finder Trilogy is a paranormal mystery). Who is your protagonist?
PI: Well, it started with a female character, Payce Halligan, who immediately became the romantic interest of the male character, both of whom are the protagonists so to speak. I didn’t want Payce to be a ‘thunder thighs’ type of super hero woman so I made her small and petite. I’ve actually known police officers who are small like that, and I think that gives her a more realistic, relatable persona. My hero, Gavin McAllister, is tall dark and British and I wanted him to be completely out of his element so I stuck him in the most opposite place from Britain I could think of, which turned out to be Las Vegas 32 years into the future with the rapidly breaking down environment. I’ve been to both Britain and Las Vegas (too many times to keep count) and environmentally, they’re polar opposites. Britain is cool and wet while Vegas is dry and hot. So, he’s not only battling his own personal demons but also the place he’s physically in as well. Both characters have terribly tragic personal histories and are trying to deal with those as well as each other both as partners and romantic interests.
Gavin has momentary lapses in judgment and he has this awful habit of ending up in situations where he is completely misunderstood. I think his biggest strength is that he can deal with this giant heap of guilt on his head and that he’s trying to move ahead with it.
MA: So who serves up the conflict…who is the bad guy or girl in your stories?
PI: There is a particular bad guy in each book, but there’s also another shadow bad guy throughout all three books. I can’t say more than that right now.
MA: You sound like a government agent – I can’t say more than that right now, something I used to say a lot! So, does art imitate life for you in your novel?
PI: I worked in emergency medicine for a while and that included working with fire and police departments so I have a bit of knowledge there as well as having a brother-in-law who’s a cop. I watched him work his way up from beat cop to Homicide Detective to Sergeant, and I asked questions all along the way. So I have a pre-built-in reference source!
MA: You mentioned that Crucifying Angel is the first in a series you are writing. Tell us about your projects.
PI: Before I started this series I had several projects going on at any given time. But when my editor contracted me to actually write this series for her, I soon realized that everything had to go on the back burner to get Crucifying Angel done on deadline. I have a little more leeway with Book Two. But I’ve still got those other stories percolating. They’re in different genre’s including a paranormal mystery that hopefully is funny too and it takes place in Hollywood; there’s a real sci-fi fantasy where both genres’ are merged; and an ancient medical thriller that someday will be published—I hope. Oh, and I’d love to be able to write a sitcom.
MA: With all the different types of genres and ideas you have, surely your protagonists won’t feature in your other projects, or will they somehow?
PI: Yes, definitely. Payce and Gavin of course will carry through to the end and several of the characters will carry through one or two books and some will be…’removed’. I think location has a lot to do with the structure of the story as well as creating plotlines, atmosphere and conflict/obstacle potential. But you have to know your locations especially if you’re writing in current or near-future times. It lends verisimilitude and engagement to your story.
MA: (dictionary on my knee…looking up v-e-r-i-s-i-m…oh, forget it!). Well, thanks very much P.I. for spending some time with us today! I enjoyed our chat, and I know my readers will enjoy reading about you and your books. For more information about P.I. Barrington and Crucifying Angel, please visit: