Interview with Lachlan Barker

When did you first start writing?
I first began writing in a remotely serious way in the late nineties, while working as a computer programmer.
Already I was dissatisfied with the life in front of the screen and sought something different.
I was in love with the idea of living as a freaky beatnik in a mud brick hut on the coast of Australia, so I wrote a book after work called, 'How not to Build A Mud Brick House'.
I rang a publisher but they said "we only take manuscripts if they come from a literary agent", so I got out the phone book, and rang the first agent in the Yellow Pages, they said, "we only take you on if you've already been published".
So then I gave up on the idea until I heard about Smashwords.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It all started with a letter I wrote to my friend Pat all about a four day trip from Jakarta on the island of Java in Indonesia to Padang Sumatra.
The trip should take 24 four hours travel time, all going well, but of course it didn't, quite the reverse.
My letter to Pat ended up being 26 hand written foolscap pages.
Pat said I could be the next Clive James, that was praise indeed.
I'm nowhere near that good, but I appreciated the comment.
But then when i got to the end of that little piece of wiriting and put it on my blog, many of my friends asked 'what happened next?', and so i continued until, 75,000 words later, and with Europe, Britain and the Phillipines visited, I had written a book.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
In this modern world of ePrinting, the odds against an unknonw being taken on and published by a moajor publishing house are so much greater, and so here I was able to get my little book published and my friends could all read it.
This would never have happened even ten years ago.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
By creating a forum for unknown authors to get there words out into the world.
I really appreciate the site and the chance it has given me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think it is when someone says (and I have been lucky to have had this twice), "I really enjoyed your book, it had me hooked, can't wait for more".
Also, the chance to write something that you know is good, and are able to have people read, and hopefully enjoy it.
I enjoyed this little bit in an Indonesian chapter of my book:
"What is your name?", said Neil, in Bahasa.
The bus driver, justly thinking we were addressing him said "Rambo".
Like absorbed spectators at a tennis match our eyes swivelled to stare at him.
Whether 'Rambo' is a genuine Indonesian name, or if it was a nickname bestowed on him, I do not know, but I strongly suspect the latter from the way he drove.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything really.
While you can enjoy the compliments, you have to also listen and respond to the criticism when it comes.
This is hard, but vital to improve your writing.
What are you working on next?
A story about exploding septic tanks, provisionally titled, 'Shit Happens'.
Who are your favorite authors?
Non-fiction, Bill Bryson.
Fiction, Tom Wolfe and Tom Sharpe and Clive James.
Maybe I should change my pen name to Tom Barker, and hope the literary quality filters through to me.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Surfing, my main work as a gardener, my blog (, and of course, writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Surfing, gardening and having coffee with friends.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through an interview that Mark did on Australia's version of NPR, the ABC.
Published 2014-01-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Easy Way Out......(?!)
Price: Free! Words: 8,840. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
If only Jarryd had decided to become a writer in the first place there wouldn't be a shot gun blast hole in the wall of his apartment, and his ceiling joists would still be in place. He also would still have his car, and who knows, maybe Anya wouldn't have left him, which started all this.
Year of the Rant. Part Three: Spring Loaded, Spring, 2013
Series: Year of the Rant., Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 26,770. Language: English. Published: April 11, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » World politics
This is the third part of the 'Year of the Rant' Series. The latest collection of posts from Lachlan's blog. It's all here: the fight for the environment, politics, commercial TV. It all comes within the ambit of Lachlan's fury. Send it to a friend as a gift? But only do this if you want your friends to know you are a total cheapskate.
Year of the Rant. Part Two: The Winter of Our Discontent, Winter, 2013.
Series: Year of the Rant., Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 33,050. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » World politics, Nonfiction » Publishing » Self-publishing
Year of the Rant, Part Two: The Winter of Our Discontent, Winter, 2013 is the second collection of posts collected from Lachlan's blog. Make sure your eReader is coated with asbestos as it gets increasingly volcanic.
Year of the Rant. Part One: Ignition Point, Autumn, 2013.
Series: Year of the Rant., Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 21,460. Language: English. Published: February 22, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Government
Lock's Blog, collected into a four part book, this being part one. Follow along over a year of increasingly incandescent raging at the machine, from the Australian Federal Government to the Republicans and the Tea Party in the US.
Long Way Round to Rehab
Price: Free! Words: 83,770. Language: English. Published: January 10, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Budget, Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases
Read another story of cut-price travel, with its crowded Asian markets, chilly London roads, and a descent into alcoholism. This version contains a first chapter preview of Lachlan's first fiction novel, The Destruction of Lasseter's Road. Out at Smashwords in September, 2014.