Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brandon Barr and Mike Lynch interview

Please welcome authors Brandon Barr and Mike Lynch, co-authors of After The Cross, American Midnight, and When The Sky Fell!

NA: Welcome! What drew you to write in the adventure genre?

BB: Being a male and yearning for adventure go hand in hand in my mind. So in short, my nature drew me to the genre.

ML: I have to go with Brandon on this one. Most people love a good adventure story, myself included. I am typically drawn to stories with lots of action and exotic locations as the characters hunt for a hidden treasure. That's enough to hook most readers right there, myself included.

NA: What is unique in After the Cross compared to other adventure stories?

ML: I may be wrong here, but I've never heard of a story about the hunt for the Cross of Jesus. Usually, stories that focus on searching for treasure are about things of intrinsic value, such as gold, jewels or lost cities. The cross is a treasure that has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of people for the past 2,000 years. Because of that, it's value is beyond estimation.

BB: Well, I'd like to think the characters and the central storyline our both unique.

NA: As you look back on writing the books, what challenged you the most, and how did you get through it?

BB: Developing scenes where the characters are real and alive is always something hard to achieve. But overall, the sheer task of writing a novel is quite a challenge on its own. When I think of the length of a novel, somewhere in the vicinity of 100,000 words, and then think of how much I'm going to change and delete and revise so that the novel will match my desire to put out excellent work, then I sort of tremble at the massive amount of brain sweat I'm going to have to go through all the way to the end.

ML: I agree with Brandon. Working on any novel is a difficult challenge in of  itself. For me, the biggest challenge was getting the end of the story right. You have four people searching for the cross for very different reasons. Some for the right reasons. Some for the wrong reasons. Which characters will get what they want, and which will be disappointed? If we got this wrong, it would have soured a lot of people on the story. We also had to take into account that we are dealing with the Cross of Jesus. Brandon and I were careful to treat the subject matter with the utmost respect, but also have an ending that we believe is very satisfying.

Mike - Author Photo Small.jpg 
NA: Which character was the hardest to write? And which was the easiest?

BB: Between Colton and Mallory it was Colton who was the hardest to write.

ML: Yeah, I think Colton was the most difficult to write for me as well. He is a believer who is trying to live a right life before God. The other main characters are all very flawed, and have dark traits associated with their personalities. As a writer, I find it much easier to create people like that in my stories. When they do something wrong, it grabs our attention. However, if someone doesn't lie or do things he believes are sinful, that character can come across as bland and uninteresting. It takes a lot of extra effort to make a good person come across as interesting in the story in my opinion.

NA: If you could be any character in your books, who would it be? 

ML: I am most drawn to Mallory Windom. She is a person who lives life by her own rules, and has a laser beam-like ability to go after the things she wants.

BB: I think I'd choose a more obscure character from one of the flashbacks. One of the library monks who worked at the Constantinople Library. All that ancient literature and knowledge would have been quite fascinating.

NA: Do you know any languages fluently, apart from English? 

ML: Bad English. Does Klingon count?

BB: Nope.

NA: Do you have any involvement in the archaeological line of work?

BB: I wanted to be an archeologist when I was in elementary school. Does that count? Oh, and I also took a class in college pertaining to the subject.

ML: I wish I did. I have often thought about going to Israel and helping out on an archeological dig. If you are willing to pay your own way, many dig sites let amateurs help with the work.

NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?

ML: I can juggle, ride a unicycle, and refuse to own a cell phone.

1) I work in a warehouse.
2) When I listen to my Ipod (or any other sound device) I'm usually listening to a philosopher, theologian, or scientist. Debates over the existence of God are a favorite too.
3) My favorite book is a historical fantasy by Lars Walker titled "The Year of the Warrior". Talk about Adventure, theology and dazzling writing! Right up my alley.

NA: How easy was it to co-author a book for the second time?
BB: Definitely easier the second time around. Always challenging of course. But, writing a book is inherently full of obstacles.

ML: This is actually our third book together, and like Brandon said, gets easier the more we do it. It's just a matter of learning how the other person works, and making sure we are in agreement about the story and characters as we write each chapter. This way, it minimizes re-writes and taking the story in wrong directions, not that it still doesn't happen.

NA: Do you have future book plans or ideas?

ML: Brandon and I are currently working on a sequel to our first novel, When the Sky Fell.

BB: Like Mike said :)

NA: Do you have any advice to those wanting to write in the adventure genre?

ML: Though it is not unique to adventure stories, you have to know your characters, who they are and where they've come from, and how that connects with the adventure they're on. In our case, our main protagonist, Colton Foster, nearly ruined his career as a medieval linguist when he allowed priceless artifacts to be stolen. Searching for the cross is the way he is seeking to redeem himself in the eyes of the world. And because the main focus of the story is based in the past, we also made sure the main characters have a strong tie to history in some way. Whatever story a writer creates, the characters and main elements all need to be tied together in interesting and engaging ways.

BB: If you want to write scenes from locations where you've never been, the internet is your best friend. For instance, one scene I wrote was in a Turkish port city, so I looked up the city, found some of the actual shops in business there, and got a feel for the sights and smells I'd encounter.
Also, Google Maps is great for describing terrain in a specific area. Mike and I used it extensively when describing north/south/east/west directions in Israel. And we also used it to locate unique terrain features so that our descriptions of real places would be accurate, giving the impression we had been there ourselves.

NA: It's been great to have you! Do you have any final words for our readers?

BB: Thanks for taking the time to read our interview. Hope it was interesting in some way.

ML: If any of your readers do get a chance to read After the Cross, we'd love to hear from them. Brandon and I always enjoy getting feedback on our stories. You can reach us at or And thanks to you Noah for giving us this chance to let people know about our latest novel. Keep up the good work.


  1. Awesome interview! I'll have to look into this book; co-authoring was something I tried once upon a time...never did give it another go since my partner & I didn't agree on a lot of things. I think it's important that the person you work with is similar minded to you & that you both are able to walk to the middle ground when you come to a debatable place. *applauds* I definitely applaud these men for working together on a book that sounds intriguing/difficult to write on :)

    Thanks for the interview, Noah!


  2. Noah,

    Thanks again for doing the interview. And for Squeaks, I couldn't agree with you more. If Brandon and I couldn't agree on characters or the story, I don't think we could work together as authors.