Skip to main content

Barry Eisler

Barry Eisler
Sunday, December 19, 2004


Barry Eisler
Jan Long
Dave White
Gerald So

Jan Long: Hi, Barry!

Gerald So: Welcome, Barry.

Barry Eisler: Hi everyone, sorry for the delay.

Dave White: How's it goin' there?

Barry Eisler: Good. I think I'm logged in twice...

Dave White: ha

Barry Eisler: Are you all getting duplicate messages from me?

Dave White: nope.

Gerald So: No.

Jan Long: Gerald So is Gerald, our group moderator/owner. dpwhite is Dave

Dave White: howdy.

Barry Eisler: Hi all.

Jan Long: And the person with the name that cannot be pronounced is Barry.

Gerald So: Dave White, aspiring novelist and accomplished short story writer (plug, plug)

Dave White: Thanks, Gerald.

Barry Eisler: Means "rhapsody" in Japanese. Thought it would be unique, but it was already taken. So I added the 40 at the end...

Dave White: Wow, can't believe someone got to that one.

Gerald So: I see.

Jan Long: All right. Someone has to ask, so it may as well be me. Why a hit man?

Barry Eisler: Why not? Kidding. Lots of reasons.

Jan Long: Not exactly a sympathetic character on the face of it.

Barry Eisler: Actually, no real reasons. He just seemed to come to me. My wife thinks that doesn't bode well for revelations regarding my core personality.

Jan Long: LOL

Gerald So: :)

Barry Eisler: True. I never really thought of him as sympathetic or not. He just came out the way he is.

Dave White: Who are you influenced by? Is Ian Fleming an influence? Because Rain Fall read like a James Bond novel to me. Just a little more grounded in reality.

Barry Eisler: A lot of people mention Bond. I read the books in high school, but I wouldn't say they're really influences. Anyone here read Trevanian?

Jan Long: Nope

Barry Eisler: Or Vachss?

Dave White: Vachss I've read.

Gerald So: Still have to try both.

Barry Eisler: Vachss is an influence. And read Trevanian! Especially Shibumi, with assassin Nicholai Hel. Great book.

Jan Long: Er, well, sorry to say, but his real-life behavior has kind of put me off trying him.

Barry Eisler: His real life behavior? Trevanian also did "The Eiger Sanction" (made into a movie by and with Clint Eastwood) and "The Loo Sanction."

Dave White: The reason I mention Fleming is because Fleming was very detailed in his descritptions because he knew his plots were unbelievable. And I felt that your novel was extremely detailed, but flowed really well.

Barry Eisler: Right, hopefully the detail in my books enhances the believability, rather than covering up for a lack of it.

Dave White: Ah okay.

Jan Long: Anyone here familiar with the Myers-Briggs test? Rain is definitely an SJ!

Dave White: Not sure about that.

Jan Long: The attention to detail, particularly.

Barry Eisler: Familiar with MB, but I don't remember the different possibilities.

Gerald So: I like that Rain is an older protag. Also the book felt like the 1970s though I know it was set in present day.

Jan Long: Wait a minute, Gerald, he's not THAT old. :)

Barry Eisler: He's about 54 now. And aging in real time.

Gerald So: The book had the feel of those older thrillers, like Bill Granger's November Man, for one.

Barry Eisler: Don't know of it. But it must have been good... ;-)

Gerald So: Yes, I was a big fan of Granger. I like realistic aging, something Spenser lacks.

Barry Eisler: Yeah, he started out as a Korean War vet, then Vietnam. But that's okay. Just a different approach.

Gerald So: I think only the TV Spenser was updated to Vietnam. In the books, Spenser just sort of froze.

Barry Eisler: But my approach means Rain won't be around for another 30 books.

Dave White: Now, I think you've written 3 novels, which so far is your favorite?

Barry Eisler: The latest is my favorite. But that's been true for each.

Gerald So: :)

Dave White: cool.

Barry Eisler: Which have you all read?

Jan Long: Just this one so far.

Dave White: I've read Rain Fall so far, with Hard Rain on my bookshelf.

Barry Eisler: Well, the second is (even) better, and the third the best yet.

Gerald So: Rain Fall is the list feature this month.

Barry Eisler: Got it. Hope it made you hungry for more.

Dave White: It did. I plan to read it soon, depending on time.

Barry Eisler: No worries.

Jan Long: Yep. I've got the yellow one, but it's waiting 'til I get the blue one. (Sorry, I get the titles confused, so am going by color.)

Barry Eisler: No worries, I go by color, too. Which makes Rain Storm "The Yellow Rain"

Dave White: hahaha.

Gerald So: I've also got Hard Rain on the shelf.

Jan Long: Unfortunately, a lot of our members have left for the holidays.

Gerald So: Some may show up.

Barry Eisler: I can't stay that long anyway -- deadline for the new manuscript is Jan 5, so I am swamped.

Gerald So: I see. If you have to leave abruptly it's no problem. Thanks for chatting in advance.

Barry Eisler: My pleasure! Wish I had more time. This is easier than writing, and fun, too.

Dave White: How much of Rain Fall's political background is taken from real life?

Barry Eisler: All the political background in RF is real.

Dave White: Okay. Wow.

Barry Eisler: It's all from Forbes, "Dogs and Demons" by Alex Kerr... it's all real.

Jan Long: How was the book received in Japan?

Dave White: And you lived in Tokyo? Whoops.

Barry Eisler: Even the mention of the people who died mysteriously, by "natural causes". That's real, too.

Barry Eisler: Lived there for one year, than Osaka for two more

Dave White: ok

Gerald So: The atmosphere really came through.

Barry Eisler: Thanks for that. I love trying to capture the essence of a place. Just got back from Bangkok -- that was fun.

Dave White: Yeah, though I kept seeing Blade Runner. Not sure if that was intentional.

Barry Eisler: Not intentional. Tokyo is Blade Runner-esque.

Gerald So: Bangkok 8 by John Burdett is another atmospheric read.

Barry Eisler: I heard. Haven't read it.

Jan Long: Since this stuff was real, are you at all worried that someone may want to silence *you*? Not that I'm paranoid or anything. :)

Gerald So: A friend lent it to me, but I couldn't finish it in time.

Barry Eisler: They'll kill the reporters first. They're my canaries in the coal mine. If the reporters start dying, I'll get concerned.

Gerald So: :)

Jan Long: Especially if it's natural causes.

Barry Eisler: Besides, John Rain taught me a few tricks. I'm not so easy to get to.

Dave White: That's a bit frightening. :-) Any ideas what you might write about when you're done with the Rain?

Gerald So: Good question, Dave.

Barry Eisler: A few. I was working on a standalone when Putnam bought Rain Fall plus a then-unwritten sequel. I'd like to get back to it some day. But for now, I'm having a lot of fun with this series.

Dave White: set in Japan as well? Cool.

Barry Eisler: Wasn't set in Japan, but involved Japan.

Jan Long: Have you done any non-fiction?

Barry Eisler: Haven't written any non-fiction. Although the Rain books are fictional explanations for non-fictional events.

Gerald So: Clever.

Jan Long: I meant more along the lines of the seminar you gave at Bouchercon.

Barry Eisler: Ah. Just a couple articles. Did you catch the seminar?

Jan Long: (Gerald and Dave, he did a seminar on how to be aware and foil anyone who might be trying to get you.) Yes, I did. And you made us all really paranoid.

Dave White: Oh, cool.

Gerald So: Very timely.

Dave White: People try to get me all the time.

Barry Eisler: "Knowledge without awareness is denial. Awareness without knowledge is paranoia."

Gerald So: Whose quote is that?

Barry Eisler: I pieced it together from things I've heard elsewhere.

Gerald So: I see.

Jan Long: A bunch of us were riding up the escalator afterwards and saw a man leaning over the railing at the top. We were all panicked.

Barry Eisler: Actually, it's hard -- my tour schedule gets posted on my website. I'm worringly easy to predict in that regard. So people have the opportunity; hopefully not the motive.

Barry Eisler: Read Gavin DeBecker' Gift of Fear. Great book on this stuff.

Jan Long: Oh! I went to his talk and booksigning when GIFT OF FEAR came out. He's an excellent and interesting speaker.

Dave White: Are you seriously worried or is it... just a slight concern?

Gerald So: hmm.

Barry Eisler: No, I'm mostly kidding.

Dave White: Okay.

Gerald So: Or is he? :)

Jan Long: And then there was this - the seminar did make us feel somewhat empowered, so to speak. Then I start reading RAIN FALL, and there was an incident right at the start which pretty much pointed out you're powerless against more than one person.

Barry Eisler: Everything I've written about is taken from the news, so it's by definition already been reported. I can't imagine anyone getting overly bent about it this late in the game.

Gerald So: I see.

Barry Eisler: Well, not powerless. And besides, you have to have a realistic understanding of the threat. Is anyone of us of sufficient interest to attract the kind of resources that were used against Rain (or by him)? Probably not.

Gerald So: Right.

Barry Eisler: It's like burglar-proofing your house. It's not Fort Knox, so you don't have to defend it to that level. Likewise, the president needs a certain level of protection because he's a high-value target. Lots of motive, so you have to really deny the opportunity. Ordinary folks are lower motive, so it's not as critical to totally deny the opportunity. Sorry for the shorthand -- trying to explain fast.

Gerald So: I also like Tatsu in the books, a good foil for Rain.

Barry Eisler: Thanks. Tatsu is one of my favorites. Wait til you meet Dox, in Rain Storm.

Jan Long: Do you envision only a certain number of books in the series?

Barry Eisler: I can imagine where things would go in a fifth book. Beyond that, I have no idea

Dave White: Do you outline?

Gerald So: I think limited series are better these days. Leave 'em wanting more.

Jan Long: That's a tough one, Gerald. Some should definitely have ended many books ago - Evanovich is a good example. On the other hand there are some series I don't want to end, ever.

Barry Eisler: My outlines are pretty short and high level. I need to know who the characters are, and what situation triggers the story. After that, mostly I just write it.

Dave White: Okay.

Gerald So: Dave, you don't outline, right?

Dave White: No, I'm not an outliner.

Gerald So: I'd rather series end than get stale.

Barry Eisler: Yes!

Jan Long: If the Alex McKnight series ends, I will NOT be able to handle it. :)

Dave White: Barry, what's more important to you, character or plot?

Barry Eisler: Character, character, character! This is true for everyone, whether you know it or not. The only way human beings can care about what is if they first care about who.

Dave White: Good point.

Barry Eisler: Think about it: you can read about a horrible earthquake on the other side of the world, but it doesn't really affect you if you didn't know any of the thousands who died in it. But if something extremely trivial happens to the person you care about most - someone is rude to you, something like that -- it bugs you for days.

Dave White: I always think about it in terms of people watching a TV series. They what to know what happens to TONY next week or something like that.

Barry Eisler: The more a book is character-driven, the more it is "literary fiction." The more it depends on plot, the more it is "genre." Of course, the best have both.

Jan Long: BUT books aren't like real life. The problem I have with character-driven books is that they start turning into books I don't want to read. They start dealing too much with a protagonist's personal life and the crime fiction element falls by the wayside.

Barry Eisler: Sure, but like anything else, it has to be done well. If you get bored with the character, the book wasn't character driven, it was character stalled.

Gerald So: Company is here. On my way out. Thanks again, Barry.

Jan Long: Bye, Gerald.

Dave White: Adios.

Barry Eisler: Bye Gerald. Good meeting you.

Gerald So: Feel free to stay as long as you like.

Jan Long: This was a very different type of book for me. Most of the stuff I read has a protagonist who's trying to solve the crimes.

Barry Eisler: I would love to stay longer! But I have to get back to the manuscript. I still have a ton to do.

Dave White: Good luck, Barry.

Barry Eisler: And to you, too, Dave. Good meeting you all.

Jan Long: Thanks for coming! Sorry there weren't more of us here.

Barry Eisler: No worries! We'll do it again with more people and more time.

Gerald So: Definitely.

Dave White: Thanks a lot. Enlightening.

Barry Eisler: Likewise. Thanks again, all -- stay in touch:

Jan Long: Good luck with the deadline!

Barry Eisler: Thanks again. Over and out.


Popular posts from this blog

The Night of the Flood: A Novel in Stories

The Night of the Flood: A Novel in Stories goes on sale March 5. I invited the editors, E.A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen, to tell us more about it:

It happened the night Maggie Wilbourne was to be put to death, the first woman executed by the state of Pennsylvania in modern times. That was when a group of women passionately protesting Maggie’s imprisonment struck. They blew up a local dam, flooding the town of Everton and indirectly inspiring a hellish night of crime and chaos.

Fourteen of today’s most exciting contemporary crime writers will take you to the fictional town of Everton, with stories from criminals, cops, and civilians that explore the thin line between the rich and the poor, the insider and the outsider, the innocent and the guilty. Whether it’s a store owner grimly protecting his property from looters, an opportunistic servant who sees her time to strike, or two misguided youths taking their anger out against any available victim, The Night of the Flood is an intricate and…

2018 Derringer Finalist William Burton McCormick

I'm a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, an informal association of writers, publishers, and fans that has kept mystery & crime short stories in the public eye since 1996. On April 15, the Society announced the finalists for its 2018 Derringer Awards. Members are voting to determine the winners, to be announced May 15.

In the meantime, as I did last year, I'm inviting the finalists for interviews. If you'd like to participate, email me your answers to the same following questions.

Published widely and worldwide, Bill McCormick is up for the Best Long Story Derringer (4,001—8,000 words) with the chilling "Matricide and Ice Cream" from The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour (November 2017).

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

An American man bumps off his mother on a Ukrainian train. It seems the perfect crime until another passenger starts snooping-around.

What were the most difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing the story?

The story…

2018 Derringer Finalist Patricia Dusenbury

I'm a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, an informal association of writers, publishers, and fans that has kept mystery & crime short stories in the public eye since 1996. On April 15, the Society announced the finalists for its 2018 Derringer Awards. Members are voting to determine the winners, to be announced May 15.

In the meantime, as I did last year, I'm inviting the finalists for interviews. If you'd like to participate, email me your answers to the same following questions.

Patricia Dusenbury is up for the Best Flash Derringer (Up to 1,000 words) for her Flash Bang Mysteries story "Cold Turkey".

Describe your story in up to 20 words.

A man in love gives up smoking and discovers his best friend cannot be trusted.

What were the most difficult and most enjoyable parts of writing the story?

Difficult: telling a story in 750 words. Enjoyable: telling a story in 750 words. Flash fiction is fun and challenging, especially for someone who started writin…