Author, Greg Bardsley, debuts his sense of adventure (and sense of humor) with his crime caper, CASH OUT, released last month from Harper Perennial. A former reporter and speechwriter, he’s taken what he knows and strapped it to some high intensity wheels for quite a ride for the intrepid reader. He’s a busy man, but fortunately, we caught him on his way out the door…
We’d like to thank him for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.
AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?
Greg: In eighth–grade, I wrote for the school “newspaper” and pitched to do a feature on the head custodian, a cool guy named Ralph. So I came up with a feature called The Ralph Report. All I recall is writing something like, “Ralph has a Z28 from ’78.” I also recall there being a showdown between Ralph, who was a low-rider, and another young custodian at the school, who was a high-rider (with a Chevy, I think) and trying to write about the rivalry. But that piece never ran.
AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.
Greg: Harper Perennial has just released my debut novel, Cash Out. It’s about a working stiff who’s found himself at a white-hot startup in Silicon Valley. He only has three days left until his stock options vest to the tune of $1.1 million. He thinks it will be an easy three days–so easy, in fact, that he gets a vasectomy during that time. But then things go awry, starting with a pack of elfin IT geeks who try to blackmail him into a series of ill-advised activities. If he fails to keep the geeks happy, they will release some of his online activity to his employer, which will get him fired just days before he can cash out. …Oh, the novel also involves spry older men in skin-colored Speedos, toilet sabotage, irresponsible use of canine pressure collars and small men getting shaved against their will. From what I understand, this would not be categorized as a “cozy.”
AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?
Greg: I think getting out of my “ecosystem” helped a ton. There was a time when all I did as an aspiring author was focus on novels. That worked out okay. With my second unpublished manuscript, I found an agent, who suggested that I should try getting some short stories published. I really hadn’t given that any thought, as I was so focused on writing a successful novel and hadn’t seen a lot of fun and interesting crime shorts. But I gave it a try and found that I loved it. Getting shorts out there allowed me to experiment with different characters, voices and stories, and do so without the massive upfront time and emotional investment of writing a novel. And the payoff was far more immediate—you could write a short, share with friends, revise the short, submit to journals and ’zines, and sometimes see it published in a matter of months.
The shorts also helped me develop Cash Out. Some of my more popular short-story characters (Crazy Larry, Calhoun, Janice from Finance, Stephen Fitzroy) ended up playing important roles in the novel.
But most importantly, the shorts allowed me to meet an amazing group of likeminded writers who were eager to help one another. Over the course of years, our community grew and strengthened, and one day at a conference one such author introduced me to David Hale Smith, the agent who would sell Cash Out to Harper Perennial nearly two years later.
So if I look back at how Cash Out came to be on the shelves, it all started with getting out of my regular ecosystem.
AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?
Greg: I have a day job and a family. So I’m busy and have little time. That means I usually write my fiction late at night, after my wife and kids had fallen asleep. With Cash Out, some days I wrote at lunch, or when the family was out for an hour. Some nights I couldn’t stop, and I’d write into the very early morning. The first draft of Cash Out was written during a thousand stolen moments over the course of a few years.
AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?
Greg: Write. Write a lot. Then write some more. Ask for feedback from people you trust. Listen to the feedback. Write some more. Have fun. Keep writing. Try different types of writing. Solicit more feedback. Have more fun with your writing, and with the process. Create a writing life that is rewarding no matter how much (or little) external success you realize. Diversify your emotional investments with writing (i.e., pursue shorts and novels, for instance). Celebrate your milestones, whether it is completing a story, getting a nibble or a nice comment. Then write some more. And have fun.