Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve written and drawn over 75 comic books, including the classic series The Desert Peach, Stinz, and Hader and the Colonel. My characters include The Desert Peach, about Rommel’s fictional gay brother, and Stinz, a central-European-style Catholic farming centaur, as well as a male military harpy and his sidekick, a bunny suffering from a little too much magic. Prose novels include a Desert Peach Novel, “Bread and Swans,” a Stinz novel, “An Insupportable Light,” and a fictionalized memoir about my time in the 1970’s US army, “Permanent Party.”
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
I’m working on a book about The Bethlehem Incident. No, that’s not what it’s called – it’s just what it’s about. I discovered a key to reading the Jewish and Christian original mythologies that opens up doors to old questions. As I delved deeper into the stories, I saw the pieces fall into place. One of my writing rules is, “If it’s Funny It’s Right,” which means – the oddest things are likely to be true.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I like to put movies I’ve seen a thousand times into the Video player. The Christopher Walken “The Prophecy” series, “Red Dwarf,” and “Angels in America” especially provide pleasant backgrounds as I work, especially when I’m inking. 70’s and 80’s rock also freshen up my work attitude.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Read a lot of Kipling as a kid. He basically taught me to be unafraid of language and to Write What I Know. Be an original. If you have a good agent, she’ll figure out what genre you belong in.
What are you working on now?
A comic book about The Bethlehem Incident. I discovered something amusing and peculiar around the time and place of 0 CE. I found a key. The more I re-read the Christian part of the Jewish tribal library, using this key, the more the pieces began to fall into place. I was surprised by doors that opened up, clarifying things that have been a question for centuries. I found it all very amusing, and I think my readers will enjoy it, too.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
http://www.donnabarr.com which includes my bookstore links all over the internet. You can also find my work at Amazon.com
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Promote promote promote. You’re the one knows your work best. Nobody else will be able to tell your readers what you do as well as you do. When writing, slap down everything and anything you can think of. Let it get cold, and come back and edit it. You’ll be asking yourself editorial questions such as, “What the heck does THIS mean?” When you make it clear to yourself, you’ll make it clear to your reader. Go out and experience life, instead of reading other books. You’ll never find such wonderful dialog and such funny, confusing, complicated and horrible situations as you find in your own life. Get exercise every day. Sleep and eat properly. Share your ideas with readers, and let them help. You’ll never do research again once you get readers.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Patrick O’Brian (of the sea novels fame): “Write your novel, then throw away the first and last chapter.” Because the first chapter is just the author trying to make it clear to themselves – and the last chapter just ties up loose ends when life never does that. Loose ends also allow you to come back to the characters and their lives if your readers demand it and you get more inspiration from them.
What are you reading now?
“We are all Romans” by Carl J. Richard. It’s an overview of general Roman history, with an emphasis on law and religion, and how they’ve been transferred to present societies. I’m also using “SPQR” by Mary Beard, and “The Mode in Costume,” by R. Turner Wilcox.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m researching Rome its outlying provinces, as well as their common daily habits, costumes and legal situations, as well as the Jewish and Christian mythological texts, for a comic book about The Bethlehem Incident. I’m approaching the time and place in a way that I don’t think has been done before, at least not specifically. As a writer who always finds the amusing in human history, I suspect this story will be quite funny by the time I get done with it.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Crazy Weather, by Charles L. McNichols; Perfume, by Patrick Suskind; Plain Tales From the Hills, by Rudyard Kipling; and The Key to Chinese Cooking, by Irene Kuo.