John Barlow's fiction and non-fiction prior to the LS9 series, most recent works first.
A novel for Mid-Grade / YA readers, ISLANDERS is a dystopian adventure about
a boy's search for his father. It is set in a world devestated by germ warefare, in which biological mutations have shifted the balance of Nature in unpredictable ways.
[JB: This book began life as a commission for the New York-based media company Alloy Entertainment, which produces the SWEET VALLEY HIGH book series and films like THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES. They paid me ten grand to write a first draft, then decided they didn't like it, and suggested I pay back the money. Which I never.
Read all about the fun I had with the guys at Alloy here.]
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EVERYTHING BUT THE SQUEAL
Everything But The Squeal' makes you want to get on the next flight to Santiago de Compestella and find that restaurant to eat Cocido! Rick Stein
A travelogue, food book, and memoir about Galicia, northern Spain. First published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux in the US. EVERYTHING BUT THE SQUEAL was a finalist in the Best Food Book section of the Cordon Bleu World Food Awards, 2010.
[JB: It didn't bloody win, though. On the other hand, the book did generate quite a lot of interest, despite its niche appeal, and led to some interesting work in the area of food writing, as well as to quite a lot of press around the world. I still do the odd speaking engagement about the book and/or related themes, and people still write to me about it. All things considered, a happy experience.]
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WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO?
Farewell My Lovely meets Californication.
Meet Jack Storm PhD, disgraced ex-college professor and unlicensed PI. Since getting turfed out of Berkeley for violent misconduct, Jack has finally found his true place in life: the gutter.
Jerry Picco, the world's greatest erotic actor, has gone missing, leaving a heap of debt, a career in nosedive, and a screen partner with plenty reasons to want him gone. Jack sets out to find him. The only clues he's got: a Polaroid of seven small men in the woods, and some story about a princess.
[JB: This is a porno version of Snow White. I wrote it for fun, just to see if I could do the hard-boiled American idiom, and spoof it up a bit. I think in some ways it's the book I'm most satisfied with, although not many readers have shared that satisfaction... Too much swearing, apparently. And the midget porn, obvs.]
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INTOXICATED: A Novel of Money, Madness, and the Invention of the World's Favorite Soft Drink
Set in 1869, the novel is about a family of Yorkshire industrialists whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of Rodrigo Vermilion, a foul-smelling hunchback dressed in rags. "INTOXICATED is a booze-swilling, cocaine-soaked novel of excess and madness in rural Yorkshire, set amid the great commercial developments of the late nineteenth century. It's a novel about drinking, about invention and re-invention, about home, language... and soft drinks." (Publisher)
First published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in the US, INTOXICATED was named as a BookSense Notable Title and an Editor's Choice at the Historical Novel Society.
[JB: This was the second of a two-book deal with HarperCollins/Morrow in NY. After EATING MAMMALS, I felt some pressure to write a similarly idiosyncratic book, and perhaps it shows. I researched the crap out of it, and got pretty obsessive about the writing process. The Washington Post and many other critics loved it, the NYT not so much...]
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A collection of three novellas, all of them about mammals and all based (loosely) on fact. First, a story about a man who eats furniture for a living. Next, a tale about a winged cat named Thomas-Bessie. Finally, a romance between two pie makers, set in the Yorkshire village of Gomersal.
First published by 4th Estate in the UK and HarperCollins in the US.
[JB: I wrote title piece, EATING MAMMALS, just after I'd finished doctoral research. I'd spent the previous three years writing a PhD thesis on the phonetics and phonology of prosodic features in second languages, and increasingly found myself lying awake at night, asking myself whether a man could really eat furniture. Anyway, I wrote the thing and sent it to the Paris Review; to my delight (and surprise) they published it. In fact, it's not the kind of book I enjoy reading much, and is very different to the fiction I was trying to write at the time (literary crime). However, George Plimpton loved EATING MAMMALS, and it was worth having it published just to spend some time with him and hear his recollections of Hemmingway, Capote, Mailer...