Home Author Interviews Interview with J.D. Barker – Author of the 4MK Thrillers

Interview with J.D. Barker – Author of the 4MK Thrillers

by Shana

Interview with J.D. Barker - Author of the 4MK Thrillers

I’m so thrilled to welcome international best selling author J.D. Barker to Aurora B’s Book Blog! He’s graciously agreed to answer some questions and share some information about his fantastic 4MK series. Thank you for swinging by J.D. !

JD-BarkerShort Bio

J.D. Barker (Jonathan Dylan Barker) is an international bestselling American author whose work has been broadly described as suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.

You can check out J.D. Barkers full author bio below!

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Interview with J.D. Barker

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and what writing means to you?

J.D. Barker:  Wow, so writing means everything to me. I’ve written nearly every day for as long as I can remember. From stories in crayon as a kid, to celebrity interviews when I first started out, to what I’m doing now. Writing has been the one constant in my crazy life. I wake up every day grateful that I’m able to make a living doing something I so greatly love.

The Fourth Monkey (my review) is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. I absolutely loved the serial killer’s Diary! What gave you the idea behind the Diary?

J.D. Barker:  Well, thank you! I’ve known I wanted to write a serial killer thriller for a long time but the story had to be just so. The formula has been done to death and I needed something fresh. Years ago, I decided if I wrote this book, the killer should die at the beginning of the story. That created a few complex problems, the least of which was where to go from there. The story sat patiently waiting in a dusty corner of my head until a day back in 2014 when I was in line at the grocery store. There was a rather rotund woman in line ahead of me in one of those electric carts and a boy of about eight years old standing behind me with his father. The boy said something about the woman, I didn’t hear what exactly, then his father leaned down and said, “Speak no evil, son.” As soon as I heard that, a number of thoughts flooded my head – Who says that? What exactly is happening back at their house? By that night, I had the basis for my killer’s childhood and the diary found its way to paper quickly. It didn’t take long before Porter was alive and deeply buried in pursuit.

How do you develop your characters?

J.D. Barker:  All my books start with just a basic framework. I don’t outline. Instead, I create a few basic plot points I want to create. Once I have that framework, characters come next. I get to know them essentially the same way I would get to know someone I just met. I start with a physical description, create a backstory… From there, the Q&A starts. I tend to dig far deeper than the book may require. If you take Sam Porter as an example, I know where he grew, where he went to school, who is friends were, his hobbies, his likes, dislikes…everything. I could drop him at the entrance to Disney World and I know what ride he would head to first. I know where he’d eat and what he’d eat. I don’t start work on the actual book until I know each character intimately. I’m telling their story, not mine. In many ways, I’m just along for the ride, documenting what they show me.

I love serial killer books! Why do you think serial killer stories fascinate people so much?

J.D. Barker:  I think serial killers fascinate us for many of the same reasons a good horror movie (or book) does. The only difference is, serial killers are real. That makes them far more terrifying than any fictional monster. My father-in-law lived a few houses down from the BTK Killer in Kansas, had no idea. Nobody knew. My wife went to high school at Parkland in Florida. I was at the movies the other day and about halfway through the film (HEREDITARY, which was awesome) a man walked to the front of the theater to the emergency exit carrying a dufflebag. He set it down and began assembling something. Within seconds, people had their phone flashlights on him. When several people asked him what he was doing, and he didn’t answer, three guys got up and “escorted” him out to the hallway. Turns out he was a fire marshal inspecting the exits. That real-life fear plays a large part in our fascination. It feeds the terror. As children, we fear shadows, ghosts, that thing that lives under our bed when the lights go off. When we grow up, we realize people can be the true monsters of this world.

What’s the most difficult part of your writing process?

J.D. Barker:  Saying goodbye to the characters at the end and moving on to another project. For sure. I’m deep into the final book of the 4MK story and as I get closer to the end, as I wonder who will live and who won’t, as I get closer to typing that final page with THE END slapped across the center, I realize just how much I’ll miss them all.

Your second book in the 4MK series, The Fifth to Die, is awesome! What do you think your fans will like most about this book?

J.D. Barker:  4MK’s diary left a lot of questions on the table. In THE FIFTH TO DIE, many are addressed, expanded. We get a true sense of where this killer came from, what made him the way he is, and his true endgame. Like THE FOURTH MONKEY, the book itself is full of clues. From images in the cover, to the book dedication, my author’s note at the end, all if it is part of the story.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

J.B. Barker:  Believe in yourself. I spent twenty-three years working as a book doctor and ghostwriter before finally getting my first novel (FORSAKEN) out there. While I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, I wish I would have started sooner.

Dracul is another one of your upcoming books that I can’t wait to read! Can you tell us a bit about it?

J.D. Barker:  Hmm. I’ve been sworn to secrecy on that one. I can tell you I’m crazy proud of that book and it releases Oct. 2, 2018. The film rights have sold, too. Paramount scooped it up with Andy Muschetti (IT, Mama) attached to direct.

What was it like to work with the Bram Stoker family and have access to Bram’s original notes and journals?

J.D. Barker:  In many ways, it felt as if Bram were right there with us, whispering at our ears. After all, this is his story. I’m honored for the opportunity to help share the parts he couldn’t get out in his lifetime.

What question do you wish someone would ask about you or your book? (then answer it ?)

Hmm. How about this –

Is the diary in THE FOURTH MONKEY real?

Answer it here?

Naw, that’s too easy. If you’d like the answer, pick up the hardcover of THE FIFTH TO DIE and take a real close look at the cover. Sometimes, the answers are right in front of us; you need only to look.

Check out the first two books in the 4MK Series! I dare you  👿

fourth monkey

Read it Now!

fifth die

Read it Now!

About J.D. Barker


Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Draculautilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public. The novel, titled Dracul, sold at auction to G.P. Putnam & Sons, with film rights going to Paramount. Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) is attached to direct.

Barker’s initial indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

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Entertainingly Nerdy August 23, 2018 - 4:58 pm

Great interview! I’m definitely going to have to look into his work. The genre he writes in are typically the type of books I go for.

Shana August 23, 2018 - 5:08 pm

Thanks so much! I’m glad you liked it 🙂
I really like this genre. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon this book. The second one (The Fifth to Die) is good to:) If you read his works I’d be interested to know what you think!


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