Ada Brownell's Interview with novelist Rick Barry. But first, the summary of his new book.
Premise of The Methuselah Project:
In World War II, Nazi scientists started many experiments. One never ended.
Roger Greene is a war hero. Raised in an orphanage, the only birthright he knows is the feeling that he was born to fly. Flying against the Axis Powers in World War II is everything he always dreamed--until the day he’s shot down and lands in the hands of the enemy.
When Allied bombs destroy both his prison and the mad genius experimenting on POWs, Roger survives. Within hours, his wounds miraculously heal, thanks to those experiments. The Methuselah Project is a success—but this ace is still not free. Seventy years later, Roger hasn’t aged a day, but he has nearly gone insane. This isn’t Captain America—just a lousy existence made passable only by a newfound faith. The Bible provides the only reliable anchor for Roger’s sanity and his soul. When he finally escapes, there’s no angelic promise or personal prophecy of deliverance, just confusion. It’s 2015—and the world has become an unrecognizable place.
Katherine Mueller—crack shot, genius, and real Southern Belle—offers to help him find his way home. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? Can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?
Thrown right into pulse-pounding action from the first page, readers will find themselves transported back in time to a believable, full-colored past, and then catapulted into the present once more. The historical back-and-forth adds a constantly moving element of suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
How do you create your characters?
It’s safe to say I generally create characters based on need. For instance, for The Methuselah Project I began with all the general details needed for my hero, Roger Greene. (The last name is symbolic. Green is the color of life, and Roger lives a very long time in the story.) The protagonist had to be a fighter pilot in Europe in WWII. From there, I had to pick an exact year (1943), and research told me which kinds of American fighter planes were involved in the air war at that time. I assigned him to an actual unit with a specific airplane. Lastly I fleshed out the actual man with character traits, hair color and eye color. (Incidentally, I had to change his eye color at the last minute. The model used for Roger on the cover has blue eyes, but the manuscript said brown. I adjusted to match the cover art!)
What part of a character’s personality is most important? Second? Third?
As a Christian, I’d say a character’s relationship (or lack of one) with God is most important. That will color the person’s whole perspective and guide actions. Next, I want to know whether this person is likeable. If so, the author can’t just say this is a likeable character. You have to show the person acting in an admirable way, or perhaps showing how well other characters respond to him. Past that, I would say that each person’s motivation is crucial. All characters want something and won’t be happy unless they get it. A couch potato with no goal or ambitions would make a boring character.
Tell us about your new book, The Methuselah Project, released today, and let us meet a character or two.
The story is a blend of suspense and romance, with a light touch of the speculative. When ace fighter pilot Roger Greene gets shot down, the Germans don’t take him to a POW camp. They turn Roger into an unwilling guinea pig in a secret experiment intended to outlast the war. Katherine Mueller is the attractive woman who befriends Roger and helps him. Both of them were raised as orphans, but for very different reasons.
Who is your favorite created character?
That is definitely Captain Roger Greene. Roger is handsome, but oblivious to that fact. He is skilled at flying aircraft, yet his self-confidence is undermined my underlying questions about why he grew up in an orphanage without parents. Was he unwanted? Illegitimate? His sense of humor is part of his resilience.
What is the most aggravating personality trait? Why do you allow your character to possess it?
In my story, occasionally Roger gets impatient with Katherine, the woman who helps him but doesn’t totally buy his story. At one point he practically growls at her in frustration. I allow that because (a) nobody floats through life without ever experiencing impatience or anger, so this is realistic, and (b) after being held prisoner for many years, a man is going to have some pent-up issues, not matter how swell a guy he is.
Is Gunners Run a best seller? How many books do you have?
Gunner’s Run was my second book, another WWII story. I’m sure it doesn’t qualify as a best seller. However, since 2007 it has remained in print and continues to sell each year. One school administrator told me that her school makes it required reading as part of their curriculum. Now if only all schools would do that!
In all, I have three published novels.
Are you a full-time writer? Tell us about it if you have a job.
No, I write only in my spare minutes—when I can find them. Since 2004 my full-time position has been as one of the directors of a Christian mission to Russian-speaking lands. I speak Russian, and every summer it is my privilege to travel to Russian or Ukraine or Belarus to participate in Christian camps for children or teens.
You have wide experiences in doing the challenging. Tell us a little about it.
I confess to enjoying new experiences. I have jumped out of perfectly good airplanes (by myself, none of that tandem jumping for me!), I have climbed a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado, and traveled in Europe, South America, and Central Asia. (I long to visit Mongolia.) Earlier this year, I was offered a chance to be an extra in the upcoming Captain America 3 movie, which was extremely interesting to me as a writer.
Anything you would like to add?
I invite your readers to visit my website, www.rickcbarry.com. There they can learn more about my books, which are geared not just to entertain, but to inspire! I’m also developing a page called Fun Freebies they’ll want to check out.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Ada! It’s been a pleasure to be here.
Rick Barry and his wife Pam have been involved in ministries to Russian-speaking lands since 1987. Rick speaks Russian, and every summer he works in Christian children’s camps in Eastern Europe.
Rick is the author of three novels: The Methuselah Project, Gunner’s Run, and Kiriath’s Quest, plus over 200 articles and short fiction pieces. Rick and Pam live near Indianapolis.