Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reese's Pieces... The Fictional World of Barry Reese

Barry Reese is one of those guys whose name screams pulp. The Rook? Yep, that's his baby. Lazarus Gray? His too. Barry gets writing the high adventure that comes with the New Pulp world. Heck, he's even been behind the adventures of the Avengers at one point.

Thankfully, he gave us a few minutes to get to know him.

Tell us a bit about your latest work. 

My newest work is a short story called “The Hellmouth,” which will appear in The New Adventures of Thunder Jim Wade. This will be my second Pulp Obscura tale (the first was in the Richard Knight book) and it was so much fun to write. I’ve found that I tend to enjoy writing Doc Savage knockoffs quite a bit – Doc was always such a paragon that it’s fun to take that archetype and twist it just a little bit. Thunder Jim Wade is
a more human character – he smokes, he drinks, he screws up. I had a real blast working with him. 

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

You know, I’m not sure I’m the person to really answer that. I write escapist fiction – I don’t set out to do much more than that. Having said that, I almost always have supernatural themes in my work because I like seeing men of action pitted against forces that are so vast that they’re almost unexplainable.

I’ve had people suggest that there is a recurring theme of loss or abandonment by parents in my work but that was never intentional. But The Rook’s father issues are prevalent throughout the series, Lazarus Gray’s parents are both dead, Guan-Yin embarks on an adventure to find her missing father, etc. I think that’s more a reflection of the storytelling nature of the genre, though: personal loss is a great starting point for a pulp-style hero.

What would be your dream project?

Well, I got the chance to write The Avenger and I’ve done work for Marvel Comics, so two of the big dreams have been accomplished. I suppose I’d still love to get my hands on The Shadow, though.

Obviously, if I got the chance to spearhead a full-on novel revival of The Avenger, that would be incredible. My Lazarus Gray series is definitely an homage to Justice, Inc. but there are enough differences that I could see myself doing both.

I’d also love to write Paul Ernst’s other great hero, Seekay.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Ugh. I love all my work while I’m working on it and hate all of it when it’s done. I can’t look back because all I see are flaws. So what would I change about my past work? All of it. I’d make it better.

I generally don’t worry about the past, though. I’m a pulp writer. I finish a project and move on to the other twenty that are waiting in front of me.

What inspires you to write?

Everything! Watching movies, reading books, listening to people… it all sparks the imagination. I have a compulsion to write and I honestly can’t quit – and I’ve tried! If I go too long without writing, my knuckles start to ache. I need to feel the slamming of my fingertips against the keys…

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

My favorite writers have varying styles and while some of them do work that’s very different from what I do, I still admire their craft and try to learn from them. I’d list Frank Herbert, Paul Ernst, Michael Moorcock, Chris Claremont (old-school), Roy Thomas, Jim Starlin, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Andy McDermott and Clive Cussler.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I’d say it’s 70% art and 30% science. There are definitely “crunchy” bits to writing, in terms of attention to detail, grammar, narrative tricks, etc. But I’ll take someone with enthusiasm and a love for drama over someone who is technically proficient any day of the week.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Sure! Coming in April is Tales of the Rook, an anthology where authors like Mike Bullock, Bobby Nash, Ron Fortier, Percival Constantine and Tommy Hancock take a turn at my Rook character. And then in May, you have Die Glocke, which is the sequel to my first Lazarus Gray collection. That will be followed in June by a collection of stories featuring members of The Family Grace, who have popped up in lots of series that I’ve written. After that, Pro Se will begin reissuing The Rook Chronicles at the end of the year, with all-new art and completely re-edited.

Should be another busy year!

For more information about Barry and his writing, drop by his website at