I’ve been knocked down, propped back up, then knocked down again by all the great recognition The Long and Faraway Gone has been receiving lately. It’s been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Award, an Edgar Award, and a Left Coast Crime Lefty Award. In addition, the American Library Association’s Reading List named it Best Mystery/Thriller of the year. I’m honored, humbled, and really really jazzed.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
I teach in the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Oklahoma City University. At the opening ceremonies of this summer's residency, each faculty member was asked to speak for a couple of minutes on the topic of "What I Would Tell Myself If I Could Go Back in Time" (or something like that). Here's what I came up with, in case my young self happens to have time-traveled into the future and is reading this.
What I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self About Being a Writer
(1) It's going to be harder than you think.
(2) It's going to be more fun than you think.
(3) Failure builds character.
(4) Failure also causes permanent damage to your soul.
(5) You can survive more permanent damage to your soul than you think.
(6) Don't spend too much time worrying about stuff that no one else will worry about. No reader ever said, "The characters sucked and the story was trite, but wow I really loved that one sentence on p. 321, so I'll recommend this novel to all my friends."
(7) Don't spend a year (or two) trying to revive a dying novel. Move along, please.
(8) Pay attention to the habits you create. Starve the bad ones, feed the good ones.
(9) Never lie to yourself, unless necessary.
(10) It's often necessary.
(11) Figure out what YOU can write that no one else can write as well as you.
(12) Write that.
(13) Are you still trying to revive that dying novel? Stop it!
(14) If you're tired and don't want to get into a long conversation with the stranger sitting next to you on a plane, don't tell that stranger you're a writer. Tell him or her that you're in sales for a company that manufactures liquid feed supplements for livestock.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
From Kirkus: As suggested by the noir-ish title and tradition, Berney's novel is most truly a thoughtful exploration of memory and what it means to be a survivor. Elegiac and wistful, it is a lyrical mystery that focuses more on character development than on reaching the "big reveal." The novel smartly avoids being coy; there are answers to private detective Wyatt's case and answers to the mysteries from the past, but they reflect the truth of such moments; in the end, the answers are almost beside the point because the wondering, the questions, never really go away. But both characters do achieve their own kind of closure, and that allows the reader to also feel some comfort of fulfillment. A mystery with a deep, wounded heart. Read it.
From Booklist: Berney’s first two novels (Gutshot Straight, 2011; Whiplash River, 2012) were delightful, Elmore Leonard-style crime novels. This time he’s focused, very insightfully, on love, loss, and memory, and he astutely portrays the immediate and long-term psychological impact of the loss of the most important people in his characters’ young lives. Wyatt, Juli, Genevieve, and Wyatt’s dead coworkers are all fully realized creations that readers won’t soon forget. A genuinely memorable novel of ideas.
You can read a summary of THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE and an excerpt.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
To celebrate the release of the new Bruce Springsteen album, here's my conversion story: It's 1978, I'm 13 years old, walking down the street, a dicey neighborhood we lived in at the time, and some high school kids in a speeding car throw a full can of beer at my head.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The publication date for WHIPLASH RIVER, the follow-up novel to GUTSHOT STRAIGHT, has been officially locked: July 10, 2012, from William Morrow.
I’ll provide more information down the line, but for a quick impressionistic preview here’s a selection of words and terms from the official proofreading sheet that came with the copy-edited manuscript:
Baby Jesus, Ambergris Caye, AR-15, Louboutin, dama blanca, dumb-ass, “Please, Please, Please” (James Brown), St. Francis Cabrini, Inshallah, Baird’s tapir.