...Interview Barry Lancet

This is Barry Lancet.

And this is Japantown! Buy it at this link.

Posted By:

Barry Lancet's debut thriller, JAPANTOWN, is a gigantic success. It's gone into at least four printings (three before it was even released), the novel has received praise from a variety of bestselling writers and publications, and it's been optioned by J.J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot (Lost, Alias, the recent Star Trek movies) for a television series.

On top of all that, Barry is a super nice guy. I met him when I joined the Debut Authors program of the International Thriller Writers, and he was friendly and accessible. Even though his novel just came out and he likely has a lot of better and more important things to do, Barry agreed to an interview for my blog:

What's your favorite joke? 

Well, my current one has been woven into the plot of JAPANTOWN, so it’s the exclusive terrain of readers of the book for the foreseeable future.  You won’t see it in interviews!

(Ed. Note: I've read the book so I know the joke, but I won't repeat it here. Instead, here's a different joke: Do oceans talk to each other? No, they just wave.)

Which authors, past or contemporary, do you turn to for inspiration?

I don’t really turn to any authors for inspiration, but there are a number I admire and like to read.  From the old school there’s Dostoyevsky, Hugo, Dumas, some Balzac, some Austen.  In current fiction it’s more on a book-by-book basis.  Contemporary mystery and thriller writers include Robert B. Parker, Elmore Leonard, Gregory McDonald (the Fletch series), Walter Mosley, and Lee Child. 

Newer voices in the genre I’m intrigued with include Michael Sears, Ethan Cross, Sara J. Henry, Taylor Stevens, Alan L. Lee, Kay Kendall, and a stack more on my desk. 

How do you procrastinate?

I have this bad habit of jumping up from my desk when things are going well—writing, research, whatever.  I’ll go in search of a fresh cup of coffee or a snack.  For the longest time I wasn’t aware of this form of self-sabotage, but now I catch myself in the act all the time.  Oddly enough, I still don’t actually notice I’m doing it until I’m about halfway to the kitchen.  At which time I stop myself, make a short circuit of the house, then turn around and get back to what I was doing. 

JAPANTOWN reads as if you meticulously researched Japan, everything from its history to its art to contemporary popular culture. How much of that came from your own experiences in Japan, and how much of it did you learn in writing the book?

I’m very careful to make sure every aspect is accurate.  But since I’ve lived and worked in Japan for more than twenty-five years, much of it is second nature.  Stir in my natural curiosity, the insights I’ve gained from editing countless books on all sorts of Japanese topics, the many behind-the-scenes chances I’ve been given, and you have a potent stew.   

J. J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions has optioned JAPANTOWN. Can you tell us anything about that (how it happened, potential air date, etc.)?

Bad Robot is in the planning stages of mapping out a quality TV series.  I met with a couple of their people and they were enthusiastic, serious, and ready to go.  They’d already started feeling out studios in Tokyo.  I have a consultancy role, which will come into play for the Japanese material.  I’m impressed with the quality of work they do, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they choose to frame the story and character.

Can you describe your best moment in publishing? 

Two moments of equal importance.  When my future agent called me in Tokyo from New York to express strong interest for all the right reasons, and when my editor called and did the exact same thing from the publishing side and bowled me over with her thoughts on the book.  For my wife, it all became real when Costco put in a large order for the book.  Go figure. 

What do you think about the changing nature of publishing?

I remember when videotapes first came on the market and everyone predicted the death of the movie.  That didn’t happen.  What happened was that movies became available in more formats, so more people watched more movies than they did previously. 

No one knows how things will wash out with books, but I’d like to think that e-books will have a similar effect—that written works will reach a wider audience, and people will buy more books, regardless of the format. 

The digital form makes books an easier lifestyle choice for some people.  The adjustable type size, the instant purchase point, and so on.  This should lead to more readers overall, never a bad thing.  Printed books are still much in demand, and should stay that way.  Ideally, as new readers emerge, the total combined sales should rise. 

Writers, too, have many more options.  If you are considering going the self-publishing route—and this can make sense for some people—do so after carefully choosing the best combination of offers out there.  And no matter what route you take, never publish a manuscript that hasn’t been gone over by a professional editorial eye because it is still your name on the cover. 

Looking back on your path to a debut novel, is there anything you would have done differently?

Finishing sooner would have been nice, but I was aiming high and that slowed me down.  Not a bad thing, in retrospect. 

Is there a motto or maxim you try to live by? 

Here’s three of my favorites:

1. I’ll try nearly anything once.

2. Consider both sides of an important choice.  If one side is going to churn up your insides, it’s the wrong one.

3. If you come to a chasm that impedes your progress, jump over it.  It’s not as wide as you think.


Thanks, Barry! For more information on Barry, you can check out his web site at this link.

See you in a week.


Back to the Blog

comments powered by Disqus


Michelle Davidson Argyle (writer)

Cathrina Constantine (writer)

Jenny Drummey (writer)

Kristen Elise (writer)

Sunny Frazier (writer, publisher)

Chris F. Holm (writer)

Maxim Jakubowski (writer, editor)

Sara Jones (musician)

Nik Korpon (writer)

Barry Lancet (writer)

Sommer Marsden (writer)

K.D. McCrite (writer)

Abby Mott (musician)

Alan Orloff (writer)

Alice Peck (editor)

Lucie Smoker (writer)

Ellie Ann Soderstrom (writer, editor)

Art Taylor (writer, critic)

Steve Weddle (writer)

Sarah Weinman (writer, critic)

My newest thriller is available now at the following sites:


Barnes and Noble


Black Opal Books

And booksellers everywhere.

Subscribe via RSS