Interview with Clayton Barnett

What is your writing process?
Two things, mainly.

One, from the late Jerry Pournelle, "start your story in the middle." I often begin not only not knowing what's going on, but not even who it is I'm writing about.
Two, while not a fan of his works, I am a fan of Hemmingway and his style. In particular, I take to heart his admonition to "write drunk and edit sober!"
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
That was almost fifty years ago! It might have been "Harry the Dirty Dog," but I really don't recall...
How do you approach cover design?
My first book, The Fourth Law, was put together by a very talented artist friend of mine, on my shoe-string budget. Finding my financial feet - and learning how important coverart is - I've since farmed my ideas out to and have been very pleased with the results. There are some amazingly talented folks just a few clicks away.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Colleen McCullough's "Master's of Rome" series; best historical fiction.
JRR Tolkien, "Lord of the RIngs;" best world-building.
Niven & Pournelle's "Mote in God's Eye;" best first-contact book.
About 1/3rd of the works of Shakespeare; best grasp of human nature.
The visual novel, "Katawa Shoujo;" it made me realize: if these yobs can write & publish, the hell I can, too!
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly non-fiction history and theology.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't e-read, sorry. My eyes are old and tired and I'd rather hold a book in my hands.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'll let you know when I find one that's effective...
To-date: book shows and talks; that is, face-to-face.
Describe your desk
My 'writing desk' is my netbook Nichole5 on the table in our dining room. Ordered.
My 'editing desk' is my desktop Horo in my study/computer room. Cluttered.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My formative years were spent in Texas, Utah, Oregon, Texas, and Arizona. I learned regional cultures & dialects, local terrain & climates, and an abiding appreciation that we are NOT "all alike."
When did you first start writing?
As alluded to in an earlier question, in January of 2012, I played the visual novel, Katawa Shoujo. It's very good and I recommend it. Still, the fact that a group of talented amateurs could put together something like that prayed on my mind. In August, I texted an artistic friend and wrote, "We should make a visual novel." His reply, "OK. What's a visual novel?" was the beginning. I taught myself to both write and code. By January, we'd an 8000-word demo. Six months later, an 80,000 word story with four main characters, a score secondary characters, music, sound effects, and animation.

My life has not been the same, since.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I like to push myself. My third book was a childrens' early reader. I tried - and failed - to write a political espionage thriller. I dusted off a month's old horror short story (again, something I'd not tried) and thought I could add a romantic element and make a novel. I did.

'Cursed Hearts' is about two college students who fall in love. As it is set in my world of Machine Civilization, it means the US they live in has fallen apart: their city of San Diego is occupied by Mexico. Further, the protagonist, Chris, is also an experimental cyborg. The bad news is that Chris' sister, Maya, is too, and will murder anyone she sees getting between her and her brother. "Hijinks ensue," as they say.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The fact that I can.
If I tried this as recently as ten years ago, I'd still be snail-mailing photocopies of my manuscript from publisher to publisher, hoping for a bite.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has a wonderfully simple upload and conversion system for all e-book formats. It's not perfect - I struggled a few hours with the 'table of contents' issue, but in an afternoon, my book was available. What a world we live in!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Seeing new people. Getting to know them. Sharing them with you.
It's remarkable similar to raising my children.
What do your fans mean to you?
Feedback, positive or negative. Every single word I'm told makes me a better writer.
What are you working on next?
Tentatively entitled 'Defiant,' also set in Machine Civilization, Nichole5 arrives in the city of Portland, former State of Oregon, ostensibly as a college student, but with a deeper mission. Within two days she finds herself not only with many new friends, but drawn into a maelstrom of wars as the nascent city-state tries to keep itself alive amidst the horror of the Breakup.

The writing is complete and I'll be looking for a line-editor presently.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Colleen McCullough, David McCullough, CS Lewis, Thomas Cahill, Winston Churchill, to name just a few.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My paycheck.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I've an okay day-job for 40 hours per week. I have a wife, kids, house: the whole catastrophe. Writing is what I do when not seeing to these other things.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Again, I don't ebook; sorry.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes: my visual novel, OTChi Kocchi. Which is still available both on Amazon and its own website:
Published 2018-01-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Cursed Hearts
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 74,940. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
Katarina pursues her college degree, welcoming her step-cousin from Japan, Chris, for a night so he can complete his enrollment. Chris’s younger sister, Maya, murders their mother and escapes Neuroi Institute that created them. While Chris and ‘Cat’ grow closer to one another, Maya inexorably crosses an ocean and half a continent to take back her brother, killing anyone who gets in her way.
Echoes of Family Lost
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 57,570. Language: American English. Published: July 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
After believing her older sister lost and dead in the Breakup of the US, Lily Barrett gets word that Callie is alive: but over 900 miles away. Lily puts together a small team to reach her. It’s a long way to go, with something very odd hindering their ability to communicate over distance or even cross bridges. A chance meeting in Huntsville wrecks their plans, and puts all of their lives at risk.
The Fourth Law
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 55,450. Language: American English. Published: July 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
(4.00 from 1 review)
Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time for the US with her family missing and presumed dead. Two things keep her going: her job at a small orphanage and Ai, her odd but dear friend, whom she met online: who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image. Troubled by her past and facing an uncertain future, Lily seeks only a quiet, normal life. But, her past and present conspire against her.