An Interview With Dallas Barnes
By Anecia Ascalon
Novelist & Screenwriter, Dallas Barnes has written nearly two hundred hours of primetime television drama, as well as seven bestselling novels. His writings have won nominations for Emmy’s, in both primetime and daytime, as well as the famed Edgar Alan Poe Award, the Image Award and the Humanitas Prize. Along with writing, Dallas Barnes is an executive level hybrid hospitality security professional with a unique blend of management, Law Enforcement and guest services skills. With over a decade of experience in investigations in demanding hospitality and gaming venues linked to a performance in risk management, safety, compliance, and loss prevention.
Wolfpack: What inspired writing about your police experience?
Dallas Barnes: I chose writing about my police experiences because I felt I could provide readers with an unparalleled authenticity that could only be the result having been part of the action.
Wolfpack: What was it like working in the LAPD? What comprised an average day?
Dallas Barnes: Image is important in public service. When I joined the LAPD, the department was being portrayed accurately in prime time by several successful iconic episodic dramas, specifically, Dragnet and Adam-twelve. As a Marine I was familiar with challenging training. LAPD’s Academy proved a greater challenge. It was intense, both physically and mentally. Six months of daily training was followed by another twelve months of training in the field. Accomplishing this resulted in a sense of pride as well as a warranted confidence in a personal ability to meet the challenges of the job.
Average days were evasive. Every day was different. Every moment was tense. No one called the police for good news.
Wolfpack: What kind of books /genres do you read?
Dallas Barnes: Military & police as well as history. My all-time favorite is The Sand Pebbles.
Wolfpack: What challenges do you face when writing?
Dallas Barnes: My spelling sucks. (Thankful for spell check) and typing, but when I’m working on a novel, I get in a productive zone such as twelve-hour days and meals at my desk. Our three dogs and one cat know the drill. They cooperate, as does a supportive wife, who also acts as my primary editor.
Wolfpack: What is one of the most unforgettable experiences you’ve had because of your writing?
Dallas Barnes: I had the great privilege of writing for a sitting President of the United States. President Ronald Reagan. The project was a television docudrama entitled, “America, you’re too young to die.” My wife and I wrote and produced it for the Demoss Foundation. Not only did we write the Presidents dialogue, we accompanied the film crew into the White House for the filming of the scene. It was awesome. Several months later the President invited us to attend a celebration of his 75th birthday. We accepted. It was likewise impressive.
Wolfpack: Do you ever experience writers block?
Dallas Barnes: Fortunately, no. I spend months, years, writing a book, thinking of the beginning, middle and end as well as the primary characters. I know when I sit down where the story is going.
Wolfpack: What advice could you offer aspiring writers?
Dallas Barnes: Writing is a solitary task, at least it should be. Write about what you know, what you experienced, write truth. Although I write fiction some of my screen writings have been Sci-Fi, but I wrapped it all in reality. Wonder Woman didn’t seem to care.
Write what you have a passion for.
Wolfpack: Who is your favorite character that you have created?
Dallas Barnes: Two characters come to mind. A homicide detective team. Hollister and the Fox. The two men are assigned to LAPD’s Southwest Division. It’s a ghetto assignment. When I worked there the average was 90 plus killings a year. Sergeant Hollister is white. He drives out of the ghetto at night. The Fox is a handsome black man. He doesn’t drive away at EOW, End of Watch. He doesn’t have too. He lives in the ghetto. A black and white detective team allows me to provide insight to a grim assignment from two quite different POV’s. Geography and environmentally the two men are from two different worlds, but their assignment and partnership doesn’t allow any space between them. Mess with one, and the other is going to make you regret it.
A compliment of my ability to capture life and work in LA’s ghetto with my writings was when my then publisher flew me to NYC. They sent a press rep to me at the airport. The black rep was shocked to find I was white. Based on my writings they assumed I was black. Hollister and the Fox would have enjoyed the moment.