Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway - The Fourth Law by Clayton Barnett

The Fourth Law
Author: Clayton Barnett
Genre: Science-Fiction

Book Description:
In 2026, 23 year-old apprentice nurse Lily Barrett lives in a shattered time. Following its economic collapse, the US has devolved into a group of a few barely-functional smaller states, and vast swathes of barbarian badlands. Her sister has been missing for years, and her father, after earning the opprobrium of most of the world for running a state terror organization, presumed dead.

Two things keep her going: her live-in job at a small, Catholic orphanage in the city of Waxahachie, Republic of Texas, and Ai, her odd, but dear friend, whom she met online: a young woman who only shows herself to Lily as a rendered CG image.

Troubled by her past, haunted by her name, and facing an uncertain future, Lily seeks only a quiet, normal life. But, that past and her present conspire against her. A new Morning has come, and with it, delights and terrors, happiness and adversity.

Where do we come from?
What are we?
Where are we going?

Buy Links:

Author Interview

1. Tell a little about yourself. What you do when you’re not writing? What are your aspirations for the future?
Once upon a time, I was a design engineer.  Currently, my ‘day-job’ is that of pharmacy technician, but I regard myself as a father to my two girls above all else.  Everything, including writing, is subordinate to that.

For the future?  More machines!  I’ve published both “The Fourth Law” and its immediate sequel, “Echoes of Family Lost.”  I’ve a fantastic artist in New Zealand working on the illustrations for my 20-page children’s book, “Henge’s Big Day!” – part of the same series – hopefully out by late November!  I’m slogging through notes and scratchings on a ‘prehistory’ book about Lily Barrett’s father and his domestic terror organization, ExComm.  Tangential to all this is a soon to be unveiled webcomic tentatively entitled “Poisoned Hearts,” also about self-aware machines, but only tenuously connected to my Machine Civilization series.  I’ve seen the first few chapters of that, and have very high hopes!  Much of this I discuss on my WordPress page,

2. When and why did you start writing?
On January 4th, 2012, I called off from work so I could download and play the freeware visual novel, Katawa Shoujo.  Some months later, on August 3rd, while sitting in my basement and watching an anime, I sent a text to a friend of mine who is a great illustrator.

“Let’s make a visual novel.”  I figured if a bunch of ‘artsy’ types could do it, so could I.
“OK.  What’s a visual novel?”

In three months we’d Act I written, illustrated, and coded.  Four months after that, the entire work – of over 80,000 words – was complete.  By setting deadlines external to ourselves (we were making presentations at local animecons) we were forced into getting it done fast.

After that, I wrote a few spin-offs, then the scripts for some graphic novels.  When National Novel Writing Month suddenly came upon me last November, I wrote my first traditional novel, “The Fourth Law.”

Think for a moment that I’m just shy of forty nine years old.  Until three years ago, I’d never written nor published anything in my life.  Now, I’ve two books and a handful of visual novels commercially available, with much, much more on the way.  This is one of the reasons I shared my experience with my girls’ school:  I don’t much care if you’re fifteen or fifty:  start writing!  Get published!

3. Have any particular novels or writers influenced your writing?
Reading Jerry Pournelle’s works taught me how to write stories.  Reading Colleen McCullough’s  taught me how to write characters.

4. Give us some backstory behind “The Fourth Law.”  Where and when did you write it?
Last November 3rd, a friend emailed to ask:  “are you doing anything for NaNoWriMo this year?”  To which I wrote back:  “What?”

National Novel Writing Month, each November, is a personal challenge to write a 50k+ page novel in thirty days.  I’d never heard of it before.  However, two things instantly clicked in my head:  some thoughts about AI’s I’d been playing with and the bait of another ‘irrational deadline.’  I was hooked.  Twenty three days later, I was finished with a rather awful first draft of “T4L.”

5. What was your favourite part of writing “The Fourth Law”?
Getting to know everyone!  On November 3rd, I knew nothing about any of these people; besides Lily and Ai, there were no other characters!  Twenty days later, there’s Ai’s family, Lily’s orphanage, the hospital staff, Lily’s family…!  What an amazing discovery!

Isn’t that somewhat astonishing?  At the start of that month, none of these people existed; less than thirty days later, I’ve populated a small town.  Sometimes I think creative writing is one step away from magic.

6. What does your writing schedule look like?
“Oh.  It’s 0230.  I guess I should make some coffee and type out what I saw on the drive home today.”  Rather banal, isn’t it?  But it is also the truth.

I’ve never “written” a thing.  I watch these scenes unfold in my mind like a movie, then type them out and edit them.  Magic, I tell you.

7. Which fictional character would you like to take to dinner and why?
I’ll make the assumption that you’re asking within the context of my book.  In that case:  Dorina!  She’s flighty, but amazingly smart!  I’d likely not even grasp 1/10th of what she told me about the wide world, but I’d love to listen!

8. Besides your lead, do you have a favourite character in the story?
Tricky.  You’d think from my answer to #7 it’d be Dorina, but I don’t think so.  I know Fausta started out as an over-powered thug, but she managed to grow older enough to become the second lead in the sequel, “Echoes of Family Lost.”  Hell, she ended up on the cover!

Ai is strong yet gentle… but I think I’m really taken in by Henge.  She images herself as a small girl, perhaps seven or so, with little or no emotions.  However, first among her family, she decides to take two huge steps, with ramifications I am still trying to understand.  Heh:  I just recalled that at the end of book two, she takes another huge step.  Perhaps she’s my ‘chaos’ character?  I’m quite fond of her.

9. What is one of the most surprising things you've learned as a writer?
There is nothing new under the sun.  No, there’s not.  Trust me:  from back in my engineer days, when I was awarded a US Patent at one point, I realized invention is just taking pre-existing ideas and putting them together in a way that no one else has seen before.

Writing is the same.  We all know the stories, we all know the archetypes.  Did I not know that there are a million stories about AI’s out there, especially in the last few years?  Has someone covered how fast they think?  About animating an android?  What they think of themselves and humans?  Of course other good writers have.  I’ve just put that together in way that no one yet has, along with a heaping spoonful of Catholic Christianity and ¾’s of CS Lewis’s Four Loves.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?
I repeat myself, but it is so important:  DEADLINES!  Without hard deadlines, preferably those you cannot control, you will not finish your work.  You might have the notes for the best novel in history right now, but if you do not FORCE yourself to get it done by Halloween, you will NEVER get it done.  I’ve been there, I know.  Set a date; write.

Other than that – as I’m discovering trying to slog through book #4 – write something that you love; write characters that you love!  Even if what you love might make others a little nervous, write!  Bring them to life!  We’re all waiting!

About the Author
One time engineer, some time pharmacy technician, full time husband and father, Clayton Barnett stumbled into writing a traditional novel last November during National Novel Writing Month.  Liking the results, he edited what would become “The Fourth Law” and set about teaching himself self-publishing.  In July of 2015, he released a sequel entitled “Echoes of Family Lost,” in what is now called his Machine Civilization series.  He is working on a third book – for children – and is making notes for a fourth.  Clayton Barnett lives in central Ohio with his wife, two daughter, and two dogs.

Author Links:


$30 Amazon / B&N Gift Card.

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Blog Tour Organised by:


  1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

    1. Ah, that was answered yesterday at Lisa Haselton's tour stop, but perhaps you missed it.

      When did you first consider yourself a writer?
      About three years ago, this little exchange happened…

      “That will be $10, please.” He handed me the money, and I gave him a copy of OTChi Kocchi. Dear God! I thought. Someone just gave me money for a story I wrote!

      I’d say it was somewhere around there.

  2. Morning! Thanks, CBY for hosting me today!

  3. Thanks so much for the interview and sharing your great advice

    1. It's only "great advice" because it's true. I've been watching scenes of Machine Civilization book #4 drift around my head for almost six weeks now. It was only a few days ago that a title occurred to me. Thankfully, NaNoWriMo 2015 starts in eighteen days. I assure you: "Crosses and Doublecrosses" will be written by November 30th!

  4. I really enjoyed your comments. I love to know more about the author. This does sound like an absolutely fascinating story.

    1. Bits of the author may be found on display at his website of Bits and pieces of him exist on other websites, as well,, being another example.

      "T4L" is just the first thing that I have been shown of Machine Civilization. I've published a second book, a fantastic illustrator is making images for the third, and I'll have the fourth written by the end of November. These people have so much to say through me, I'm doing my best to tell all of you!

  5. How did you choose your genre , or did it choose you ? :)

    1. As I allude to in a later Tour Stop, I like working in a Secondary World format - whether technical or magical - as it allows me much more freedom of action of my characters. I might be constrained here in the RealWortd(TM), but they are not!

      What I write is people, people, people! The setting is just the tapestries that are the backdrop of the story.

      Sorry; it's late. I'm tired. I'll be more cogent at the next tour stop; I promise!
      Thanks so much for CBY for hosting me today!

  6. The book description sounds really good.

  7. What an interesting book! Great interview. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I love learning about authors, thanks for sharing the interview :)

  9. I enjoyed learning more about you and your book! Thank you for sharing!

  10. I enjoyed the interview. Thank you.

  11. Thanks for the author interview!

  12. I appreciate the interview with the author.