Barry is now seventy-four so I’ll just skip across his life. I’m sure if you ask him he won’t say he has done anything of note but let me just explore that. He was born the fifth of November 1938. He was a couple of weeks premature due to some kids throwing fireworks. A banger frightened a bulldog that bit his mother and he was on his way, his mother having been taken to Honeypot Lane Maternity Hospital.
He was christened Barry Edgar Johnson. Shortly after that war was declared. This, he claims had absolutely nothing to do with him but it did have a massive influence on his life.
Barry’s mother was a tailoress and took up with a guy working the black market and her skills were vital. His Gran called her a gangster’s moll. Powder puffs were an excluded item during rationing so some of the housebreakers and burglars used to steal furs and sheepskins etc. and his mother made fancy powder puffs for wealthy ladies. How did this affect him? At regular intervals the black marketeer was arrested, and Barry was put into homes. His gran used to get him out and a few months later it would happen again so when he should be learning in school he wasn’t. The only thing that did happen to him when he was with his mum was the Germans decided to bomb the mews they lived in. His skull was badly fractured and he says if he goes bald people will think he is from Star Trek. At seven he contracted TB so was put into an open-air convalescent home. This was a pre-antibiotics time so fresh air and nourishing food was the cure. He says he just got better to get warm.
The criminal went to prison but bought his mother a shop (Newsagents). His mother met Bert Smith, got pregnant and married him and Barry came home. His Mother had some money now so sent him to Lower Latimer School and they tried to educate him but before they made much progress the family moved to Sussex and he went to the village school in Rottingdean in a class, he says, that must have had fifty kids in it. Still he could swim and captained the school swimming team and they won the Brighton championship that year. He also was the captain of the football team.
With a fragmented early education he stood no hope of passing the eleven plus so he spent a year at Whitehawk secondary modern school. The only thing the school did was sharpen his fighting skills. He swam for the school (the only boy that won anything) and he played football for the school. He also came top of the class, One A despite playing hooky on Mondays and Fridays. After a year they moved to Newhaven and he went to Newhaven Secondary modern school into 2A. At Christmas they jumped him into 3A and the following summer he went to Lewes County Grammar School for Boys into the third year that was called the forth year because of the crazy numbering system they had.
The Grammar School was a different world; he loved it. It was all about tough intellectual challenge and sport. He joined the Army Cadets and became a corporal. Played Rugby for the school, was the school swimming champion, winner of the Sinfield Cup, and taught other boys to swim on sports afternoons in the summer. Then they had to wear swimming trunks because the girls from the secondary modern school went onto the roof of their school to watch the boys swim in the nude. Barry thought the binoculars were over the top.
The school leaving age was fifteen then, so his stepfather, Bert, expected him to leave school. ‘Thrasher’ Thompson invited his stepfather to come to the school on an open day. His parents had never visited the school. Bert was blown away. Barry had his name on an honours board. He appeared on photos next to trophies and photos of the cadets winning things so he agreed Barry could stay another year and take ‘O’ levels. He did and got eight subjects. He says it was a cheat really as some of them overlapped like physics and applied maths.
In his final year at school Barry had to think about what he was going to do. The only thing he knew was he wanted to leave home.
Barry joined the Royal Navy as an Artificer Apprentice. It was renowned then as the best apprenticeship in the country. He not only gained entry but also managed to get selected into the Fleet Air Arm for which the selection was tougher. He did a five-year apprenticeship four of those in a RN training establishment. The top quarter of the class would be selected as engineering officers. Barry passed out in the top four but by then he was married and didn’t see the Navy as the life he wanted but he had to serve until he was thirty.
Barry had a great Naval career and was a Chief Petty Officer at twenty-three. Of the fourteen years he served the Navy trained him for seven so he ended up with a whole bunch of qualifications.
Barry’s thirtieth birthday was approaching. The Navy once again offered him a commission and BOAC (now British Airways) offered him a job as a technical training officer training pilots, flight engineers and licenced aircraft engineers to the required CAA licence standards. BOAC created a learning environment and he achieved a degree in psychology, a teaching qualification and some other qualifications.
To gain broader industry experience Barry joined the Food, Drink and Tobacco Industry Training Board (A Government QUANGO) that the Government closed – he claims it wasn’t his fault.
Barry job-hunted, had some offers and joined STC as the Training Manager of their largest site (5000+ people). While at STC he became a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Member of the Chartered Management Institute. STC was taken over by Nortel and Barry was moved to the European HQ to become the Senior Manager of the European Learning Institute. Nortel was the most progressive telecommunications company in the world and then the Canadian Board sacked the CEO (he got his PA pregnant). The company made the classic mistake and appointed an accountant, and Nortel started to go down the tubes. The Learning Institute was closed in every geographical zone so Barry was redundant.
With three people that Barry describes as wonderful they set up Learning Partners in 1994. Their aim was to design and apply assessment centres and run people development programmes. They thrived by staying small and focused around three clear values – make a difference, have fun and earn some money. Barry says they didn’t get paid a lot of money but they built a solid reputation and worked for some very good companies. Learning Partners is still a thriving consultancy primarily working internationally. Barry retired and now he writes, using the varied experiences he has had.
And now from the author himself:
Writing and my goals as a writer
I don’t think I even considered writing anything until I went to the grammar school. I don’t suppose I would have had any interest then if it hadn’t been for my English teacher, Colin Silk. Not that I did anything about it for many years. I can remember him sitting cross-legged on a desk in the front of the class as selected members of the class took parts in a Shakespeare play. He knew the plays by heart and if you read anything incorrectly he would correct you. The other thing he would do is insist I spoke correctly. “Johnson, ring your ‘ings’,” or “Johnson, explode your ‘bees’.” I learned to speak two languages from Colin Silk, the one I spoke in school and the one I spoke at home. What a foundation for now. In writing dialogue I think back and adapt to the character I have speaking. Colin Silk was my hero, the man I admired most. He had survived the Burma-Siam railway and the evil treatment by the Japanese and had no hatred or even resentment of them. He was my role model for life that I’ve never been able to live up to but I have tried. I suppose Jake Robinson, the protagonist of my thrillers, owes much to my view of Colin Silk.
Colin Silk got me through ‘O’ level English language. He knew I had mild dyslexia but nobody spoke about those things back in the early 1950s but his encouragement guided me in writing essays though he did chide me for writing short stories instead of essays. So I had an inbuilt recognition of what a story was.
When I look back I suppose I’ve always enjoyed writing, I just got a kick out of writing home when I was at sea describing what I had seen and where I had been and I knew the readers of my letters enjoyed them and had a laugh, well I did exaggerate just a bit.
I can remember when I worked for STC having to write my monthly report. I would do a different style each month, a sermon one month, the format of the report of a football match the next month and most of my bosses enjoyed this. Mind you some didn’t. It was interesting that I was asked to write papers and brochures for the departments and when thing got really tough a report of what had gone wrong and for that I had to interview miscreants and I suppose I learned a lot there that I can use now.
In Learning Partners I just loved writing, the challenge of putting together the ideas, the very process of writing, together with the research needed. I have written training and guidance material, courses, assessment centre scenarios and assessment guides. Over the years I have written over fifty published professional articles always supported by another director of Learning Partners and the feedback and advice has always caused me to think and rewrite so what I wanted to achieve could be achieved with both learners and fully experienced professionals.
I wrote a newsletter for the retirement village I live in that included short stories both fiction and non-fiction, audience was key to that.
I started writing full-length novels in 2009. This was about interest rather than with publication in mind. I wrote four historical fiction novels with a single central character and the theme was the Trojan wars. These I may revisit and rewrite. I’d always done research in my former professional life so, I suppose I was used to that. I even had the third one published and gave it to friends just to see if I could write.
The Jake Robinson series I started in 2010. I had no idea how to write a thriller. I just started with an idea. Supposing bird flue was modified so it could be transmitted between people and a terrorist group decided to use it. Simple idea. So I sat down one afternoon and started writing a novel, not planned had no idea about who was going to do what or when, I just did it. That was the fun, The JBDI approach (Just Bloody Do It). The shear excitement of wondering where it was going next and the sheer surprize when it happened. The first thriller that I wrote and the one that will be the last in the series, Venom 27, I had published privately and I have given it to friends and relations with very positive feedback but that might be expected from friends and relations. Why the last in the series – the nature of the story dictated that.
The first one spawned the next three. I thought others may arise and they have. These had the goal of eventual publication. So I chanced my arm and Wherein Lies Justice has been published by Book Guild; with the sort of support and advice that a publishing company gives you.
I love the feeling that here is something complete and achieved that then triggers another idea for a novel.
I get a kick from the idea that others may enjoy reading what I have written and perhaps, in my arrogance, that they may discover something, for or of themselves, from the novels.
The hope I will get pleasure from seeing a book I have written in a bookshop and those who have read my attempts have encouraged me to go down that route.
Lastly the chance that I might earn some money to enable me to get for my wife the things she wants more than anything else.
I have no interest, no skills and no motivation to venture into the field of marketing and selling of my books. I have a need for an agent who has the skills, interest and motivation to market and sell that which I can produce. So lets try another one.
I then invited Barry to include an extract from his book…
I came to a dead stop in the doorway, looking at a lady’s handgun pointing at me. It was rock steady. Her body was square to me with her feet wide apart and knees bent.
She had her arms extended and was using a firm, double-handed grip. The weapon was pointing at my head and was brought down slowly to my chest. Now this was worrying. I felt my stomach contract and my heart beating fast. Less worrying was the expression on her face, which indicated that she was at least as scared as me. The difference was that I’d been here before.
‘Wherein Lies Justice’ is available from…
and you can find out more about Barry and his writing from…
- his publisher (Book Guild Publishing): www.bookguild.co.uk
- and his book link there: www.bookguild.co.uk/wherein-lies-justice-pr-1339.html
If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/submission-information/opportunities-on-this-blog (the spotlights are option (a)) or email me for details.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.