Accomplished author Robin Barratt tells how working as a bodyguard gave him the impetus to write his first book – and how as a writer you shouldn’t rely on friends to give their opinions on your work…
BY ROBIN BARRATT
Name, age and area where you live
Robin Barratt, 50 years old, normally living in Norwich,Norfolk, but presently living near Malaga, Spain
Book name, publication date, who book is published by. Is this your first book? If not, how many other books have you published?
DOING THE DOORS – 2004 MILO BOOKS
CONFESSIONS OF A DOORMAN – 2006 – DIVERSE PUBLICATIONS
MARIA’S STORY – 2007 – DIVERSE PUBLICATIONS
BOUNCERS & BODYGUARDS – 2008 – MAINSTREAM (RANDOM HOUSE)
RESPECT & REPUTATION (with Charlie Bronson) – 2010 – APEX PUBLISHING
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF HARD BASTARDS (UK Title)- Feb 2011 – CONSTABLE ROBINSON
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TOUGH GUYS (US Title) – May 2011 – – CONSTABLE ROBINSON
MY BEAUTIFUL BAHRAIN – 2012 – MIRACLE (Bahrain)
On top of this, I have created and then sold two security industry trade magazines, have self-published a number of industry specific manuals and trade directories, have published two coffee-table photographic portfolios, and have recently been privately commissioned to produce a specific tribute title for the late Chairman of one of the biggest Arab merchant families in the Middle East.
My first book was Doing the Doors, it is now a cult book within this specific sub-culture, and is still a must-read for bouncers everywhere. This was my autobiography – it chronicled my life growing up and then working the doors on some of the toughest pubs and clubs across the UK. It then looks into my bodyguard training and then my career as a bodyguard in places such as Moscow. This was my first in this specific true crime / non-fiction genre. Because that sold well, I was asked to write another, and another, and have written 5 books in total in this genre, as well as a biography and a travel anthology.
When did you start writing?
In the year 2000 I sold my small security company and around that same time I accidentally met the publisher of a book by a notorious football hooligan and gangster in Manchester, where I was living at that time. I knew the gangster! Anyway, I talked to the publisher a bit about my life, he said it would make a good book and asked me to write the first three chapters. I did this, he liked it and commissioned me to write the rest. When I sold my business I had no intention of being a full-time writer, but that’s all I do now; write and publish.
How long did it take to write?
My first book took me about a year from first draft to acceptance. I was lucky as I had the equivalent of a couple of years salary after selling my small business, and I didn’t have anything else planned at that time either, so I could just concentrate on my book. I’d spend three or four hours a day writing it. I was definitely not a natural writer as before that I hadn’t written a word. But I had read a lot and I knew what I wanted to say and how to say it, and the rest I just learnt as I went along.
If it’s an personal book about you, how did you feel about that?
It was a personal journey, but not personally difficult to write. I decided that either I was going to hide things and not write what was in my heart or write as honestly and openly as possible. I chose the latter. I think writers should always be honest with their words and the message they want to give, even if it might hurt others and / or hurt the writer. If writers are not willing to do this then they should not be a writer! Also, people do know if you make things up or are not truthful, and that is no good when writers are trying to develop both a readership and a reputation. Because I have tried to be as open and honest as I can with my feelings and descriptions, the book is still on the bookshelves and every week, without fail, I get people emailing me telling them how my journey has in some way mirrored theirs, and they have taken inspiration from my words. And for me, that is just brilliant.
How did you get published?
As mentioned above, it was sheer luck. I happened to know a gangster in Manchester who had just had his book published. I was introduced to his publisher and one thing led to another. Had I not met him, I would be on a totally different journey in life.
Was it hard to get published?
I was lucky because my first book did well enough for publishers to take on my other projects that I approached them with, but if that first book had crashed then again, my life’s journey would have been very different.
Where your book is on sale
My books can be ordered from any bookshop (and are still stocked in many) plus on Amazon
Any advice for other book writers?
The first bit of advice I can offer writers is… to write and to love writing! The bookshelves are full of books from authors that just love writing, and if you don’t love writing enough, you won’t ever get published. And you must write, every day, day in day out. Get up a bit earlier in the morning, go to bed a bit later, but you have to write. You will be surprised with the amount of people that say they want to write a book, but never write! Another tip is to not rely on criticism from others who are not published either. I formed the Bahrain Writers’ Circle when I lived there for almost four years. It is now the biggest group of international writers to have ever been formed on the island, ever!
And the amount of writers that came to me saying that they have unfinished manuscripts in drawers or on computer hard-drives, unfinished because their friends, family and the neighbours dog gave their opinion about their work! No one should critique your work aside from you, and your publisher. If I listened to everyone when I was writing my book, I would have never have finished it either. Believe me, everyone who has never had a written word published will have opinions on your work, all different! So if you want to be successful, don’t ask them! Seriously, just get on with your job of writing.
Also, a last tip, don’t worry about being exact with your grammar at first – the vital thing at first is to get your story down on paper and then worry about the technicalities of writing later on the second or third of fourth drafts.
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