Today, I bring you an interview with author Ian Barker. We find out about the inspiration behind his book tilted 'One Hot Summer'. The author describes the book as a story of teenage obsession and insecurity, of sensual experience and terminal embarrassment, of learning about life while struggling to understand oneself.
The book is set in in the 1970's. 1976 to be exact, and that was a pretty cool year if you ask me. Why you ask? Well, it was the year, I came into this world.
Lets find out a bit more about Ian and his work.
Tell me about yourself
I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I was at school. I spent around 20 years working in IT – whilst still dabbling in writing in my spare time – until I discovered writing about computers was easier than fixing them, and went to work for a computer magazine. My first novel ‘Fallen Star’ was published in 2010.
I now write articles for a technology website. I live in Greater Manchester in the UK and I’ve had my first Covid vaccination.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Trust me, I don’t need weird crystalline minerals to weaken my powers. I find not writing incredibly easy!
Your latest release, titled ‘One Hot Summer’, is described as a coming of age story. Can you tell me more about it?
It’s set in 1976, which was one of the hottest British summers on record, and follows 17-year-old John Burton on a journey to maturity by way of love, friendship, rivalry, guilt and death, along with a little ‘help’ from a cartoon devil who provides a sort of visible anti-conscience.
To the extent that I was a teenager in the mid-1970s and it’s set in the area where I grew up, I suppose it’s autobiographical although John’s life is a lot more interesting than mine was.
The ’70s can seem like a very distant time now – no internet, no mobile phones, only three TV channels – although they’re within living memory for many it’s almost like historical fiction.
Where do you draw inspiration for your story telling?
It comes from all kinds of places, the idea for Fallen Star came from watching a reality TV show. I don’t think you can succeed as a writer – whatever your genre – without being an observer of human nature, collecting snatches of conversation and just looking at how people behave.
What does literary success look like to you?
Unless there’s a film producer reading this I don’t think writing novels is ever going to make me rich, but it’s always gratifying to get reviews and comments from people who have read and enjoyed the books. It slightly saddens me the number of people who don’t leave reviews, it’s one of the best things you can do for an author.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Nick Hornby’s ‘Just Like You’ usually I like his novels but I don’t think this is one of his best. Sorry, Nick.
Who are your favourite authors, and how have they influenced your work?
I like lots of authors, it’s always difficult to pick favourites because I feel like I’m being disloyal to many others. If I have to pick some out I’d choose John LeCarré because he was an absolute master of his craft, and his books transcend their genre. The same goes for Douglas Adams not just because he was funny but because you knew real effort must have gone into making something so easy to read. I’d also pick Jonathan Coe for being able to dissect society’s and individual’s concerns and motivations while still being entertaining. I think whatever you read influences your work to some degree and that can be a problem sometimes because you can find yourself subconsciously picking up on someone else’s ideas and styles.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m writing a sequel to ‘Fallen Star’ which picks up the lives of the main characters a few years after the events of the first book. Slow progress at the moment though, when you write non-fiction for a living finding the motivation to write fiction in your spare time is hard.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot / spirit animal, and why?
Interesting and not something I’ve every really thought about. On reflection I think probably a hedgehog, curious, slow moving but inclined to be spiky when challenged.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love reading, obviously, and listening to music. I like to have music on as I write but lyrics can be distracting as I sometimes find myself picking up on the words. I’m a bit of a petrol-head too so I like cars and driving, and I build model railways.
A big thank you to Ian for sharing with us. If you would like to check out his work, click on the links below.