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Special Interview feature with author Barry Eisler + GIVEAWAY! (part 2)

Submitted by on January 10, 2012 – 7:45 am6 Comments

 Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler’s bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous “Best Of” lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he’s not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

For those of you who have just stumbled upon this post, be sure to catch up on the first portion of this special interview feature with the always charming, incredibly witty, and phenomenal bestselling writer, Barry Eisler.


Interview with Barry Eisler Part 2


Mona: Who or what was your biggest motivator to start writing?

Barry: I always liked writing and I’ve always been writing something or other ever since I was a little kid. I’m not really aware of any external thing that motivated me to write.
Whereas, my parents motivated me to do homework, because I had no motivation to do that on my own, with writing, it was just something I enjoyed and always wanted to do and luckily had enough desire and discipline to pursue. So I really don’t know the answer to the question. There must have been external factors, but I can’t really point to one in particular.

Mona: What author has had the biggest impact on your writing?

Barry: There are some I remember off the top of my head, but there are others I’ll remember later. Stephen King is someone I’ve been reading since I was in about the eighth grade and I really liked his approach to storytelling. I also like the way he described his stories when he would say things like—in his book Danse Macabre, I remember him saying, “I believe that terror is the purest emotion, so I will try to terrify my readers. If I can’t terrify them, I will try to horrify them. And if I can’t horrify them, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”
And I love that about him. It just sounded so honest and so great. I mean, he’s got a three-step process and he’s honest about what he’s doing. He says, “Look, it’s not like I’m curing cancer or something, but it’s a kind of magic I can do that takes people out of their lives and transports them into these other worlds.” He’s just a really talented guy with a nice outlook on his talent and what it brings to the world.
And also, I remember him writing something I love, which is, “The writer’s job is to tell the truth.” I try to emulate and I try to live up to that philosophy of writing.
So, Stephen King stories, Pat Conroy for the beauty of his prose, Andrew Vachss because of his gritty, ambiguous versions of New York and other settings, his ambiguous characters who are really bad people in many ways, and yet, they’re the heroes of the book. T.S. Elliott because I just love that kind of poetry.
My detractors will now say, “Oh, Eisler’s comparing himself to T.S. Elliott,” but that’s okay. These are some people off the top of my head who have inspired me. Judy Blum for writing Forever which I read when I was twelve and it opened my eyes to the possibility of a damn good sex scene.

Mona: What do you read when you just want to get away from it all?

Barry: Unfortunately—well, not unfortunately, because I love it—I read a lot of non-fiction these days. I’m a little out of balance; I should really read a bit more fiction. I’m kind of eclectic. For some reason something will strike my fancy or someone will recommend something.
My friend, Joe Conrath recently recommended a book called The Drunkard’s Walk. It’s a non-fiction book and it’s excellent. I’m listening to it in the car. I really like Ken Follett, and for years, I kept meaning to read Pillars of the Earth. So many people raved about it I knew it had to be some kind of remarkable book.
I finally picked it up, unabridged, on CD, and then the sequel, World Without End. And oh, my God, World Without End was actually a really good book. But Pillars of the Earth, the first one, was like one of those once-in-a-lifetime books. Anything I’m listening to in the car is pretty much whimsical and for relaxation, I guess.

Mona: The old saying goes “write what you know.” What do you do when you don’t know something?

Barry: I think in some ways it’s more important to know what questions to ask than it is to know the answers. Because if you don’t know what questions to ask you can never find your way. And hey, good for you if you already know all the answers—most people don’t—but if you do then you’re all set.
Working off the basic assumption that you’re one of those people who don’t know all the answers, then you better know what questions to ask because that’s a much more basic skill set. Then you can find the right answers. Know what questions to ask and know who to put those questions to and you’ll always be able to find your way.
So, if I don’t know the information, I do some basic online research, try to develop some familiarity with the subject then call up some contacts who I can ask questions of and refine my thinking on certain subjects. To research it more carefully, I actually go to the place and walk around, see it, hear it, smell it for myself. I guess that’s pretty much my method.
But the main thing is to know what to ask and who to ask or where to ask.

Mona: If you really had to have a break for a while—I mean you’re writing all this serious, tense action all the time—and you really had to write something different, what genre would you write?

Barry: Well, in my spare time, I’ve been working on a political book—a nonfiction about why the Democratic Party sucks so badly at communications and how they could do better if they wanted to. Which it’s not clear to me that they want to, actually. There are a lot of reasons that make it clear to me that they don’t.
If I were going to write in another kind of fiction that’s not a thriller, I’d like to write romance. My books are full of romance and explicit sex as it is, so there’s not that bold a line drawn between what’s generally known as romantic suspense, on one hand, and a thriller with a lot of romance in it, on the other. Yeah, it’d be interesting for me to play with some of the genre elements and amp up the relationship with the romance and the sex element and give foreground to that stuff.

Mona: I think you’d do well. (laughs) (Note to our readers – If you’ve read his books, you know what I mean. ;-)

To Be Continued . . .

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Mona's first grade teacher, Mrs. Stanford, gifted her with the love of reading. For that, she'll always live in her heart. But reading took over Mona's life, eclipsing everything but playing sports, and has continued to be a huge part of her life. Although she has always written poetry and stories for her self, last year she decided to try her hand at writing fiction. She is currently editing her first urban fantasy and hopes to have it ready for the agent by summer's end. Besides reading, Mona loves speed in the form of fast cars. The faster, the better! In her next life, she plans to drive race cars (or whatever happens to be their replacement in the future) all while reading and writing. She has also taken up rune reading, and find it to be disturbingly accurate and exciting.
Doll Mona Leigh


  • Doll Day says:

    I really would love to read his political book. I think communication is something everyone is Washington needs to work on and listening skills as well. Seems like the politicians today communicate talking points but not true ideas and solutions and the only voice they can hear is the one they love the sound of most…their own.

    Great interview! Thank you.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Ana Duarte says:

    CIA! Such a fascinating subject! I’d love to read books about it and about other political stuff since we do need to know these things in order to better understand the world we live in =]
    Great interview & giveaway xD

    Reply to this comment »
  • Victoria Zumbrum says:

    Barry you are a new author for me. I would love to read your books. Please enter me in contest.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Mary Preston says:

    I enjoyed the interview thank you. Stephen King is amazing.


    Reply to this comment »
  • Regina Ross says:

    thanks for sharing the interview =)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Carol M says:

    I really enjoy thrillers and would love to read these books!

    Reply to this comment »