IndieView with G.P. Burdon, author of Barren

I actually have to credit a good friend of mine for that. Years ago, when we were still in High School, the movie Waterworld had come out and we were talking about it. My friend suggested there should be a new movie where it’s the opposite and instead of a world of water, there’s a world with no water. 

G.P. Burdon – 30 March 2017

The Back Flap

Leaving a dying Earth behind them, the remnants of humanity head towards their new home on a distant planet. However, they never reach it, instead crash landing on a barren and hostile planet on which no human was ever meant to survive. With no water, and no hope, they must find a way to keep the human race alive in the wastelands of Icarus.

Mackenzie Miller leaves behind the only life she knows to join the Diviners in their search for water, wandering directly into the greatest dangers Icarus can offer. Though there’s more to worry about on Icarus than just dehydration. When Mackenzie learns what truly lurks in the deserts, dying of thirst is the least of her concerns.

About the book

What is the book about?

Barren is a science fiction story about humans traveling to another planet to colonize and save the race. But on the way, they end up crash landing on a desert world where no human should have ever set foot. Earth is gone and there are no other humans left to come save them, so they are forced to try and survive on a dead planet with next to no water. The planet is full of dangers, like deadly sandstorms, vicious alien animals, just the heat is enough to kill you. But the real story is about a separate faction of humanity that has become ruthless and cruel in their efforts to survive. So even though they’re on an alien world with no water and any day could be their last, the real danger to mankind comes from the same place it always has. Itself.  

When did you start writing the book?

I began writing Barren in early 2016.

How long did it take you to write it?

I think it took me roughly six months or so, writing for at least two hours per day. Not including time spent researching, of course.

Where did you get the idea from?

I actually have to credit a good friend of mine for that. Years ago, when we were still in High School, the movie Waterworld had come out and we were talking about it. My friend suggested there should be a new movie where it’s the opposite and instead of a world of water, there’s a world with no water. That was kind of the foundation for the idea. What if humans had to survive with little or no water? So I took that as my starting point and started building a story around it.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Oh yes, definitely. Particularly parts where I needed to ensure accuracy in anything scientific. I actually read a full report from NASA regarding an aspect of the story that I wanted to make sure I got absolutely right, and I have to say, those people at NASA might as well be speaking a different language. I made it through, though.

What came easily?

The characters always come easily to me, somehow. Their personalities just seem to happen, I hardly ever have to force a particular trait.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

Most characters are entirely fictitious, but there are exceptions. Sometimes I will have a character or two who remind me of someone I know, so I just go with it and let that person show in the character. I also occasionally name a character after one of my readers who is regularly active with me on social media. In Barren, for example, there is a character named after one of my readers from New York. She seemed pleased when I asked her if she was happy for me to do that, so hopefully she is still happy after reading her name on the page.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Definitely Stephen King, he is my author goal. But I’d say at an early age, I was influenced in my writing style by R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps books. Together, both authors have shaped me into writing in an engaging way, as well as providing twists that readers won’t see coming (hopefully).

Do you have a target reader?

Just anyone who loves to read. I don’t stick to just one genre, so I don’t think I should limit myself to just one reader, either.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I’m not sure if it’s a process so much as an obsession. When I have an idea, I stew over it for weeks until I know every detail of what I want to write, including characters. Then I work out precise events that have to happen for the story to play out like I want. Then I start writing and connect the dots.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I generally outline my chapters with dot points, just briefly stating key events that need to happen, so I don’t get carried away while writing and either give away too much or too little. And keeping the reader engaged is always a plus.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I mostly wait until I’ve completed my first draft before editing, unless I happen to see some glaringly obvious mistake. Like I spelled a character’s name wrong or I notice some horrible inconsistency. Then I have to fix it right away.

Did you hire a professional editor?

Not a professional editor, but I do have friends/relatives who act as beta readers for me. They have university qualifications in editing, so even though that’s not their profession, I find them to be very helpful. I self-edit as well, of course, but having someone else look at your work is invaluable.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I find that if music is playing while I write, I tend to get distracted. I’m more productive with ambient sounds. I mostly write on the train, so I guess I’ve gotten used to those noises.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I have done in the past, but lately I haven’t had the time. Between writing and my day job, it’s difficult to find the time and energy to submit to agents. I am planning on doing so again soon, though.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I suppose impatience was the catalyst. I had just written my first fantasy novel and I was really excited about it. I submitted query letters to a few agents, but no takers, unfortunately. Then I heard about self-publishing through Amazon and Kindle. I just wanted people to read my work, so I self-published. The response was far more positive than I expected, it’s still my most popular book, even years later.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I do my book covers myself, with some help from family more talented than me.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Mostly winging it, it’s how I roll.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Just keep writing. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. And when you’re not writing, make time for reading. Writing is a marathon, and reading is the stretching you do beforehand.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the south of the island state of Tasmania in Australia. There were literally more cows there than people.

Where do you live now?

Now I live in Melbourne, Australia. There are considerably fewer cows.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I’m always happy to talk to any readers, so if you want to contact me through my social media channels, please do.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the second book in my science fiction trilogy, titled Hostile.

End of Interview:

Get your copy of Barren from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

One response to “IndieView with G.P. Burdon, author of Barren

  1. “Years ago, when we were still in High School, the movie Waterworld had come out and we were talking about it. My friend suggested there should be a new movie where it’s the opposite and instead of a world of water, there’s a world with no water.”

    There was a whole series of books about a world with no water: Dune and its sequels. Excellently imagined based, presumably, on Egypt’s Western Desert. Up to a point. I even enjoyed the movie (Sting and Kyle MacLachlan come immediately to mind).

    Which is not to say that there is no room for another :-). Waterworld (which was an original screenplay: hooray!) followed some years after Drowned World (a book /novella by JG Ballard).

    I look forward to reading ‘Barren’.