Tuesday, July 2, 2013

10 Questions with Thriller Writer Chuck Barrett (@Chuck_Barrett)

This Author Spotlight

Chuck Barrett

Bestselling author
of award-winning thrillers

Chuck Barrett is the bestselling author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series. Breach of Power—Winner of the 2013 Indie Excellence Award Political Thriller category and Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category, The Toymaker—Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure & Mystery/Suspense categories, and The Savannah Project—Finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category, Second Place in the 2011 Reviewers Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Horror category, and Honorable Mention in the 2011 ForeWord Reviews Book-Of-The-Year Awards Thriller/Suspense category.

Barrett is a Florida native and a graduate of Auburn University. He is a retired air traffic controller with over 26 years experience and veteran commercial pilot & flight instructor spanning over three decades of flight experience.

Chuck also holds Dive Master and Rescue Diver certifications. He enjoys hiking in the Rockies with his wife, Debi and currently resides in Northeast Florida.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I started writing in 1998 at the age of 41. I can't really explain why I started…I guess it's for the same reason I write….I felt like I needed to write or better yet—had to write. We all feel the need to express ourselves and writing is how I chose to do it.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

Easy question—the best thing about writing is when the story takes off. Almost as if my fingers were telling the story. And so many times I'm bewildered afterwards as to how the story got there. But I love it. I reread it and wonder if I really wrote it. I've heard it said and I'm in total agreement…writing the story is the easy part. After the story is written, the real work begins!

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

Book one, The Savannah Project, I outlined meticulously and stuck mostly to the outline while writing the story. Book two, The Toymaker, I wrote from the cuff. All I knew when I started writing was where the story started and where it ended. Everything in between was written by the seat of my pants. But the story was a little disorganized and I had to do a lot of editing that I could have prevented with an outline. So for book three, Breach of Power, I combined them. I didn't outline or write freestyle, after roughly 50 pages or so, I plotted the story a few chapters ahead of my writing. Just short plot notes really, certainly not an outline. And that worked great for me.

Daily routines? What's that? I write when I'm in the mood or when the creativity seems to be flowing. I don't have a minimum or a maximum page/word count when I write. Usually though when I'm ready for a new story, I write in marathon sessions, completely tuning the world out. If I'm not writing, I'm working on the business side or reading. If I'm in the prose writing stage of a project and the creativity isn't there…or my words feel or sound stilted, I stop writing and read. Reading almost always gets the juices flowing again. It's not writer's block, just….oh, what's that word again?

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I have my favorites that I always read, thriller writers of course: David Baldacci, Dan Brown (just finished Inferno), Lee Child, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Steve Berry, and the list goes on. I also read Meg Gardiner, Pan Callow, Richard C Hale, and a few others.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I was a poor English student in school but I'd have to say outside. But then again, I'm not sure I really care.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

A comma between the final items in a list, often preceding the word 'and' or 'or.' Of course, I had to go look it up online…thank you Dictionary.com.

7.What is your book Breach of Power about and how did it come to fruition?

Breach of Power is the 3rd in the Jake Pendleton series. It's the first book where my character, Jake, is a fully fleshed-out character possessing the skills he needs to carry the series. It is also a standalone story so there is no need to read the previous two in order to thoroughly enjoy Breach of Power. As a matter of fact, I've been recommending readers start with Breach of Power because I'm certain when they finish, they'll want to read the others.

Jake starts Breach of Power with those learned skills and uses them to track down a book lost in Germany during World War II. Along the way, he discovers others are searching for the book as well, but they're prepared to kill to get to it first.

The story came together from news clippings. A story about human remains found inside a glacier started the ball rolling. Another article about the mismarking of many graves in the Arlington National Cemetery allowed me to weave a story with lots of twists the reader will never see coming.

8.What’s your current writing project?

Just uploaded a non-fiction book about independent publishing geared toward helping authors make those difficult decisions about publishing and offering an option they might not have previously considered. The book is called Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide to Independent Publishing.

My fiction project is another thriller. It is the first book in a new series. The main character of the new series is an old character from a previous Jake Pendleton book.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

As I mentioned earlier, I just finished Dan Brown's newest and hottest Inferno. Tonight I'll start on David Baldacci's The Forgotten. I'll also be reviewing another author's manuscript—a paranormal thriller.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Credit where credit is due. I owe a lot to Steve Berry who was the first author to read my first manuscript. His inspiration has kept me motivated in writing, learning the craft, and focused on future writings.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I'm not sure where I heard or read it first, but a few words I think every writer should pay attention to:

Read more than you write, listen more than you talk.

My books are available in most formats…not audio books yet. And, of course, Amazon has them all. The best bet for readers is to go to my website, http://chuckbarrettbooks.com and take a look. On the individual book pages on my website are links to the direct pages to buy that book, ie, 'Kindle' link for Amazon Kindle page for that book. Nook, Kobo, print…you get the picture. There are also links to my Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

Thank you, Chuck. Breach of Power looks fantastic, as do all your books. Thank you for the words of wisdom, too. Great and sound advice.

Be sure to visit Chuck's website and follow him on Twitter to stay up to date on his latest book news.

You can also grab a Kindle/Print copy of his books at the Amazon links below:



  1. What a good interview. I definitely want to check out this author's work now.

  2. Chuck, I promise to pick up The Toymaker when I finish the book I'm reading now. Gotta see if you are a better writer than you were a quarterback... Steve Clay

  3. Steve...I hope I'm a better writer since I never was a quarterback...literally. Perhaps a case of mistaken identity? May I suggest you start with Breach of Power instead of The Toymaker? The Toymaker is kind of a sequel to The Savannah Project which I always suggest readers read prior to The Toymaker but Breach of Power is stand alone and has some killer twists. I'm confident that if you start with Breach of Power, you'll be compelled to go back and read the first two! :-)

  4. Will do. Sorry about the mistaken identity. I once blocked for a Chuck Barrett in high school, and you sort of resemble him.

    I downloaded The Toymaker for free awhile back, but I will buy Breach of Power on your recommendation and start there. Thank you!