Author Interview: R.J Barker

I’ve been neglecting my blog horribly this year. I have so many ideas for it, but for some reason, I get a mental block.

However, I have returned with a new interview, with the author of Age of Assassins, R.J Barker! . I hope you enjoy it.


  1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?

I’m RJ Barker. I like to say I write whatever comes into my head and at the moment that’s the Wounded Kingdom trilogy compromising: Age of Assassins (just released), Blood of Assassins (February 2018) and King of Assassins (August 2018). They can all be read alone and are a sort of epic fantasy murder mysteries. The two main characters are Girton Club-Foot, an apprentice assassin, and Merela Karn, his master — there are all sorts of magic, murder, fighting and intrigue going on. Then behind that, there’s a larger story that will slowly reveal itself and, hopefully, change the way you see the books you’ve already read.
  1. How do you develop your plots and characters?

I don’t really. I just sit and write. It’s all very ‘done by feel’ so I suppose at any moment I could suddenly find myself stuck. Best not to think about that actually because…well…erm…
Oh, Wait! I try and find a character to write from that feels real to me. Then I can see the world through their eyes rather than consciously setting everything up and from that moment on it becomes more about transcribing how someone else sees events. That’s much easier than writing, having someone tell you what to write. Even if that person is imaginary.
  1. Tell us about your current project.

I can’t! I’m just doing a proposal for a new trilogy as King of Assassins went off to my editor a couple of weeks ago. So I have all these ideas in bits on a page and writing a proposal is a very new thing, I don’t generally plan and now I’m having to. It involves ships. That’s about as much as I can give away right now. I love ships. It’s been quite fun actually, I can see the appeal of having some idea of what you intend to do before you start now that I’ve done it. It still felt a bit like work though. I’m not generally a fan of work. And the awful thing is if no-one likes it I’ll have to do it again. 
  1. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!

It’s Girton. He’s a killer but he’s never had to think about why he does what he does and he’s confronted with that. He has a real sense of what is right and that drives him. He’s also been raised apart from other people and in the book he forced into a situation with other boys his age, and it’s alien to him. Being an assassin, that’s easy, it’s what he does. But fitting in with your peer groups is another thing. Add to this he has a club foot and he’s physically small, so he becomes a figure of fun to a lot of them, which he struggles with. He’d quite like to kill them all really but he’s not allowed to.
  1. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Enjoy it. Nothing else matters. If you enjoy it and you keep doing it you’re going to keep getting better because that will bring you more joy. And also you’ll never be wasting your time, you’ll just be doing something you enjoy. And don’t quit. No surer way to get nowhere than by not doing stuff.
  1. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world building within your book?

I’ve been very ill and I brought that to Girton, as he’s disabled. A large amount of what is used as a sort of martial art in the book is actually ported over from pain management techniques. I love people too, and I bring that to the book. It might be a grim world but there is a message of hope and, I suppose, morality at the center.
  1. What inspires you to write?

I love books and love doing it. I suppose it would be truer to say I’ve never thought about not writing. It’s just that thing that I do. I would be doing it (and have been, for a long time) even if no one is paying any attention.
  1. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

    This sounds awful but writing Age of Assassins was really easy. I wrote the first draft in six weeks and though there have been some changes and a lot of polishing the bulk of it hasn’t really changed. It pretty much sprung out fully formed.
  1. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Oh, this is difficult because it’s a murder mystery so to pick out a favorite bit risks spoiling the mystery. I suppose the dreams/flashbacks that tell you Girton’s history. They’re a lot more free form and illusory than the rest of the book, less tied down, and I enjoy doing that, just letting words roll around and seeing how they form when I let go.
  1. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I probably did but I learn in a very hands on manner and I don’t tend to consider things. I just do stuff. That was a useful answer, wasn’t it?
  1. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?

I’ve not found it difficult really, not so far (touch wood). I suppose I do it a bit like an actor when they approach the character. Find something about them I understand and use that to latch on to them. But I don’t do it that consciously.
  1. What are your future project(s)?

Ships! Secret ships!
  1. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

I have no idea. I’m really quite useless at everything. Maybe sleep for a living, that would be good. Or I could model boots, I have very shapely calves.
  1. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

Oh twitter is always good, I’m dedbutdrmng on Twitter, and on Facebook, I am
My website is here I don’t really do Goodreads though as I don’t read reviews so I just tend to stay away from it, as it’s too tempting.
I thank you for the interview, Barker! I have your book on my Kindle and I plan to leave a review when I’m finished.
I hope to return soon.

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