Interview with Ian Barker

Tell us about your latest book.
One Hot Summer is a coming of age story set against the background of the long, hot British summer of 1976. As I was a teenager in that era it’s very much write what you know, though it definitely isn’t an autobiography. No, honestly, it’s not!
Who are your favourite authors?
How long have you got? I always think that being asked to chose a favourite author is like choosing a favourite limb, you’re really quite attached to all of them.
Going back to school, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the few books I’ve revisited and enjoyed as an adult. John LeCarré is a long-term favourite – I started reading his books when I was about 16. I also love Ian Rankin’s books and Andrew Martin’s ‘Jim Stringer’ series. Of writers in a similar genre to mine Nick Hornby clings stubbornly to my shelves when other paperbacks face the charity shop cull as do Jonathan Coe and Hanif Kureishi.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write first, research later. I think I stole that from an Ian Rankin interview but it’s good advice. If you do too much research at the start you not only waste what should be writing time, you also end up including much more than you should and bogging the book down in unnecessary detail.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’ve got a website at where you can find out about my novels and my non-fiction work. You can also read some short stories and some dodgy poetry. My books are on Amazon and Smashwords or you can buy them direct from the publisher at – you’ll find some other incredibly talented authors there too.
Who is you favourite character in your book and why?

You might expect me to choose John, the book’s main character here, since he’s partly me. However my particular favourite in One Hot Summer is the Cartoon Devil, a figment of John’s imagination who acts as a sort of anti-conscience, popping up at inappropriate moments to urge John to do or say the wrong thing, or provide a very un-PC comment on events.

He was great fun to write but also proved to be a useful literary device for getting inside John’s head and exploring his slightly darker thoughts.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

It’s funny and it has characters that, I hope, anyone who has ever been a teenager can relate to. It explores love and loss and the basic insecurities that most of us suffer from time to time. If you’re old enough to remember the 1970s you can wallow in nostalgia too.

For those who remember the line in the movie Shakespeare in Love that every good story should have a dog in it, mine has two just to make sure.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Too long. Because my day job is writing about technology, fiction has to take a back seat. Both of my novels to date have taken about three years or so to write. Although One Hot Summer is my second published novel it was actually the first one I wrote. After collecting a sheaf of rejections it sat in the bottom drawer whilst I wrote Fallen Star. The experience of writing, and ultimately in 2010 publishing, that enabled me to go back to the first book and revise it to make it a much better story.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

I’m currently writing a sequel to my first book. Star Turn takes up Fallen Star’s story around four years on from where that book ended. I thought it might be difficult to pick up again with characters that I last wrote about three or four years ago but it’s surprising how easily you slip back into their thoughts – or they slip back into mine!

Ian Barker
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

Each has its place, though I do think that today people are sometimes too ready to rush into self-publishing with products that aren’t ready which results in disappointment all round. One of the best things about working with a traditional – albeit small – publisher has been having access to a professional editor. Both of my novels are immeasurably better as a result.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever not been one. One of my school reports at the age of about eleven read, “An easy style and interesting ideas.” I’ve always dabbled in writing since leaving school though for a long time it was a sideline to a career in IT.

About ten years ago I moved sideways to work for a computer magazine and never looked back. It’s a shame it took me so long to realise that I could get paid for writing about computers rather than fixing them!



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