A writer whose gam­ble paid off

Lin­wood Bar­clay rul­ing the best­seller list

Richmond Hill Post - - Books - by Mira Saraf

Although Lin­wood Bar­clay’s dreams of writ­ing nov­els date back as early as Grade 3, most peo­ple in Toronto still knew him first — and for those un­ac­cus­tomed to read­ing crime fic­tion, best — for his long-run­ning hu­mour col­umn in the Toronto Star. But since ditch­ing his day job and mak­ing his way as a full-time nov­el­ist, Bar­clay has be­come a bona fide star of the lit­er­ary world, sell­ing truck­loads of books across the planet. His sixth novel, No Safe House, is out now.

At var­i­ous in­ter­vals, over the course of a 30-year jour­nal­is­tic ca­reer, Bar­clay has re­ported, edited and writ­ten col­umns. In spite of putting out three hu­mour books (all col­umn in­spired), as well as a mem­oir, the itch to write fic­tion did not quite dis­ap­pear. So he fi­nally put pen to pa­per and pub­lished his first novel in 2004. For four gru­elling years he wrote three col­umns a week and one novel a year.

His fifth novel, No Time for Goodbye, changed the course of his ca­reer.

Not only was it the first one to be re­leased over­seas, but it went on to be­come a num­ber one best­seller in the United King­dom for 2008.

At this point, Bar­clay took a gam­ble by tak­ing a leave of ab­sence from his day job to fo­cus on writ­ing his next novel. Fate struck again as his ab­sence be­came per­ma­nent due to the buy-out op­tions the Toronto Star was of­fer­ing to re­duce in-house staff.

“I had been there 27 years and could leave with a year and a half ’s salary, and I was think­ing about leav­ing any­way be­cause the books had started to take off,” he says, “so I felt I could take a chance of just do­ing books full-time in­stead of do­ing col­umns.”

His lat­est, No Safe House, is ac­tu­ally the se­quel to that fifth piv­otal novel. It takes place seven years after the end of No Time

for Goodbye and al­lowed him to do two things. Firstly, there were two mi­nor char­ac­ters in No Time

for Goodbye that many read­ers liked: a thug named Vince and his step­daugh­ter Jane. The new novel gave Bar­clay the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop and build a story around them.

He also wanted to chal­lenge the common crime fic­tion no­tion that, once the mys­tery is solved, ev­ery­one lives hap­pily ever after. “I thought what hap­pened to the char­ac­ters in No

Time for Goodbye was so trau­matic that, even know­ing what hap­pened, it would not nec­es­sar­ily be some­thing that they could re­cover from,” he says. “There would be th­ese shock waves that went on for a long time.”

Bar­clay has also ex­per­i­mented with points of view in this lat­est story. The novel os­cil­lates be­tween Terry in first per­son and all the other char­ac­ters in third.

“As the reader, if you know peo­ple are plan­ning very bad things, then you can con­nect to the nar­ra­tor,” he says. “You want to say, ‘ Hey there’s some­thing you should be aware of,’ but you can’t tell them, so I think to bring in those other points of view is help­ful.”

If you bar­rel through No Safe House and are ea­gerly await­ing Bar­clay’s next book, you will not be dis­ap­pointed. A Bro­ken Prom­ise, the first in a tril­ogy, is slated for re­lease next sum­mer.

Bonus: if you’ve read and en­joyed his pre­vi­ous work, you may stum­ble across a few old fa­mil­iar faces.

Bar­clay’s suc­cess is a tes­ta­ment to hard work, a lit­tle bit of luck and most im­por­tantly a will­ing­ness to keep go­ing de­spite all ob­sta­cles.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Lin­wood Bar­clay check out his web­site at www.lin­wood­bar­clay.com.

Lin­wood Bar­clay was a jour­nal­ist for 30 years be­fore fate helped him be­come a full-time nov­el­ist

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