Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interview with author, blogger, and engineer Nathan Barra

 Nathan Barra
 West Texas, USA.  
Do you know that corner where Texas and New Mexico meet?  
Just about there.

Good morning, Nathan.  Welcome to Vision and Verse.  We are so happy to have you with us this morning.  What have you written? 
Words?  Though, I suppose if you want more specifics, I have been writing my whole life.  I started with short stories, about as long as my attention span as a child.  They were done when they were done, what can I say?  I really enjoy writing flash fiction, though I don’t publish most of it as I want to try to find a professional home for the pieces before I put them up for free.  Recently, I’ve been working more as a novelist, and am in the process of polishing my first completed manuscript of sufficiently good quality that I don’t want to take it out back and set fire to it.  To keep my fingers on the keyboard, I spend much of my time blogging, on my own site (www.NathanBarra.com) and with a group blog of very talented folks called “The Fictorians” (www.Fictorians.com).  I’ve also been known to provide a guest post.

What is your favorite genre to write? 
Fantasy, especially urban.  Science fiction is also a great deal of fun.  Can I say science fantasy?  That would be ideal.  As I am an engineer by training, temperament and profession, I feel like I get enough of the “real world” in my day to day life.  I can’t escape it as my writing seems to juxtapose magic and technology, with fascinating results.

Favorite food. 
Oh… That is a question akin to “Which of your children is your favorite?” or “What’s your favorite book?”  I’m a self-proclaimed foodie, and when I start cooking, friends seem to come out of the woodwork, so I can’t be half bad.  But, enough stalling.  If forced to a single answer, I’ll have to say Saki (salmon) Sushimi.

Tea or coffee?
Tea.  Loose leaf, specifically.  I’m a bit of a snob.

Pizza or ice cream? 
Given the choice of delicious and delicious, I’ll choose pizza.

Where would you like to visit? 
There is a long list.  On the top, right now?  I want to rent camping equipment and a jeep, then camp my way across New Zealand.

Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  What? 
There isn’t one musical genre or artist that I can point to as a favorite as my musical tastes largely depend on my mood and to what I’ve been listening to recently.  By far, I own more techno (mostly vocal trance and house) music, though I have a smattering of just about everything.  When not dictating, yes, I do listen to music as I write.  I’ve created a number of Pandora stations for different types of writing (action scenes, romance scenes, travel scenes, various kinds of sequels, specific character sound tracks, etc.) that I’ll queue up as appropriate.

What makes you laugh? Situational humor, especially something that is cleverly worded or observed in an interesting way.  I adore good standup or improvised comedy.  I don’t have much respect for bathroom humor.  I used to, but three years on stage as a live performance improvised comedian changed my tastes significantly.

How old were you when you started writing?
I have no idea.  My earliest stories are in French, so before the third grade.

Describe your perfect evening.
Again with the absolutes!  I much prefer hanging in as to hanging out.  I’m a writer, so, a productive evening is a wonderful one.  I also like spending time with my lovely girlfriend, or having a group of friends over for games and brew.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Life and the acts involved in living.  I am always on the lookout for good ideas and usually have a number of things simmering in the back burners.  My girlfriend says that I’m always thinking about writing in one way or another and that she’s learned to recognize when I space out and continue the conversation when I come back to reality.  Have I mentioned how awesome she is?

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
I write.  Either in that work or something else.  Defy the empty page!  Worry about fixing what is broken once it exists!  If you don’t believe in writer’s block, it can’t believe in you.

Who is your favorite author?
I’m going to continue my trend of defiance and list several (in no particular order).  Brandon Sanderson, Kevin J Anderson, James Artemis Owen, Jim Butcher, JD Robb & Richelle Mead.  I’ve learned something from almost everything I’ve ever read.  Those folks in particular have taught me a lot.  I’m blessed enough to call some of them friends, and the lessons they have taught me off the page have been invaluable.

Best book you ever read. 
I made a joke about this earlier in the interview, and now you’ve done it!  I’ll behave this time, I promise.  If I had to pick one book, I’d say it’s The Way of Kings.  I’m not normally an epic fantasy guy, but the craftsmanship is exquisite, and there was one moment that garnered a great (both in appeal and magnitude) emotional reaction from me.  Books should make you feel, and this one did.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My mother.  She taught me to read, and in so doing taught me that I have to work hard for success or it has no meaning.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Benjamin Franklin.  He is a man who wore many hats, helped shape the future of several countries, and was brilliant.  I don’t know what I’d want to ask him, but rather shake his hand and buy him a beer.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Read and write a great deal, almost constantly if you can manage it.  Study your craft, your strengths and weaknesses, and then consciously seek to improve both.  When you look back on your old stuff and think that it is crap, take a moment to feel wonder at the realization.  When you wrote it, it was brilliant, right?  How much have you improved to realize that it is not?  Fear the day you look back and think you no longer can improve.

Media Outlets:

@NathanBarra on Twitter


  1. Thank you for visiting with us this morning, Nathan. You are a delight! We here at Vision and Verse wish you continued success in all your writing endeavors. Come back and see us again.

  2. I'm very glad to have been a part of your community!