Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Interview with David Barker, author of Blue Gold

Today the Speculative Fiction Showcase are delighted to interview David Barker, author of forthcoming post-apocalyptic novel Blue Gold.

Is this your first attempt at writing a book or do you have any drawer novels or shorts hidden away – or published?
It’s my first try. This story seemed to stick with me until I got it right.

Why have you chosen to write about a war over water?
It combines two of the most important issues of our age: climate change and geopolitical tension. The United Nations and the US National Intelligence Council have already warned of the growing risk of a conflict over water resources in the next 2-3 decades.

You describe yourself as a part-time economist. What does a part-time economist do, and does it have any impact on your writing?
I try to predict the future: figuring out how the global economy will evolve is a key aspect of my job. Those ideas helped shape the world that became the setting for Blue Gold. The company I work for has been kind enough to let me work part-time while I prepare for the book launch and crack on with the first draft of its sequel.

What, if any, science fiction authors have influenced you?
Lots, but three in particular: Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams and Arthur C Clarke. Herbert’s Dune, set on a planet without rain, was a huge inspiration for me, and I suspect a lot of other writers over the years. It’s 50 years old and still fresh!

Tell us about the Faber Academy course – how did you learn about it and did you find it useful?
My wife knew SJ Watson when he was an audiologist and when his first novel became an international bestseller, we knew the course must be good! It was exactly what I needed, teaching me about the pitfalls to avoid when writing fiction and some of the subtler ways to make a story appeal to the reader. The support of my tutor and fellow students was fantastic and still continues three years after the course finished.

Environmentalism is clearly important to you. It often seems to underlie much post-apocalyptic science-fiction. Is this significant?
I think we all get a little bit scared contemplating the consequences of climate change, but it’s easier to imagine that future if it’s the setting for a gripping thriller. Maybe if enough authors write stories about a dark future, we’ll learn to appreciate and look after the planet better.

You are clearly a supporter of local bookstores and libraries. Why are these important, to you – and to everyone else?
Libraries are a fantastic way for people to immerse themselves in all sorts of books at very little cost. Given my daughter’s ability to finish a 400-page book in a couple of days, that seems quite important to me! I love browsing bookstores in a way that doesn’t work online, and my local store runs a great sci-fi and fantasy book club that I attend every month.

Do you use Scrivener or Word? Or pen and paper?
Word, but I always carry a note pad and pen with me to scribble down ideas on my current novel or future projects before I forget them.

Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?
Embarrassing to admit as an author writing about the future, but I am a bit of Luddite. I had fun stripping away some technology in the setting for Blue Gold.

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
Definitely. I owned a ZX Spectrum in the early 1980s, fell in love with Lara Croft during the 1990s and discovered MMORPGs in the noughties. Unfortunately writing takes up most of my spare time these days, so I had to find a way to break my addiction.

Do you have your own office, study or writing space, or can you write in a cafe or the library?
I’m lucky enough to have my own study at home. But I did write quite a lot of Blue Gold’s first draft on a train – commuting home from work in the evenings.

If you were marooned on a desert island and could take just seven books, what would you choose?
Dune, Lord of the Rings, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and two graphic novels: Sandman by Neil Gaiman and Watchmen by Alan Moore.

What writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Douglas Adams. He was a genius and a polymath.

If you could have any director to shoot the film of your book, who would you choose?
There are so many talented young directors that I don’t know well enough to answer. But James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, delivered a great combination of action and humour; something that I tried to do in Blue Gold.

How would you define Speculative Fiction?
Blimey, you’ve saved the toughest question until last. I think of speculative fiction as the stories that are created when a writer asks him or herself a ‘what if’ question and lets the answer stretch reality in new and exciting ways. (Sorry if that sounds a bit derivative of the quote in your website’s header – I must have sub-consciously memorised it!)

Blue Gold will be released on May 11, 2017: it is available for pre-order from Amazon here.

About David Barker:


David lives with his wife, daughter and three pet rats in Royal Berkshire, England. When not working, David likes to play tennis, surf, read books and watch films.

web-site | Twitter @BlueGold201

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