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Interview with Rick Barry

As a follower of God, Rick's life and interests changed. He was willing to give up the dream of traveling to pursue whatever plans God might have for him. But God didn’t rip away his dreams or force him to do something he didn’t want to do. Instead, He took the things that already interested Rick and gave him new reasons to pursue them. Rick ended up adding Russian to his repertoire, and today he serves as Director of Church Planting Support in a ministry especially active in Eastern Europe. Although most of his duties are in the home office near Indianapolis, he frequently visits various countries of Eastern Europe, where he preaches in Russian, helps in children’s camps, and does what he can to shine the Gospel light so that others, too, may find and enjoy the abundant life that Jesus came to make possible.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
The Bible passage in mind as I wrote was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” That truth is well-known, but it’s still so easy for us to forget. My hero, Captain Roger Greene, finds himself trapped by a situation totally beyond his control. At one point he fears he will go insane. In desperation, he begins to read a Bible. What he gleans from Scripture doesn’t release him from his situation, but it does provide new hope and a new perspective. He begins to see God’s hand in the universe and learns to trust him.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Two things. First, the belief that writing for others was something God wanted me to do. Second, a large dose of persistence. Back in the Old Testament, the children of Israel knew that God wanted them to go into the Promised Land and conquer it, and they got off to a good start. Yet, they weren’t persistent. They stopped short and lived side by side with their enemies, much to their later regret. In writing, it’s easy to get distracted, discouraged, or simply tired of rereading and revising your own words. Without persistence, you might give up even if you feel you’re called to write.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I write from a God-centered view of the universe. I can’t glorify evil, and even though sin exists in many forms and affects my characters, I don’t want to describe any sin in a way that will seem attractive. Just the opposite. Although I don’t preach in my pages, I do want the spiritual threads of my stories to point the reader’s thoughts toward God and eternity.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Although I’m not nearly as prolific as some of my author friends, when a good idea comes along, there’s a creative compulsion that simply wells up inside like an artesian spring. Writing prompts do nothing for me. But an intriguing idea for a story—that provides its own motivation. As far as the source for the ideas, they come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes a news report sparks a thought. Other times it’s just a matter of wondering “What if?”

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
Since I have a full-time career as one of the directors of a Christian ministry, I don’t have huge blocks of time for writing. Most of my writing gets accomplished by rising early, reading my Bible, then going to the computer to add more words. Often at lunchtime I will eat my meal quickly, then resume writing or revising for 20 or 30 minutes.

I can’t think of any specific quirks, except that if I’m writing somewhere where I’m alone and it’s quiet for too long, I have to pack up the laptop and continue work at Panera or someplace where life swirls around me. I can tune out the Muzak and the conversations, but it’s nice to feel plugged into the world rather than totally isolated.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?
This might not seem funny to others, but it sure took me by surprise. I was sitting in a Chick-fil-A, just about to bite into my sandwich, when a cashier walked over and said, “Excuse me, but aren’t you Rick Barry, the writer?” When I said that I am, she declared, “My whole family loves your book Gunner’s Run!” She asked me to autograph of strip of receipt paper from the cash register.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Tough question! I’ve never tried to write exactly like some other author, and I don’t think I could. I believe that much of what ends up on the page is a combination of the author’s own past—the experience he’s had, the places he’s visited, his individual perspective on life, his personal way of articulating thoughts. That’s hard to imitate. I write the kind of stories I would like to read, and I simply do the best job that I can with the abilities the Lord has given me.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
After having written a couple hundred articles and short stories, my first attempt at a novel was a YA fantasy story titled Kiriath’s Quest. (It’s still in print.) No doubt, Tolkien inspired that, since I read The Lord of the Rings in seventh grade and loved it. But Gunner’s Run and now The Methuselah Project both use World War II as a backdrop for my heroes’ stories. It’s a time period I find fascinating.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I speak Russian, and every summer I travel to Eastern Europe, where I assist with Christian camps, sometimes for children, sometimes for teens. This is a ministry I find deeply fulfilling. Last summer in Belarus, I had the privilege of personally leading 25 young people to the Lord. That’s a thrill that no number of book sales can rival. (Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible for me to write while working in camps. Too many distractions and not enough time!)

Any parting words?
Only this: If you read a book that especially touches your heart or that somehow inspires you to be a better person, send a note (or an email) to the author. Let the writer know how much that book affected to you. Creating a book requires countless hours at a keyboard. Sometimes the author wonders, “Is it worth it?” Your feedback will be a huge encouragement!

Thanks for sharing with us, Rick!

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