Barry James Hickey – Chasing God’s River Interview
by Cathy B Stucker
q: Tell us a bit about the book.
A: The bond of marriage is tested when a husband in mid-life crisis returns to Colorado for the summer to kayak and find his virility again. He doesn’t expect to meet his former coach, an old college sweetheart and a mysterious teenager. Each wants something from him he can’t provide. And then there is the whitewater of the Arkansas river. It wants something from him, too. Maybe his life.
q: Tell us something about yourself.
a: My life’s journey is fodder for my books. I started writing when I was twenty. As a kid, I hitchhiked across America many times. I was a singer in three bands, acted in a dozen plays. A handful of commercials. I started in Chicago, then Colorado, a Los Angeles film career and back to Colorado. I have had a long list of odd jobs in-between: steelworker, elevator operator, desk clerk, canoe guide, movie studios, realtor, school teacher, car salesman, publisher to name a few… Four colleges… I did the Hollywood thing for 15 years as an actor, writer and producer. I’ve traveled to odd places – Greenland, India, Thailand, Greece, the Philippines to name a few.
q: What inspired you to write this book?
a: I’m in my mid-fifties. Everyday I’m confronted by broken people. Some by their own hand, others by the world they live in. I write stories about common people overcoming the sometimes-extraordinary obstacles of everyday life.
q: How did you choose the title?
a; The river is a metaphor. How many of us chase what isn’t there anymore or long for what will never be in our short lives? Our time on earth is limited. We have to accept that.
q: What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
a: I’m still learning about the publishing world. I spent a few thousand dollars in postage and paper pursuing agents for my first three books. Since I’m not in the big leagues, there is no financial benefit to having a publisher besides the validation that comes with someone accepting my work. If I win a lottery, I will probably hire a publicist, marketers, and a management team. I’ve learned that the marketing is all on me. My publisher, TumbleBrush Press likes the spiritual offerings in my books.
q: How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
a: I was twenty, operating an old-fashioned Otis elevator at night in downtown Chicago. Lots of free time. I started with poetry. “Cold thoughts spring from the winter fountain.” I have two boxes of index cards from those days – outlines for two books; The Sons of Marco Polo and Voyageur. I sent queries to thirty agents and realized my first rejection letters. That was 35 years ago.
q: Do you have any writing rituals?
a: I have to work other jobs to survive so I write early in the morning and late at night. I like to meander on weekends with a notepad for new inspirations. I visit the library, a bookstore, a coffee shop.
q: How do you come up with the names for your characters?
a: When I see a character fully, I recognize the name. Some names are allegorical.
q: Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
a: If I didn’t write I could afford vacations and increase my income in other ventures. I seem to have stepped away from the pleasures of local culture since my mind is always on my work. I also realize that it is very difficult being a stand-up guy with so much temptation.
q: If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
a: I would have enjoyed singing in big auditoriums with a big band. But there is no do-over in life.
q: What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
a: I read all sorts of books. This year it’s been John Irving, Larry McMurty, Robert Parker, John Grisham, Somerset Maugham, John Steinbeck, Norman Mailer, Mario Puzo, Carson McCullers. James Michener's Alaska this week. I started several other books by various writers but put them down halfway. I just couldn’t punish myself to finish them. I discovered a small gem in Neither Wolf nor Dog by Kent Nerburn. My favorite authors are Mark Twain, Jack London, Carson McCullers and Leo Tolstoy.
q; Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
a: The Glass Fence was released last week. Next is Waking Paul Bunyan. A modern day family resuscitates their giant uncle and Babe the blue ox. If I don’t get too misanthropic, it should be a humorous and poignant story about how American values have been suffocated by big government and materialism. Poor Paul has to face age discrimination, his disabilities as a giant, the utter loneliness of being a freak of nature and social outcast. And have you seen the cost of tomatoes at the local grocery?
q: What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
a: Publishing is a crapshoot. Write well and follow your moral compass.
q: Who is the perfect reader for your book?
a: Chasing God’s River is a modern love story with action and adventure. I think it appeals mostly to women over thirty. All of my books do. Maybe I’m a sensitive guy.
q: Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
a: I have a website. www.barryhickey.com. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace with interviews on Youtube. My books are available at www.tumblebrushpress.com or on Amazon.com and Smashwords in print or as a download.