Webpage interview with Keith Barton
edited: Thursday, January 26, 2006
By A. Keith Barton
Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2002
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Barton discusses how he gets his ideas for his books.
Interview with A. Keith Barton
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: James Deaver, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Stuart Woods, Robin Cook, James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, Greg Rucka, Tess Gerritsen
Q: The Protocol was published in China. How did that come about?
A: My agent, Barbara Harris' son goes to school in China. My novel , Protocol, was part of a 5-book deal with Harris Literary Agency and China. The Chinese are interested in anything American and especially enjoy suspense thrillers, involving espionage, terrorists, and good vs. Evil. With the recent trade agreement with China, you will see a lot more exporting of American art forms to 3 billion people.
Q: Were there any changes you had to make to the Chinese version so that it conforms to Chinese law?
A: None, that I'm aware; the Baijia Publishing House in Shanghai, China did the translation; everything is in Chinese except for the Title and my name. They have the rights for six years to publish in Chinese language only.
Q: How does your work as a clinical psychologist impact your writing?
A: My ideas for getting inside the antagonist's heads come from my clinical imagination. The Protocol draws from my experiences working in psychiatric facilities. Interesting enough, the Protocol was my third book, because I was determined not to be stereotyped as a psychological thriller writer. Camouflage draws from my two years living in Bermuda while my father was stationed there in the navy in 1955. I wanted to concentrate on the island and sensual visual scenery as a backdrop for a mystery thriller. The Reunion was taken from my own experiences in high school, college, ROTC. Many of my ROTC buddies flew F-4s in Nam; however, I was unable to go due to a knee injury. High Rise is a good old fashion detective story and is the most complicated plot of my four books. Scenes were drawn from my college days in Austin.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule?
A: Yes, whenever I have time when I'm not working 40 hours a week as a clinical psychologist in private practice. Typically I write 4-8 pages a day. I just finished my 7th book in the last three years and in the middle of my 8th. All are suspense thrillers.
Q: If you could trade lives with one of your characters, which one would it be and why?
A: Steve Kerns, the protagonist in Camouflage; he is a family man who does the right thing and puts family before job. Of course, I used literary privilege to explore his affair with the Governor's wife. That is definitely not autobiographical, after 34 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart.
Q: You were at UT during the Whitman shooting? How did that affect you?
A: I was a returning sophomore and arrived on campus two weeks after the shooting. The campus was mourning the deaths of twenty-three students and the press was full of stories about Whitman and his psychological profile. For the first time in my life, I felt vulnerable to random shootings, which is more common today. I felt sadness for the families of those killed and when they closed the observation tower at UT.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to write?
A: At 50, having read fiction all my life, I figured I had something to say. I quickly wrote four books in 18 months plus an autobiography. Writing is my therapy and I enjoy it immensely.
Q: 34 years. What's the secret to your marriage success?
A: Hard work and compromise.
Q: What is your current project?
A: The Kauai Connection about the Japanese entry into World War II. The premise is that both Japan and America colluded into drawing Japan into the war. The CIA wants the protagonist extracted to keep the conspiracy theorists at bay.
Q: Anything coming out in the next few months?
A: Yes, The Kauai Connection through iUniverse in about two months.