Erik Storey is definitely one of my favorite new authors. After bursting onto the scene with last year’s hit debut novel, Nothing Short of Dying, Storey delivers the second novel in his Clyde Barr series, A Promise to Kill, taking his lead character to a whole new level.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with Storey ahead of today’s release. See the quick Q&A below, then keep scrolling to read why I think Clyde Barr is one of the genre’s most exciting new characters.
TRBS: Clyde Barr is a really phenomenal new character. How long did it take you to develop him in your head or on paper, before your first book (Nothing Short of Dying) came out last year?
Storey: “Thank you so much. I appreciate that you and other readers are taking a shine to Clyde. I wanted something different than what was already out there, so it took about three years’ worth of rewrites to get to the Clyde I wanted. It started when I was driving down a two-track road in the middle of nowhere in Western Colorado, listening to a thriller on CD, and started wondering why there aren’t thrillers set in the rugged country where I was driving. I also wanted a tough enough character to handle the country, but didn’t want him to be former Special Forces, or an ex-cop, or an international spy or assassin. Not because I don’t like those kinds of characters—I love them—but because I didn’t think I could write them as well as the other talented authors that you have on your website.
“So I decided to go in another direction, based on the books I loved growing up. I made him a wandering hunter that turns into a reluctant mercenary in Africa because his moral code doesn’t allow him to not help people in trouble. All of his skills were learned in the middle of nowhere or on third-world battlefields, or in a short stint in a Mexican prison. He has no formal training, but plenty of experience, and when he gets back to North America where he had planned on retiring, he has to use what he’s learned to help the people in his path who need help. I figured readers might be interested in something a little different.”
TRBS: This book has a really fascinating plot. Where did the idea come from?
Storey: “It started with the location. I knew I wanted to set it on the Ute reservation because it’s another region in my area that most people don’t know exists, and which others have very opinionated views about. After I had the setting, there was a lot of back-and-forth between me and my editor, trying to find a high-tension plot that could plausibly happen in the area. The technological parts were all inspired by articles I’d been reading about new military hardware getting ready to be sold. It’s interesting to write about high-tech terrors in a rural area full of many people like Clyde Barr who don’t care much for modern society.”
TRBS: Your character and writing style have both been compared to authors C.J. Box and Lee Child. Which authors do you enjoy, and what books are currently sitting on your nightstand?
Storey: “That is a huge compliment, considering how much I love Pickett and Reacher. I also read everything that James Lee Burke writes, as well as the great stuff put out by Andrew Vachss, Ken Bruen, Ace Atkins, Robert Crais, and Ben Coes. Lately, I’ve been reading the gritty crime books of the talented J. Todd Scott, Steph Post, Frank Bill, Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, Christa Faust, Rob Hart, Joe Clifford, Brian Panowich, Gabino Inglesias, and David Joy.”
TRBS: I know it’s early, but is there a chance readers might get to see Barr on the big (or small) screen someday, and who would be your dream casting choice to play Clyde?
Storey: “It’s a possibility, I guess. My agent does have a guy in LA shopping it around, but the odds are long. My wife and I spend a lot of time debating who we think would make a good Clyde, but we have yet to come to an agreement. It’s insanely hard to cast from book characters because everyone imagines them differently. That being said, I think Jason Momoa could pull it off (after recently watching Frontier on Netflix), or maybe Anson Mount (I loved Hell on Wheels). Maybe Charlie Hunnam (after watching SOA and The Lost City of Z) or one of the Hemsworths who have been in recent Westerns. Other than those, I have a hard time coming up with actors who match my own image of Clyde. I’d be very interested to hear from others who they think could play Mr. Barr.”
TRBS: Now that the book is out, what’s next for you? Do you take time off or start working on another novel?
Storey: “No time off. I’ve already written a couple of drafts for the next book, and it’s starting to come together. Still not done, but much closer. I don’t want to reveal what Clyde is up to just yet, though, in case I have to rework another draft. Let me just say that I really like this one, and I think readers will as well.”
First of all, if Storey ever gives me a vote, I would love to see Jason Momoa play Clyde Barr. That would be an awesome casting choice!
Obviously, my job requires me to read a lot of books. Typically, I knock out around one book per day, but it’s not quite that simple. Because we’re dedicated to bringing the best books to the attention of our followers, the bar is set very high–especially for debut novels. I pass on more than half of the books I’m sent, simply because I feel they don’t live up to the standard our followers demand.
I explain all that to say this: Erik Storey is the real deal.
I can still remember when Erik’s first book landed on my desk last year. I’m a huge fan of C.J. Box, and am always looking for the next modern western series that might be comparable to Box’s work. What I didn’t realize, at the time, is that Storey is the perfect blend of C.J. Box and Lee Child. In fact, the best way to describe Barr is that he’s Jack Reacher out west, with Box’s trademark approach to bringing the country setting to life by incorporating it into the story.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed Nothing Short of Dying. But the real question for me heading into the second Barr novel is whether or not Storey can reach the same level of success that he found with his hard-hitting debut. In the end, I think readers will agree, Storey took his character to new heights with book two.