Greg Barron is author of novels Rotten Gods, Savage Tide and Lethal Sky, as well as a digital novelette Voodoo Dawn. He says he grew up reading Alistair MacLean, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith and John Le Carre.
Greg Barron found it difficult to get published, but after 10 long years he had an agent, a publishing deal with HarperCollins and was classified as a thriller writer. “I never saw myself as a thriller writer, and it took me a long time to get published, more than 10 years before I found a publisher. I wrote in several genres during that time, but I always wanted to write page-turners.
“I’ve always struggled a little bit with the genre tag, I always wanted to be a mainstream writer in a way, I wanted to write books that everyone could read and not try and limit it. I think being put into a genre is partly a publishing thing. Bookshelves like it, the publishers like it, they know exactly how to market you, they know exactly your placement in the market, so they like to give you a tag and for you to continue to produce in that genre.”
FINDING AN AGENT
Greg talks about how he finally found his agent. “It took me five years to get an agent and, during the next five years, when he helped me towards publication, he helped me to understand that what I was writing loosely fitted into the thriller genre. When I did finally get a contract from HarperCollins and they picked up the first of what has ultimately become a three-book series, Rotten Gods, they said to me, ‘What are you working on now?’ This was in the boardroom at the HarperCollin’s office down in Sydney.
“I had everyone from the head of publishing down sitting around the table. They said, ‘Well, what are you working on now?’ I said, ‘I’m writing a book it’s set partly in ancient Egypt and partly in…’ They cut me off and they said, ‘What about writing two more of these? Can you give us something with these same characters in a similar world and basically give us three thrillers just like this one?’ I said, ‘Of course’.”
Greg says it’s vital to have a strong main character. “I would choose a strong character, a strong main character, a strong supporting character, often of the opposite sex, but not necessarily, a mentor type character. Then I would think up some really good obstacles to them preventing the catastrophe that you’ve already thought of. It’s all about those obstacles, it’s all about not letting it be easy for your protagonist to save the day.”
GREG’S TIP: MAKE SURE THE STAKES ARE HIGH
“Think of a really strong concept with high stakes, so start with a really strong idea — an asteroid is going to hit the Earth, or these creatures are going to crawl out of the sea and take over the world, something that’s strong and catastrophic is probably a good start. Catastrophic is a little bit extreme, but, if it is, so much the better.”
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