Next Big Thing Self-Interview

In case some of you don't know me well, I'm going to break my own rule and post some­thing per­son­al,  a short bio and a self-inter­view which came to my atten­tion from Charles Dodd White and the 'Next Big Thing'. I'm too shy to tag any­one back, though.

Rusty Barnes grew up in rur­al north­ern Appalachia. He received his B.A. from Mans­field Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and his M.F.A. from Emer­son Col­lege. His fic­tion, poet­ry and non-fic­tion have appeared in over a hun­dred fifty jour­nals and antholo­gies. After edit­ing fic­tion for the Bea­con Street Review (now Redi­vider) and Zoetrope All-Sto­ry Extra, he co-found­ed Night Train, a lit­er­ary jour­nal which has been fea­tured in the Boston Globe, The New York Times, and on Nation­al Pub­lic Radio. Sun­ny­out­side Press pub­lished a col­lec­tion of his flash fic­tion, Break­ing it Down, in Novem­ber 2007, and a col­lec­tion of tra­di­tion­al short fic­tion, Most­ly Red­neck, in 2011. In late 2013, Sun­ny­out­side will pub­lish his nov­el, The Reck­on­ing.

What is your work­ing title of your book?

Right now it’s called ‘The Reck­on­ing,’ but it had three or four real­ly bad titles before that: Triplet, Three of a Kind, Youth and Young Man­hood (thanks Kings of Leon!) Richard Nov­el (I was real­ly strug­gling for a title when I first con­ceived this book).

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I remem­ber from my child­hood sev­er­al near-crimes and crimes involv­ing peo­ple I knew well and I nev­er found a way to come to terms with the per­son I thought they were and the per­son they turned out to be. If you sit on a bus with some­one and have water­gun fights you don’t expect 20 years lat­er to read about their involve­ment in killing state troop­ers or run­ning mul­ti­ple meth labs. This book tries to deal with those real­iza­tions in com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances from the real life events.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a mix of lit­er­ary fic­tion and crime fic­tion, I guess. I intend­ed to write a lit­er­ary thriller, and tried to tread both gen­res in doing so. So I suc­ceed­ed, I guess. More word on that when the book has actu­al read­ers, some­time in mid-2013.

Which actors would you choose to play your char­ac­ters in a movie rendition?

Wow. I don’t know. John Hawkes would play a great Lyle Thomp­son. Hawkes was great in Dead­wood and then even bet­ter in Winter’s Bone as Uncle Teardrop. You just knew that guy could whup some ass. Maybe Guy Pearce for Richard’s dad. For Misty, you need a washed-out blonde that can play trashy—pick your poi­son. Lind­sey Lohan? All the rest of the cast are kids, and I don’t know any kid actors, sor­ry to say.

What is the one-sen­tence syn­op­sis of your book?

Richard and his good friends Katie and Dex find an uncon­scious woman nude in the creek; they try to help her and get into a mess of trouble.

Will your book be self-pub­lished or rep­re­sent­ed by an agency?

The Reck­on­ing will be pub­lished in mid-2013 by sun­ny­out­side press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft was writ­ten in three months dur­ing my wife’s last preg­nan­cy. With a young child and two oth­ers, not to men­tion the paral­y­sis I felt hav­ing com­plet­ed a nov­el, which is some­thing I thought I’d nev­er do, it took a lot of time: two years off and on to get var­i­ous things right and to rewrite some stuff so as to avoid law­suits.  I wrote a lot of poems in that down­time, though, so it wasn't a total wash. Then I tried unsuc­cess­ful­ly to get an agent. I’ll nev­er do that again, if I can help it.

What oth­er books would you com­pare this sto­ry to with­in your genre?

Maybe Matthew Jones’s A Sin­gle Shot?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My child­hood. I nev­er found a naked chick in the woods, but I could have.

What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?

Sex, vio­lence, a youngish boy deal­ing with it all pret­ty badly.

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