Wednesday 15 February 2012

Barry Graham interview: When It All Comes Down To Dust

When It All Comes Down To Dust by Barry Graham
£2.59 | $3.99 | $3.99 | $12
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Smashwords | Paperback

Barry Graham is an award-winning novelist, journalist and Zen teacher. He is the author of ten books, including his most recent, When It All Comes Down to Dust. Born and dragged up in Glasgow, Scotland, he currently lives in the urban war zone of Phoenix, Arizona.
Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words? 

A neo-noir tale of love, sex and murder in which a woman confronts a man who did unspeakable things to children – including her.
What's unique about it?
Without giving anything away, I’ll say that the characters, the situation and the way it turns out all combine to make it a book that’s unlike anything else you’ve ever read. All my other books have been preparation for writing this one. The French magazine Transfuge called it “one of the great post-realist novels” - and it hasn’t even been published in French yet!
What have you done/are you doing to market it?
Sending out press releases, appearing at book festivals and various venues where I’ll recite chunks of it from memory. Posting on social media, and mentioning it on my blog and website. Asking bloggers to review it.
What are your expectations for the book?
I’m not sure, but I’m fascinated to find out how it does. I walked away from a likely offer from a major publisher, because I sincerely think this is a great book, and I got tired of waiting for them to decide what to do about it. Responses from readers so far suggest that I’m right.
What did you learn while writing it?
That when I looked in the darkest and most frightening places I could imagine, what I found there was compassion.
Do you bear the reader in mind when you're writing? If so, how does that affect the way you write?
Never. I don’t write for the reader, and I don’t write for myself - I just write. I write at the service of the story. When the story is as good as it can be, I thank it for what it taught me, and then I put it out there and let it find its readers.
How important is talent?
Considering the amount of drivel that’s published by the big houses, I’d say talent isn’t important at all when it comes to getting a deal with them. When it comes to writing a good book, I think some talent is necessary, but work and perseverance and honesty are more important.
Provide a YouTube link to a song you'd like to be the title track to the movie adaptation of your book.
Western Wind by The Heroes Are Horses
Who would you like to direct the film adaptation?
Jean-Luc Godard.
To what extent do you view writing as a business?
I view writing entirely as an art, and I view publishing entirely as a business. I write for love, and publish for money.
How would you describe your taste in books?
Very broad. I read everything from pulp crime to critical theory to history to philosophy to Japanese and Chinese poetry.
What was the last good eBook you read?
Your novel Slammer. But, to be honest, I don’t think it’s a good book. I think it’s a terrific book.
What are you reading now?
Black Hornet by James Sallis. A weird, brilliant novel.
Which writer do you most admire?
That’s a tie between Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jean-Patrick Manchette and Nakagami Kenji. When it comes to living writers, it’s a tie between Daniel Woodrell, Larry Fondation and Elmore Leonard. In nonfiction, Michel Foucault. He’s probably influenced how I write and think more than any other.
What do you do when you're not writing?
Practice and teach Zen Buddhism, read, watch films, cook, hang out with my girlfriend and our cats, watch boxing, go and hear live music, wander around Phoenix, Arizona while carefully watching my back.
How much do you read?
At least two books a week, usually more. I don’t watch TV at all.
How much time do you dedicate to writing? How much time would you like to spend writing?
I write every day. My fiction and my blogging probably add up to eight or ten hours a day. I’m satisfied with that amount.
How much time do you dedicate to promotion?
I’m not sure. I use Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus almost every day, and I send out mass emails letting people on my list know what I’m doing. I blog every day, and have a lot of readers, though I’m not sure how that impacts book sales, or even if it does. I also do performances of my work just about anywhere they’ll have me.
What are your ambitions for the next year?
To finish another novel and publish it, and to publish a collection of my journalism.
What are your long-term ambitions?
To keep writing, be as kind as possible, and see where this life takes me.
Which author should be much better known?
Larry Fondation and Lynne Tillman. 
What's the book you've recommended most to friends?
The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, my favorite novel ever.
Do you write outside of the crime genre? If not, would you like to?
My first novel was a horror novel set in Glasgow My next three weren’t in any genre, though I’d say all of them have a kind of noir atmosphere, and all contain crime and violence. I don’t know how to write about this world without writing crime fiction. I also write poetry and essays.
Where do you write?
In a recliner in a corner of my living room (see photo)
How do you feel about reviews?
Anything that lets people know about a book’s existence is good. I don’t understand writers who get upset about bad reviews - it’s a review of your book, not of you. I’ve bought books after reading bad reviews of them, because the book sounded like my kind of thing. I’ve read good reviews of books and not bought the books, because the book didn’t sound like my kind of thing. I’m grateful for any.
Do you have any other projects on the go?
I’m writing a short novel, a sort of techno-thriller. Then I’ll finish a sequel to When It All Comes Down to Dust. I’m also putting together a collection of talks I’ve given at The Sitting Frog Zen Center, where I serve as Abbot. The next book I publish will probably be my collection of reporting and commentary, Your Doctrines I Must Blame. 
When It All Comes Down To Dust by Barry Graham
£2.59 | $3.99 | $3.99 | $12
Amazon UK | Amazon US | Smashwords |Paperback


  1. Thanks for the plug, Barry. Can't wait to read the book.!/pages/The-Heroes-Are-Horses/176024255835122?sk=app_155326481208883

  2. +1 for the Robbe-Grillet reference. The man was a beast with a pen.