Wednesday 24 November 2010


Q1. So when we started talking, the first thing you couldn’t wait to get off your chest were all those fancy degrees like a Master’s and Ph.D. after your name and that you’re this college professor in your day job. All that’s good and impressive, but what the readers of this blog are interested in is writing. So what have you managed to produce so far?

A: Well, sure, thanks for asking. There are a couple of nonfiction books I wrote over the last few years, like The Asian Influence on Hollywood Action Films (published by McFarland in 2008) and Blood Guns and Testosterone: Action Films, Audiences and a Thirst For Violence (from Scarecrow Press in 2009), and next year I will be coming out with another film book for McFarland called Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious. So yeah, if you’re about to ask me if my interest in these macho action and conspiracy films is what got me interested in crime fiction, then the answer is something of a ‘yes.’ Actually, I always liked crime fiction…

Q2. Whoa! Whoa, stud! I’m the one asking the questions here. Now sure, these books really sound cool and much more interesting than the sort of thing academic types write, but just where exactly can I find them? Like if I walk into Borders or my local Barnes & Noble, I can find them on the shelves?

A: OK, wise ass. But no, most likely you won’t find them in those places, but a library. Most likely a college library. See, these books are based on my research and put out by academic presses. So the information hasn’t been corrupted and watered down for the masses by the big corporate media the way most nonfiction is.

Q3. But nevertheless you are now writing crime fiction and mass entertainment. Why?

A: Well, the thing is that when I was hired to teach at this Catholic college, there was a bit of confusion and they didn’t realize I wasn’t one of their priests. You know, I didn’t take a vow of poverty. So while we’re trying straighten all that out, I’m writing like insane to help the matter along. And besides, I want to start being the guy who does the entertaining and not the one who analyzes it. One day I can see some grad student spending 10 years to write a dissertation about “The use of modernist and postmodernist gendered imagery in the early works of Barna Donovan.”

Q4. Wow, a Catholic college! So what are your favorite sins?

A: Vanity and greed. But I think what you might be interested in is whether or not my nonfiction…

Q5. OK, I think we got this straight before. I’m the one asking the questions here. So why don’t you tell me about some of the crime fiction you like to read?

A: Sorry, man, no disrespect intended. But I worship Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. Well, maybe not the last one so much. What was that thing, the young Hannibal Lecter or something like that? But as I see it, once you’ve produced Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, you’re allowed a mistake now and again. Oh, and book number three, Hannibal…let’s just say six words and leave it at that: “Eating brains of a living man.” You have to love it. But I also like John Sandford’s Prey books, every single psycho ever created by Dean Koontz, the Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and all of Stephen J. Cannell’s mysteries and thrillers.

Q6. Wow, that’s a great list. All of them very commercial with incredible mass audience appeal. But let’s see, I think before we sat down you might have mentioned something about that upcoming conspiracy film book being an inspiration for the fiction you’re working on now. Can you tell us about it?

A: Yes, thanks for the question. As I was about to say before, my book about the history of conspiracy theories and conspiracy theory films made me want to bring a different angle to the conspiracy story formula. So I’m writing this book called “The Conspiracy Theorist” about a former con man who has become a multimillionaire from his bestselling conspiracy books and who is now accused of killing his girlfriend. On the lam in France where the authorities won’t extradite him, he claims that he’s innocent and he was framed because he “got too close to the truth.” But he still has millions of fans, of course, who are willing to listen to everything he has to say. Even celebrities want to hang out with him. Hollywood is interested in his story. Then a writer doing a book on the case asks, “Is this an innocent man trying to clear his name…or are we living in a world where we want to believe so much that we allow a grifter to commit a murder and become an international icon as a result?”

Q7. Wait a minute, that is a pretty good idea! So is he really a killer?

A: Well, you’ll have to read it, right?

Q8. OK, but this will be the kind of book that provokes conversation and debate, right? Do I understand this correctly?

A: Well, why don’t I leave you to think about the conspiracy phenomenon a little bit on your own and have a debate and a conversation with yourself? Just spend about a half an hour online looking at all the top conspiracy theory web pages and see what you find. Are you seeing a lot of good-hearted, idealistic nerds who might be a bit wacky, a little bit dorky and over-the-top, but ultimately people who teach us important lessons about the importance of questioning authority? Or are you finding people who indiscriminately accuse everything of being a conspiracy, then make a pile of money off their over-priced, self-produced videos, their self-published books, and by selling you all the “secret” files and “declassified” documents “they don’t want you to know about” for a “modest” fee. Follow the money, as they say. Oh, and look for the books that are not self-published but put out by the biggest houses in the business…and their authors explain that a vast, global conspiracy that killed JFK and staged 9/11 is silencing all of its critics and suppressing all of the shocking truth by controlling the corporate media.

Q9. Amazing! You know, that’s a really different way of looking at it...But hey, wait a minute, didn’t you say something about the corporate mass media and…

A: Yes, I was being ironic!

Q10. Oh…oh! I get it now. So come on, what do you think about some of the big conspiracy theories? Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill JFK? Did the U.S. government plan 9/11? Does the government know there are real alien UFOs in the skies?

A: Yes. No. Maybe.


  1. There's a real sexual tension between thos two! top stuff!

  2. It's the Space Nazis On The Dark Side Of The Moon, I tell ya ! Remarks about the conspiracy theories and the theorists are spot on . . . or is Donovan just part of the cover up. Never forget Donovan's Brain wasn't really fiction . . . or was it? Entertaining interview with an interesting guy.

  3. A fascinating interview, Barna! Loved it...