Interview with Barry Smith

Author of “Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil”

Q: Can you tell us a bit about “Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil”

A: The basic premise for Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil involves a family law lawyer, Kyle Morrow, who undergoes past life regression as a harmless diversion. He discovers that he lived a previous life in Atlantis, but finds that a former adversary, an Atlantean sorcerer, has also incarnated in the present day. The adversary has recovered mystic knowledge from his previous life and plans to make Morrow pay for wrongs committed 10,000 years ago. Morrow is caught up in a battle that takes him far beyond the courtroom. He finds himself fighting for his loved ones, his life, his sanity, and ultimately his very soul. Unfortunately, Morrow doesn’t know who his adversary is in his present existence… is it a friend, a relative, or a shadowy stranger.

Q: How much of this novel is based on your own experience?

A: Twilight Dynasty was inspired by my own past life regressions. I have been regressed on numerous occasions. Included in these regression sessions was the exploration of my five Atlantean incarnations. My late regressionist was a college professor who, on occasion, used a lady psychic as an assistant with his regression therapy. Two of the characters in Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil are based upon my regressionist and this blonde psychic. I have also drawn upon my twenty plus years of practicing law to mold Morrow into a dynamic, but realistic, protagonist.

Q: What have been your other major sources of inspiration?

A: My writing style and my interest in the fantasy/horror genre was inspired at an early stage by the flamboyant writing styles of some of the best pulp fiction writers, most notably Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian and Kull of Atlantis) and H. P. Lovecraft (author of the Cthulhu Mythos as well as The Dunwich Horror). My challenge since that early influence has been to add realistic settings and believable characterization to such stories, without sacrificing the supernatural elements and the action-packed writing style. Just before I penned the final version of Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil, I read The Oath by Frank E. Peretti. Although a Christian author, Peretti’s writing is far from staid, conservative pap. Peretti employs a fast-paced style coupled with realistic settings. On the very edge of reality, the supernatural elements lurk. The Oath was some of the most heady and satisfying reading that I had enjoyed for some time. I never want my writing to become predictable or formula driven. Twilight Dynasty combines elements of adventure, horror, romance, sword & sorcery, fantasy, and suspense. I would categorize Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil as a supernatural thriller, with more unexpected twists and turns than a runaway rollercoaster.

Q: What are the dangers of past-life regression?

A: I have always been fascinated by the quirks of human nature. For example, most people believe what they want to believe, and hear what they want to hear. Very few people question information that supports their own world view. Shirley MacLaine and others channel spirit guides and accept the information that they supply at face value. Being a lawyer, however, I’ve been trained to be somewhat cynical and to test everything…in effect, to insist on corroboration for the testimony of a crucial witness. In many ways, Twilight Dynasty is a quest for truth, and therefore, involves questioning (or cross-examining) what we would otherwise assume as fact. Past life regression by its very nature involves being led by a spirit guide. It is, in essence, a spiritual journey. As any ghostbuster worth his (or her) salt will tell you, not all spirits are benign. Thus, the premise for Twilight Dynasty. What could happen if, by undergoing regression therapy, one ends up “Courting Evil”?

Q: What do you hope people will gain from reading this novel?

A: Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil is a cautionary tale. It dramatizes the dangers of conducting spiritual exploration without taking into account the inherent risks. Twilight Dynasty: Courting Evil, however, is written on several levels. It can simply be read as a fast-paced thriller. Other readers will enjoy it as a thought-provoking journey of discovery. Yet others will come to realize that the life-changing perspectives in Twilight Dynasty are far more than mere fantasy.

Q: Can you tell us a little about Twilight Dynasty’s Scandinavian heroine?

A: Blonde-haired, turquoise-eyed Tanya Jensen is not only charming and captivating for her looks, she is a psychic as well as a practicing witch. The “White Witch” links up with attorney Morrow to assist him in his battle with his mysterious adversary. But, does she have her own agenda in this power struggle?

Q: How has your background as an attorney affected your writing style and/or writing habits?

A: Attorneys work toward deadlines, such as trial dates, on a regular basis. They are also forced to structure convincing and logical arguments, often involving complex legal issues. These skills have allowed me to develop disciplined writing habits and multi-faceted storylines. As to writing style, my real life experiences, especially in the emotionally charged area of family law, have allowed me to tether my fantasy elements to our realistic day-to-day existence. As H.P. Lovecraft demonstrated, you don’t have to journey very far from our real world to come face-to-face with the frightening world of the supernatural. What style of writing might result from a collaboration between John Grisham and Stephen King? Why, the Barry H. Smith style of writing, of course :-)

Q: What do you see as the most challenging aspects of writing a novel?

A: As far as I’m concerned, a novel has to do more than tell a story. It has to grip the reader, so that the reader cares about the characters, feels their emotional highs and lows, and is concerned when the story takes them into uncharted territory. A concept or idea is not sufficient to bring a novel to life. If your characters do not live, neither will your story. Secondly, characters have to evolve from page one to the final chapter. Static characters cannot carry a plotline to a satisfactory climax. The longer the story, the more depth the characters must possess. I feel that motivated characters are the most challenging aspect of writing a novel. Luckily, with Twilight Dynasty I was able to put together a cast of characters who live and breathe. They are based on people and personality types who I have interacted with over my twenty plus years of legal practice, such as the bikers who I defended during my years in criminal law, and the shattered families who I encountered during my years in the family courts.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?

A: I just finished the first draft of “Twilight Dynasty: Temporal Justice”, the second book in the series. Fans of “Courting Evil” have demanded more of the same. I vowed to keep my writing fresh. This second tale therefore takes a different tact with similar subject matter. There’s a new rave drug on the street. It takes the user to a new high, to a spiritual plane, a very real spiritual plane. This book will give an all-new meaning to the phrase “first contact”.

I also write crime fiction, and have published short stories in such on-line magazines as Blue Murder magazine.

As a special treat to fans of the original Avengers (the British Cult T.V. show), I have posted a short story on my web site featuring a character based on Emma Peel, entitled “Twilight Town”.

Q: What has the Internet meant for you as an author?

A: In some ways, the Internet is like a vast collection of kiosks and boutiques, which allows authors to display their wares to people who they could never hope to reach, even by crisscrossing the world in a private jet. I have fans in Australia, Japan, Europe and throughout the United States and Canada who I correspond with on a regular basis through my web site at: http://www.twilight-dynasty.com

I believe that the Internet has opened up a more intimate world for authors and readers to interact. It has also leveled the playing field between small publishers and the large and, often impersonal, publishing houses.

Leave a Comment

css.php