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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Author Interview: Barry Finlay

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 79th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the just call him maybe, Barry Finlay, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Barry:  I prefer to write in the early morning, starting around 6:30 am. My ritual is pretty simple. Turn on computer. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Write. I only write if the mood strikes me, although I find that sometimes even if I’m not particularly motivated, once I have opened the page the words start to come.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Barry:  I can’t say that I have a favorite author as I like to read all types of books by an assortment of writers and have been inspired by many. But I admire the fiction writer who can capture the reader’s attention in the first few sentences and keep it throughout, building the tension as the story moves along. I am fascinated by the well written nonfiction book describing a challenge that someone overcame or that inspires me to do something that I wouldn’t have otherwise done.   

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Barry:  They would probably see a struggle underway between the left and right sides of my brain. I’m a professional accountant dabbling in the arts so I suspect the numbers would be battling the pen for domination.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Barry:  I’m in the happy place of being sort of retired. When I was working full time, I found the time to do some creative things by stealing an hour or two at night. It’s much easier now and that is why I was able to finish my first book and get it published in a relatively short period of time. I know how difficult it must be for writers who have small children. The creative process requires some down time.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Barry:  I have Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” on my iPod!

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Barry:  My books have been nonfiction so far so I am writing what I lived. I didn’t feel the need to plot them, although once I had written them, I had to rearrange them to improve the flow. I’m in the very early stages of a fiction story and I’m jotting down characters, character traits, storyline ideas, locales, etc, as I think of them. I’m not sure that is plotting the story per se. They are one line reminders to me to work them into the manuscript.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Barry:  I like to think I write fairly well, but I always hire a professional editor and my books have been better as a result. The editor shouldn’t just be looking for typos. They should be looking for grammatical issues and flow and suggesting areas that require more or less detail, finding areas of redundancy, etc. A second set of eyes is invaluable.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Barry:  My book, I Guess We Missed The Boat is with my editor now. It’s a travel memoir focusing primarily on the humorous side of our travels. My in-laws are featured prominently throughout the book as we often travel together. There is also a message regarding how fortunate we are to have been born where we were and to be living where we do.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Barry:  I enjoyed the experience of writing my first book, Kilimanjaro and Beyond and wanted to write another. Because something humorous happens every time we travel, the subject seemed to be a natural. Since I started, a number of people have commented that we need more humor in our lives in these troubled times so I am hopeful that people will enjoy it.

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Barry:  I have entered competitions with Writers Digest, Reader Views, Eric Hoffer and The Authors Show. I would recommend the last three because I was successful. Haha! I think the title of “Award Winning Author” helps with marketing and would recommend to authors that they enter as many as they can.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Barry:  I have found that writing is a small part of the process. To sell books beyond their circle of friends and acquaintances, the author has to be prepared to spend a lot of time on social media, at book shows and making appearances wherever possible. I’m on the computer every day doing some marketing. It has to be selective though. Marketing to other authors may not sell many books since they may not necessarily have time to read. You have to market to readers.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

Barry:  When I’m not writing, I’m organizing events to raise money to help the children and young women of Tanzania, Africa. A portion of the proceeds of my first book goes towards our projects. I also spend time enjoying our three grandchildren, playing golf and trying to keep myself physically fit. The time seems to fly by.

Paul:  Thanks, Barry, that was very interesting. I wish you every success for the future.

About Barry Finlay: Barry Finlay “retired” in 2004, after thirty two years with the Canadian federal government. He is a professional accountant who dabbles in the arts as he is also an award winning decorative wood carver. Since retiring, he has divided his time between writing, working as a consultant, travel, playing golf, climbing mountains, philanthropy and enjoying his three grandchildren.

The experience of climbing Africa’s highest mountain at age 60 with one of his sons, and discovering the satisfaction of reaching a goal and giving others the opportunity to achieve theirs, was a book waiting to be written. Kilimanjaro and Beyond, written with input from his son Chris, has won numerous awards and Barry is one of the Author Show’s “50 Great Writers You Should be Reading.”

Barry is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal for his philanthropic work in Africa. He lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Barry's Blog: Keep On Climbing
Barry on Twitter: @Karver2
Barry on Facebook: Barry Finlay
Barry's latest book: Kilimanjaro and Beyond (Amazon)

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