Q & A with Barry Smith

Why did you decide to write your book?

In the course of an aid assignment in Vanuatu, I was confined to my non-airconditioned hotel room for a whole weekend of monsoonal rain, temperatures over 30c and so humid, water ran down the walls. To pass the time I began to write and in my mind’s eye, instead of steamy tropical climes, I saw a communist demagogue haranguing a crowd of workers in the dark, cold, rainy streets of industrial Manchester on the eve of World War One.

This is how For Freedom’s Cause, the first novel in my Kimberley Trilogy got started.

Who/what inspired you to write?

Reading was the magic carpet that carried me from back street Manchester, via North Manchester Grammar School to Cambridge University and on into a different life in a different world. I have read so much since then that my inner reservoir of words overflowed the dam wall and poured forth as books.

What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

When the characters I had created started to speak for themselves and took charge of the action and created a story I had not conceived alone and which appeared both interesting and exciting. When I held the first copy of a real book in my hand which bore my name as author I had fulfilled a lifetime dream.

What are your top tips for writing a book?

Follow your dreams and write what your inner voices tell you. Ignore all the proscriptions and prescriptions that writing experts proclaim. In due course, reality in the shape of editors, agents and publishers (if you are lucky enough to complete their obstacle course) will pour on plenty of commercial cold water to dampen your ardour. But by then you have a book and it’s yours. If the publishers don’t take you on, never give up, self-publish and be damned!

Which books/authors have inspired you?

John Buchan, Neville Shute, Len Deighton, Arthur Upfield, Raymond Chandler, Peters Corris and Temple, Henning Mankell, Arturo Perez-Reverte.    

Why did you decide to self publish?

By temperament I am a dreamer who follows my own star. I wasted a year pursuing the formal publishing supplication process and as I was playing desperately into my final quarter, I had no intention of holding out for the uncertain prospect of posthumous publication.

What do you hope your readers get out of your book?

Enjoyment. Excitement. Distraction from the stresses of the workaday world. A better appreciation of the impact of the world wars on urban and country Australians, especially the contemporary inhabitants of the magical Kimberley wilderness.

Would you consider writing another book?

I have written and self-published the first two novels of an Australian historical, romantic, adventure trilogy. I am working on the third and may then turn to a book entitled Victoria’s Twins, about the complementary characteristics/histories of the two great Victorian boom cities, Manchester, where I was born, and Melbourne, where I live. 

Do you have any other tips for new authors (i.e. book launch, research, marketing, etc.)

My answers would be too voluminous to include here but you will find an account of how I have tackled these challenges in my author’s blog on the Palmer Higgs website.