Interview with Barry Miller

What compelled you to be a writer?
I don't know really. I think writers are cursed but in a good way. When I was around 14 I had this urge to write a story so I sat down and wrote one. When I finished I felt like I had reached out to the world and said, "Here I am!" I felt good. I wanted to do it again. In high school I took a class taught by Mr. Max Sedam, who was a great inspiration to me. It was a Creative Writing class. He made writing real to me, like this was something I could do. I felt the same way when I played drums for the first time. I could do this! The first time I played with the Swing Band in front of the high school convocation my identity was set. I was a drummer. I have been writing and drumming all of my life.
How do you feel when you play the drums, compared to when you write?
Playing drums with a band is always fun. You see people smile, and dance when the music hits them. Sharing that experience with other musicians can't be duplicated. I get instant gratification from playing music. Writing on the other hand is the loneliest thing you can ever hope to do. When you finish a book or story there is no instant feedback, other than from your editor if you have one. Many times that feedback is not very pleasant when it does come! Having said that, when I am not writing I get cranky, I get a little edgy. I feel that blank piece of paper or that computer screen calling to me. I recently read a book called Still Writing, by Dani Shapiro. She describes the same feeling so she reinforced what I have always felt. I think most writers feel very incomplete when they are not creating. It is in our blood, whatever IT is.
Why do you write and how do you write?
Well as I have said, I write because I have to. It took me a long time to realize that fact. Writing is a big part of who I am. Many of my friends think I am the most extroverted person around and that is true for some of the time. But, I need that quiet time at my desk creating my little worlds. Some days it is not fun; but when you get a chapter the way you want, or when you finish a book, there is no other feeling like that in the world To answer the second part of the question I have a goal of 1000 words a day. I read in an article that Elmore Leonard always wrote 1000 words a day. That is a good day! I mostly work in the afternoon for about three hours or more. When the words are flowing I will go longer. Now, I am not saying that it is always good stuff. Many times that 1000 words a day will be rewrite.
What do you read?
I am all around the place. I read Elmore Leonard for his dialogue and the economic way he tells a story. I read Stephen King but not as much as I used to. His writing and storytelling sometimes gets in the way of my own writing because he is so damned good. He makes me very jealous. I read James Lee Burke for the way he sets the mood of a scene. His characters are always strong. When I was younger I read Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer.I am currently reading Catcher In the Rye for the second time. I started that book back in 1963 in a dorm room! Salinger is so good with his dialogue. I read a lot of WWII history and I get story ideas from it. Having said that, I've read Dispatches by Michael Herr five times. He paints a very vivid picture of Vietnam in his book. It is like reading the lyrics of a rock and roll song.
What have you written?
In the 80's I wrote short stories mostly for my own enjoyment. I wrote two novels in the 80's, mostly to see if I could do it. It's kind of like running a marathon, once you do the first one, the second one is not quite so formidable. My third novel I wrote in the mid 90's, when I was on the road as a sales rep. I let my wife read it and she wasn't too impressed. It had some problems with plot, and it wasn't very good. My fourth novel, THE LIFE OF KID GRAYSON, came to me when I was driving down the interstate. I pretty much had the complete novel in my head before I started it. It takes place in the 60's. It is about a young guitar player who is very gifted, but his life is very complicated. I ask some musicians to read it and they encouraged me to publish it. When I completed the book I found out about SMASHWORDS then took the big step and put the book out there.
How did you feel when you published that book?
Well going back to the extrovert-introvert topic, I think most writers are pretty much introverts, who have to become extroverts. Let me explain. We spend hours writing these books and stories. These characters become a part of us. Then we find we have to let go of them. When you have that book published you are letting people see inside your little messed up mind. I am only speaking for myself here of course! When I pressed that PUBLISH button believe me I had some stage fright. I was sharing with the world something that had always been very private to me. After the book comes out you have to promote it of course. That is where the extroverted fun comes in. I had a friend who read my book say to me that he had no idea I was that messed up! People don't understand what is fact and what is fiction when you let those words come out of your brain.
Describe your desk
It is messy. My computer screen sits in the right corner, the driver sits on the left corner with keyboard angled to the right. My desk is from an old office building. It has a four inch Formica top and chrome legs, and one of the legs is bent from when we moved the desk into my basement. It is huge. It is covered with books and models. When I write I can see a 1:18 model of a Lotus Indy Racer and a 1:18 scale model of an orange 911 Porsche. I have a framed 29 cent stamp of Otis Redding sitting to the right of the Porsche. I have two desk lamps because I like a well lighted desk because I am getting older! In front of me, between the Porsche and myself sits a model of a 1939 Buick convertible. A picture of the Buick is the main heading pic on my web site.Oh and there are two small speakers sitting on each side of the display case for the Indy Racer. I like to listen to music when I write.
What are you working on right now?
I am finishing the sequel to THE LIFE OF KID GRAYSON. The new book is called THE NHA TRANG ALBUM. I hope to have it polished and published very soon. My goal is Feb or March of this year, 2014. When I have time I am developing a book about a young man who grows up in the Mafia. He kind of sprang out of the Nha Trang book.
Any advice for new writers or your fellow writers out there?
Hey I am an old writer in age, but very new to the business. I can only offer this: Sit your butt down in the chair and write. Keep doing it till you get it right or when you think you've gotten it right. Don't be afraid to use the pain along with the good things that have happened in your life. Put words on the page and put them down everyday. Write!
Since we last talked to you you have published THE NHA TRANG ALBUM. any comments about that book?
I had to complete that character Kid Grayson .NHA TRANG is the sequel to THE LIFE OF KID GRAYSON. Kid Grayson was fun to develop and build a story around, but he was such a flawed young man. I really didn't know what was going to happen in his life until I was half way through the second book. Without giving anything away I took him to the place he needed to go. Many may disagree with that, but there it is.
That brings my next question. Do you write to sell a lot of books or do you write for yourself?
Well I think that goes back to why writers write. There is that voice that says, You must write today. Write something! That voice doesn't say: You must sell books! It says, write you coward. Sit down and write! So that is what I do. Now if you are Stephen King or maybe James Lee Burke they may ask the question, "If I write this will it sell?" They have that right I guess. They have a market for their books. I am still a new guy on the stage so to speak. I write because I enjoy the process and if I don't write I get hard to be around. As my daughter says, The Little Bastard comes out!"
On your Facebook page you said you were working on a new novel. Care to share?
I was actually working on two novels! I was working on a gritty, Mafia type story based on a character from THE NHA TRANG ALBUM. But this new idea came into my head. I had to act on it. My new book is a turn around for me. It would probably be labeled Young Adult. No hard language, no violence, maybe a little. It is my WHAT IF book. Once I asked that question... What if this happened? Bam! We were off. It takes place in the early 60's, right before the Beatles hit our shores and the Red Scare was still on people's minds We have two young kids who can time travel. I found when you write about Time Travel, you can write about anything, anywhere, and yes anytime .It appeals to my love of history and I hope that people can learn from the book and have some fun too. I had a lot of fun writing it. It is finished and now I am in the editing stage which I hate! The title is THE HOT ROD HEAD.
The second book involves a character that has a well built frame. By that, I mean he has many problems, like head problems, love problems, things like that. I like characters like that. But with this book I am going to that dark place again. Back to the violence, colorful language, people getting knocked off, that sort of thing. I am not sure if I want to go there again for a while. KID GRAYSON, and NHA TRANG got pretty dark in places. I kind of like the fun stuff right now.
Well we will be looking forward to the new book.
Thank you. THE HOT ROD HEAD. Does that sound too dark?
Since your last interview you have published four new books on Smashwords. Care to share some information about those books?
I believe the last book we discussed was THE NHA TRANG ALBUM. I was working on a book based on a character from that book. I kind of hit a dead end, so I started a book about a kid who had a very vivid imagination that was to be called THE HOT ROD KID. Well that book became TIME FLASHERS. Then shortly after that, I discovered a book that I had written years before I published on Smashwords. I did some rework on it, and that book was THE ROADS OF RINDT. That piece is about WWII and the struggles of an American pilot/ race car driver, who becomes involved with a young girl from Austria who is running from the Nazis. And of course my last book, which was just published TIME RUNNERS, which is the sequel to TIME FLASHERS. So now I have five! I never thought I would get through the first one!
You seem to have many plots revolve around WWII. Why does that era interest you so much?
Well first of all there are so many plots that can come from that time. Plus that struggle changed the world as we know it now. It also fascinates me and perplexes me if that is the correct word to use, that one man, Hitler, could rule over a country and become so powerful. His power was based on fear, prejudice, and pure evil. We must learn from that and I am not sure we have, based on what is happening now in the world. And the idea of war. I think I am fascinated by it, and at the same time repulsed by it. It is a strange brew!
So what is next?
I am working on a western this time. The book will tell of the border war between Kansas and Missouri at the end of the Civil War and beyond. There will actually be two plots, two narratives, one during the actual war, and another will tell of a movie being made from the book in the book! THE LAST RIDERS is the title. I am very excited about this one, because first of all it is very ambitious for me at least. Second of all there are so many characters that I want to put in this book. I will eventually have to edit it down a bit. I hope to have it ready by the fall. Crossed fingers!
Published 2018-05-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Time Runners
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 52,710. Language: English. Published: May 7, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Time Runners is the second installment of the Time Flasher series. Chad and Maria, two kids from Indiana who have the gifts of being able to travel back in time are trapped in war torn Germany in 1945. In their search for Chad's father they are involved in an incident that brings the Nazi army patrols down on them. They find that getting back to 1963 becomes very complicated and dangerous.
The Roads of Rindt
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,980. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
The world is on the edge of war in 1939. Jimmy Rindt, a rich young daredevil with a questionable past is about to race in the French Grand Prix in his Alfa Romeo. He meets and falls in love with Anni, a young woman running from the Nazis. From their first moment together Jimmy and Anni will be consumed by the war. Each road they take may be the last one.
Time Flashers
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 64,750. Language: English. Published: March 11, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
May 1963,Chad Allison aged 15 sits in history class writing an essay on Genghis Khan. Suddenly he is transported to the tundra sitting on a small pony with Genghis himself staring at him. This is Chad's first FLASH. Maria Oligano is Chad's girlfriend. She too is a Traveler. Together they will travel in time and they will find that their gifts allow them to see life at its best and its worst.
The Nha Trang Album
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 40,240. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
This is the sequel and final chapter of The Life of Kid Grayson. Just returned from Nam, Grayson Mayfield or Kid Grayson as he is known to many, is about to become a legend in the music business. He may not survive to see his fame because of the demons that haunt him and men that want him dead.
The Life of Kid Grayson
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 75,400. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Kid Grayson Mayfield is gifted by God with a talent that will either kill or save him from his tormented soul. He will kill a man before he is 18. He will play guitar with Jimi Hendrix, be hunted by Viet Cong guerrillas and be stalked by a corrupt lawman. His wars may never be over.