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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spotlight on Rick Barry and Kiriath's Quest

Today, I'm spotlighting an author with a book geared for readers aged 13-18. So, for those who enjoy fantasy or with teens and even children who might enjoy this, today is for you!


RICK BARRY, formerly a textbook editor, has published well over 200 freelance articles and short stories with various organizations, including Focus on the Family, Regular Baptist Press, Scripture Press, Answers in Genesis, and others. His first novel, a WW II adventure titled Gunner's Run, appeared in July 2007. His next novel is a YA fantasy titled Kiriath's Quest, and is set for release in December 2008. Currently he is working on a third novel for adults.

Rick enjoys traveling internationally and speaks Russian, French, and Spanish. His travels—plus personal adventures that include skydiving, rock-climbing in Colorado, and canoeing—provide much of the background and inspiration for his fiction.
He and his wife Pam are active in their local church. They have two grown children.

by Rick Barry
Published by JourneyForth


When King Jekoniah of Xandria is captured by evil Grishnaki, the royal family searches for a way to save him. The desired ransom is impossible, and outright war on the Grishnaki would end in disaster—so Prince Kiriath undertakes a secret mission into the Grishnaki's valley...

Buy Your Copy of Kiriath's Quest at Today!
Or Buy Your Copy direct from the publisher's web site.


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I guess you could say that, ultimately, J.R.R. Tolkien provided the inspiration. I discovered an old, 1950s edition of "The Hobbit" in our school library while in 5th grade. I loved the story, but it was such an old book that I figured he never wrote any others. Wrong! The summer after 6th grade I was browsing a bookstore and was astonished to stumble across a trilogy of 3 thick, shiny paperbacks called The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. I bought them and loved them. Those books ignited my appreciation for the craft of fantasy. My own novel, Kiriath's Quest, is much shorter than LOTR and is quite a different story, but I never would have written it without the foundation of fantasy that Tolkien laid so many decades ago.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

I find that my own experiences definitely influence my characters, regardless of whether I'm penning a contemporary short story, or a World War II novel, or in this case a fantasy involving a mythical realm. Because my character Kiriath sneaks into the subterranean lair of the evil Grishnaki, I needed real-life inspiration so I could "feel" what such a cave would be like. So my wife and I visited the "Lost Sea," which is an underground lake and system of caves about 45 minutes south of Knoxville, Kentucky. The sights, sounds, smells, and the general feel of that underground cavern provided fodder for that chapter of Kiriath's adventure. I've also done some mountain climbing and rappelling in Colorado, and those experiences likewise helped to fertilize my imagination for such a tale.

Also, though, as a Christian, my own worldview affects my entire outlook on writing. In a fantasy story, you can't have a character like Frodo Baggins getting down on one knee and asking Jesus to save him from sin. But a writer can still utilize Biblical principles involving love, justice, mercy, grace, etc., for the connecting threads of the literary tapestry he weaves with words. So Kiriath and his companions may be good people, but they are not perfect. They too experience flaws, fatigue, fear, and temptations just like people in our own world, but they still recognize the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.

Concerning aspects that are theirs alone, Kiriath and his sister face circumstances that I have never encountered. For instance, they must risk torture and death if they hope to rescue their father from the Grishnaki. They could save themselves—but only by allowing their loved one to perish.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Interesting question! If Kiriath were ice cream, he definitely would not be any of the standard chocolate, vanilla, strawberry flavors. But there is a special flavor that I recall from my childhood. In Michigan our family used to stop at a store called Richardson's Farm Dairy, and they had a long freezer case of fancy ice creams before Baskin Robbins came along. The one flavor they sold that might mirror Kiriath was called "Rocky Road" (because of the nuts and chocolate chips in it). Since Kiriath faces a rocky road in his quest, that is probably the ideal flavor for him.

4. What themes exist in Kiriath's Quest that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Several themes intertwine in this novel's pages. They include love, loyalty, faith, and family. Again, these are Biblical principles. A reader who is familiar with the Bible just might notice the Biblical parallels peeking out of some pages (in fact, in one or two passages, bits of dialogue paraphrase a couple proverbs). But I wanted to craft an adventure that would appeal to any young adult fan of fantasy, regardless of whether they attend church or not.

Probably each generation of teenagers in our real world takes its turn at being slightly embarrassed because of their "old-fashioned" parents. But Kiriath portrays a young man who loves his parents and is willing to risk all in order to save his father. I didn't realize it when I began writing, but I believe Kiriath provides a much-needed example in our society where so many people are increasingly wrapped up in themselves and self-centered ambitions.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Concerning difficulty, I discovered how tough it could be to create out of nothing a mythical world that has never existed before—but one that readers can still understand. I didn't need to do that in my WW II novel, Gunner's Run. In that book, the hard part was doing all the research about historical events that genuinely happened in order to paint the backdrop for the story realistically and factually. But in fantasy you don't want the fantasy world to be a mirror image of our own. You have to include enough overlap between reality and fantasy for readers to picture the places and events your pen describes, but you have to inject enough "other-worldly" elements to transport their minds to a time and place that has never existed. You can do this with bizarre plants, different foods, and different laws of physics. Some writers choose to emphasize magic as they fashion their imaginary world. So for me, this was the challenge.

My favorite chapter to write involves a battle scene between humans and the Grishnaki. In it, I didn't want simply to describe the sights and sounds of swinging swords and clashing shields. Today’s writers are more affected by television than they realize. However, TV presents only two senses: sights and sounds. I wanted readers of my battle scene to feel the sun's blazing heat as stinging sweat drips from their forehead into their eyes, to feel the sandpaper grittiness in their throat and to taste dust-laden air as they lunge forward or deflect sword strokes in an effort to survive the battle. I wanted them to feel the ache in weary limbs as they stumble, panting, to their knees and look up in time to see a leering enemy heft a spear pointed straight at them… In other words, I especially wanted this chapter to "come alive" in the reader’s brain using all senses, and not simply be a mental movie that they are watching and hearing.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The working title for my current project is "The Methuselah Experiment." It's a thriller aimed at adult readers. In World War II, a top Nazi scientist conducts life-extending experiments on captured Allied airmen. During a bombing, the scientist and most of the subjects perish. But one American pilot pulled from the rubble survives and heals amazingly quickly. The Methuselah process works, but the formula has been destroyed. Near the war's end, a group of Nazi officers establish a secret Organization and an underground lab in an effort to unlock the secret of Methuselah. The pilot, Roger Greene, finally manages to escape in our own 21st century, but he has escaped into a world he no longer understands and is on the run from Organization assassins assigned to kill him. The manuscript is done, and now I'm revising/polishing it, so there is no publication date yet. In other words, I need to get back to that job right now!

Thanks for the interview, Tiff! Again, if you think of anything else to ask, please feel free.

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Thank you, Rick, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Kiriath's Quest.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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Dawne said...

Primarily a fan of historical fiction, my interest has not been in fantasy books. However, with Rick's character descriptions and his desire to make the story more than a "mental movie," I'm intrigued and would like to read this novel. I was sure, though, that he was going to say "Blue Moon" for the ice cream flavor from Richardson's!

sam said...
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Anonymous said...

Sounds like alot of time and effort was put into this book. I can't wait to read it. Good luck with this book and the next.

windycindy said...

I like many science fiction/fantasty books! Thanks for introducing me to this author. Please add my name to your book drawing. Cindi

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually a fiction reader, much less a fantasy reader, but knowing Rick and reading some of his descriptions in the interview, I want to read this book! If the book draws you in like the clips in his interview did, I wouldn't want to miss it!

Adam Blumer said...

Oh, I love Tolkien and anything like it, so I'd love to read Rick's new novel. If it's as good as Gunner's Run, you don't want to miss it. Thank you for the interview.

Anonymous said...

This is a great opportunity to supercede the excitement over Harry Potter with Christian fantasy without the occult. Been looking for authors like you.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone, this is Rick Barry popping in to see if there are any comments on the interview. Quite a few already! Thanks for reading and showing interest. And judging from Dawne's comment, I see that I'm not the only one from SE Michigan with fond memories of the many flavors of ice cream at Richardson's Farm Dairy stores!

Kira said...

Great interview wiht Rick. I own a Christian Bookstore in Franklin, Indiana and was lucky enough to have Rick for a book siging. He is one of the nicest people. He took time to show me pictures from his many travels. I look forward to reading his book and hopefully having another book signing!

Nancy J Farrier said...

I hope I'm not to late to enter the contest. My girls love fantasy books. I've been trying to buy Rick's book for them and so has my sister, but we can't find it anywhere. Even the link you gave doesn't work for Amazon. Sigh. Anyway, the book sounds great Rick. I'll keep trying to find it. Nancy

Anonymous said...

I absolutely loved Gunner's Run and am eagerly looking forward to reading Rick's Quest book! Great author!

Anonymous said...

Nancy F. expressed frustration at not being able to order the book from Amazon yet. That's because the publisher just released it last week. Amazon's entry on it hasn't been updated yet. Other ways to order the book right now include directly from the publisher at this link:

Or by visiting my personal site and clicking the "Announcement" link. After the book's description there is another link where you can read Chapter 1 for free or else order the book. (Pssst! By visiting my author site you can also learn more about my WW II novel, Gunner's Run ;-)

Pamela J said...

Wow, Rick! You made that one sword fight spot come alive and it was just an example of how you write! I will definitely look forward to reading your book. I love a book that has Biblical principles within the story. We have even watched any number of movies and can discuss afterward the principles from Scripture that comes out. Good practice to do, also, because the more of God's principles one recognizes, the more they can be applied personally in one's own life.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

I loved Gunner's Run and recomended it to my boyfriend who also loved it. That's proof right there that Rick is an amazing wrighter - my boyfriend really doesn't like reading, but he read this book cover to cover. Knowing Rick, and reading this interview, I estimate for this book to be simply amazing! >.< I can't wait to read it!

Anonymous said...

Even a grandmother enjoys Rick's young adult books! When I read "Gunner's Run" to my two grandsons, 6 & 8, they acted out some of the parts and still quote from it! Looking forward to reading Kiriath's Quest to them - wonder what they will do? I enjoyed the interview. Thanks!

~The Foleys said...

This sounds awesome! I've long been a fan of fantasy in the order of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, but it is very hard to find anything even remotely approaching it quality wise these days. I look forward to reading it!


Jan Scott said...

I can't wait to read the book. The descriptions in the interview really paint a great picture.

Martha A. said...

I am excited! Are all your books published by BJU? They have some great books and will for sure be buying some of yours, especially the WW2 one!
please enter me!

Anonymous said...

Hi all, this is the author again. Just to follow up Martha's question, I do have 2 books published now with BJU Press under their JourneyForth imprint. And that has been a help to marketing, since readers who are familiar with their books trust them and know they will not contain "iffy" contents. Thanks for visiting this interview! --Rick Barry

ChristyJan said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview with Rick ~ please enter me to win an autographed copy of Kiriath's Quest.


Anonymous said...

I bought Gunner's Run for my best friend, who is a big WWII buff. But if I buy Kiriath's Quest, it will be for me, because I love fantasy! Sounds like a great book, especially the description of the battle scene. Looking forward to reading it.

Anonymous said...

Oops, and my email is Please enter me for the drawing, if it's not too late!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:


Congratulations! I've emailed you for your mailing information so we can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.

Anonymous said...

Woo-hoo! I am delighted to have won the copy of Rick's book! I am looking forward to receiving it!