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.