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Kat Meets Cowboys #8: An Interview With David P. Barker

David Barker was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and split his formative years between Indiana, Arkansas, and Texas. He graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in History and got his M.A in English. He spent near a decade in his life living and working in California before returning to the Midwest. When he’s not writing, he teaches middle school social studies. He’s an avid video game and board game player. His favorite video game series is the Mass Effect series and his favorite board game is Colt Express — though it changes regularly. He lives with his wife, three dogs, and two cats in Indianapolis and dreams of the middle of nowhere.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

Probably when I was 8 or 9. I always enjoyed telling stories so once I learned how to write, I was writing little stories—only a paragraph. I liked this storytelling thing. When I got older, I gained new skills and decided to pursue it.

How long did it take you to come up with an idea for your first novel?

I was in grad school. I was taking a writing class and coming up with ideas—that was a decade ago. It took me a lot longer to write the story, but the first idea came from 10 years ago.

Can you tell us more about your first novel?

It introduces the main protagonist in a fictional town. Sheriff James Mccoy. Fictional towns allow more creative freedom versus a real town. There’s some violence that ensues when he’s gone, and he deals with an internal struggle of justice or revenge. When does revenge stop and justice take over? Action is pretty fast-paced; I think good Westerns are fast-paced with good beats. Westerns are action and people want that.

What’s your process of writing?

Before I start writing, for the Westerns I come up with the rough outline of beats and plots. The rest I leave to discovery. I like having a road map. I allow freedom so the story can take me different places. I try to have a good plan on major things that occur to keep myself on track. I want entertaining and engaging moments in the story.

How would you approach it differently if you were to repeat it today?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. I didn’t have the skill set I do now. When I was coming up with ideas, I didn’t have the life experience. You need experience to set the tone. When I was younger, I wrote other things, but they weren’t good. Now, I’m falling into a place where my writing has matured. It has the right tone without jumping back and forth. I’m at the right place in my life to pursue this further.

What got you interested in writing Westerns?

It’s a dual inspiration. A lot of it comes from my late grandfather who watched Westerns, read Westerns. He bought me my first Western. It was Gary Paulson. It started my love with the West, I wanted to do my grandfather’s memory proud and capture something we both loved and shared together. I do like the appeal of Western or pulp Western. You aren’t sinking 70 hours to read this book, it’s a quick read. They can give you action, romance, characters that are good and bad. There’s gray area. Your protagonist is heroic, and the bad guys always get their due in the end. It’s engaging. The Western genre allows you have to characters that are flawed but have good reasons.

What do you think makes for the perfect Western?

I think the perfect Western needs to combine heroes that people can look up to that are flawed and human but find a way to overcome it and do good. They need to have compelling villains, motivations that people can understand so they feel real. It needs to move fast. Westerns work best with action beats every so often because people are reading them for the action and characters. They want the hunt, the shootout, the tropes of the Western, so don’t run away from them. Try to incorporate them the best you can and create a read that is brisk so they can keep moving on to the next one. Move through the process quickly.

What can we look forward to from you next?

I have several more books in the James McShay series. In 2022, my goal is to produce a new book every 60 days; I’ve already produced 2 for DSP, which will be 8 books next year. I want to turn out content with good speed but not sacrifice quality. I want to make sure it’s churned out fast enough, so the readers stay engaged with the characters.

Katrina Turner resides in Pennsylvania with her fiancé and child where she works as the Social Media Manager for Dusty Saddle Publishing. Katrina enjoys reading, writing, painting and playing her guitar—anything that lets her express her creative freedom. When she’s not working, you can find her curled up on the couch with a good book or having a fun game night with her loved ones. Please email admin@dspublishingnetwork.com

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