‘BLOWN’ BOOK SIGNING
When: 4-7 p.m. Saturday, June 6
Where: Twisted Brew Coffee House, 103 W. 23rd St., Suite E7, Panama City
What: Author Chuck Barrett will be on hand to sign books and discuss writing his latest thriller novel featuring Agent Gregg Kaplan, “Blown” (Switchback Press, 337 pages, $16.95)
PANAMA CITY — Lofted on the winds of indie publishing success, author Chuck Barrett returns to his old stomping grounds this weekend to celebrate the launch of his latest thriller novel, “Blown.”
Barrett will be at Twisted Brew Coffee House, 103 W. 23rd St., 4-7 p.m. Saturday, and will speak briefly about how the particular characters in “Blown” came to be and which real-life persons were inspirations or became characters in the book.
“This is a much larger scale publicity push than I have ever done in the past and is designed to hopefully enlighten a lot of readers that many indie authors can and do produce stories just as good or better than those select few traditionally published powerhouses,” Barrett said. “Always the same names on the New York Times bestseller list!”
“Blown” marks the beginning of a new series focusing on protagonist Gregg Kaplan, who appeared as a supporting character in Barrett’s first two novels, “The Savannah Project” and “The Toymaker.”
He said this book was a case of a character demanding a story.
“While writing ‘The Savannah Project,’ I realized I wanted to have a Gregg Kaplan series as well as a Jake Pendleton series,” Barrett said. “Their styles are drastically different, so it is fun changing things up. The idea for the story is about two years old and seemed appropriate for Kaplan’s rough and tumble style.”
No ordinary man, Kaplan has special skills, courtesy of the U.S. government. Assigned to stay off the grid, he innocently stumbles into a blown witness protection detail in Little Rock, Ark., and can’t walk away from the impending mayhem. After the dust settles, a mortally wounded Deputy U.S. Marshal makes Kaplan promise to personally deliver the witness to a safe site.
“Not just a promise, an oath,” Barrett said in describing the plot. “A pledge between ex-Army Delta Force comrades. A trust that could not be broken — once in, never out.”
Though he has lived in Fernandina Beach for 30 years, Barrett grew up in Panama City, living mostly in the Cove neighborhood, but then on State Avenue during high School. He attended Jinks Middle School and Bay High School before transferring to Mosley High. His parents still live in Lynn Haven.
“I graduated from Mosley in 1975 — first graduating class from the then-brand new school,” he said. “So technically, I went to Bay High for 10th grade and Mosley for 11th and 12th since there was no Mosley when I was in 10th grade.”
A retired air traffic controller, Barrett is a frequent visitor back to Bay County, and recently has been a featured author at the annual BooksAlive festival sponsored by the Bay County Public Library. He also conducts seminars on the art of self-publishing based on his book, “Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide To Independent Publishing.”
Barrett’s novel “Breach of Power” won the 2013 Indie Excellence Award in Political Thrillers, and was a finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category. “The Toymaker” was a finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure and Mystery/Suspense categories.
“Don’t worry, the Jake Pendleton series is still alive,” Barrett assured fans. “The book after ‘Blown’ is another Jake Pendleton book. The plan is to alternate series for a while. Jake will return in 2016.”