Today I am so pleased to welcome Bart Baker to Joyfully Jay. Bart has come to talk to us about his release, I Promise You Pain (The Cordon Finn Vengeance series, Book One). He has also brought along an exclusive excerpt. Please join me in giving Bart a big welcome!


Bart has written some questions and answers to share with us today!

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

I would eat sushi at every meal if I could afford it.


What’s your favorite scene in your latest book and what makes it a fave?

It has to be one of the scenes with either or both of the youngest characters in the book (Lucious and Gio). There’s just something about them juxtaposed to Cordon that makes those scenes pop.


If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?

Cordon. I know that’s the easy answer because he’s the lead of the book and series, but I love characters who are still in the process of self-discovery. Characters who are bits and pieces rather than someone who is completely put together. Cordon is still finding himself, he had a disastrous childhood, and the work he did for the military only messed him up more. He’s still trying to make the pieces of his life fit together, and because he’s so big and imposing, he cannot hide. I have a great deal of empathy for him and want to know more about him. I love characters – and people – who are flawed. Who are haunted. Who struggle and have pain. Cordon is all of that. And he’s not unaware of it, which makes him more interesting to me.  I would love to have him for a friend, because you sense his loyalty and you can see his strength, but what you get to know is a much softer, more damaged man, who is someone I would like as a friend.


On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?

Easy. Nelson. He’s a cockroach of a human being. Selfish and debilitating to everyone around him, Nelson has always put himself first with little thought for those around him, except how to use them. Even his own family. And like a cockroach, he’s toxic and hard to kill. 


Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, and do you have a favorite genre?

I love flawed, damaged protagonists. Characters in the process of self-discovery. And if they can have humor about it – preferably a lot – I love them even more. I love when they know they are damaged and are trying to deal with. Even if they are unsuccessful, if I know their heart is in the right place, if they can laugh at themselves, or make others laugh at them, I know they are trying and I want to go on that journey with them.

I don’t have a favorite genre. I love all sorts of books, movies, theater. All I ask is that you move me. Scare me, thrill me, make me think, make me laugh out loud, make me cry. Just don’t bore me. To me, that’s the only crime in entertainment. 


What books and authors would you say influenced you to become a writer? 

Two authors influenced me. And they probably couldn’t be more different. Hunter Thompson and Pat Conroy. Thompson because he was daring and dangerous. His epic insanity makes it hard to stop reading. His prose are equally as in your face as what he is writing about. I love that sort of daring in art/entertainment. It’s alive, it’s wired, it’s messy and crazy and you simply cannot stop reading.  FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS is a book you cannot turn away from. He might be the last of the mad authors, an alcoholic and drug addict, but unapologetically so. He’s aware of who he is and doesn’t give a damn whether you like him or not. I love that.

And Pat Conroy, one of the most beautiful writers ever as far as I’m concerned. He has a gift; Conroy can make me laugh and cry within the same sentence. You deeply feel his work, his characters are always rich and vibrant, deeply flawed and often a hot mess, and very, very southern. THE GREAT SANTINI, THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE, BEACH MUSIC, THE PRICE OF TIDES, each one is as wonderful as the next. When I read his work, I would always say to myself, ‘I want to write like this.’ I’ll never be that good, he’s a master, but his work is something to aspire to.


What are your least and most favorite things about being an author? 

My favorite is I get to work at home. I’m around for my kids, I can handle the life that comes up during the day, and I get to be creative. How cool is that?!?  My least favorite thing, is that people do not think I work. They think you’re home doing nothing all day. Hey, this is my job and I treat it as such.


What’s the best piece of writing/author advice you’ve ever received that you’d pass on to someone just getting started in the business?

Ultimately, this is a business, so find your audience and cultivate it. Not everyone is going to love your book or your script or that picture you painted. But there are people who will. Find them and let your business grow from there. 


Have you ever written a line, paragraph, or passage, and thought, “Darn, that’s pretty amazing, even if I do say so myself”? What was it?  

In my second novel, WHAT REMAINS, there’s a passage at the opening of the book that I thought was pretty genius.  Here it is:

“Do I know you?” I asked, casually flirting as I shook the hand of the outstanding brunette in the Versace cocktail dress.  It’s a skill I’ve perfected for these opaque charity fundraisers I get bullied into attending.

“We slept together two yeas ago,” she stated with a razor’s edge etched into her voice. “You never called.”

Not the best statement to make when I’m standing with my wife of three years.


If you could choose one of your books to be adapted for the silver screen, which would you choose? Why do you think it would translate well to film?

The film rights to my book HONEYMOON WITH HARRY was bought by New Line for a movie. The last draft, by Dan Fogelman (THIS IS US, ONLY MURDER IN THE BUILDING) is really terrific. But I would love to adapt WHAT REMAINS, because it has three really rich characters and deals with my favorite themes of growing up, love, loss, found family, people rising from the ashes. Because I’m a screenwriter also with a body of work in film, I think in terms of pictures when I’m writing. This book has deep relationships as well as some great action set pieces. It has a big canvas but ultimately comes down to family. It’s universal.


What’s the one book you’ve read in your lifetime that you wish you’d written? Why did this particular book leave such a lasting impact on you? 

I wish I’d written THE GREAT SANTINI. Hell, any Pat Conroy book. But that was the second book of his I read and I understood this family, these characters, they made me laugh and they made me cry. I’ve carried them with me for years, it’s that kind of book.


If I were to interview your main characters, what would they say about you

That I’m driven. Maybe too driven. That I really want to know them. That I want them to feel comfortable and be happy that they are hanging out with me. And I love to laugh, so I find or create moments to make that happen.


Let’s pretend you’re taking a road trip, and you can choose any three of your characters to go with you. Who would you want on the ride-along, and why them? 

I’d take Cordon, because if something stupid happened, he could take care of it. I’d take Hunter Thompson, because then you’d know something stupid would happen. And I’d take Jay Gatsby, because well, people love to be around him and he could pay for it all. 


If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three things you’d absolutely have to have?

Fresh water, a baited fishing pole and a first aid kit.


If you could travel back in time, with all your years of experience and wisdom intact, what advice would you give to your teenage self?

Not to be so worried about everything all the time. Be yourself, be proud, and be daring.


If you could be any fictional character who would you like to be and why?

Superman. Because why not. Beyond the physical reasons, he has a good soul and seems to care about humanity.


Thank you.


Here’s an excerpt when Cordon is kidnapping Lucious:

“I got money,” Lucious says. “Whatever you’re getting paid for, whatever you’re doing, I can get you more.”

“Shut up,” Cordon demands, pushing Lucious behind him as Cordon plots their escape. As he calculates the route out, Cordon is snapped back to the moment when he hears Luscious behind him. 

“I’m at Wayne’s! This fucking lunatic is kidnapping me! He about killed Way—” Lucious barks into his phone as Cordon whips around. Yanking the cell phone from Lucious’s hand, Cordon smashes it against the wall. Dropping the pieces to the floor, Cordon stomps on it.

“What the hell!? That’s a brand-new iPhone!”

“Hear me and hear me good, knucklefuck. You pull any bullshit, you call for help, try to signal someone, anything I don’t like, I will rip that little swimsuit off your ass and gag you with it. Understand?”

“Yeah, but—”

Cordon slaps his hand over Lucious’s mouth. “Shut! Up! You talk, you die. You keep your mouth shut, do as I say, you will come out of this alive, Lucas,” Cordon warns in a harsh whisper as he takes his hand away from Lucious’s mouth.

“Lucious! My name is Lucious! She! Her!”

Again, Cordon slaps his hand over Lucious’s mouth again, his face getting close to hers.

“Don’t! Care!” Cordon snaps back.

Lucious glares into Cordon’s eyes, fighting her rage. She carefully reaches up and pulls Cordon’s hand away from her face. “Why are you kidnapping me?”

Cordon’s finger gets right in Lucious’s face, ignoring her question. “We’re going down those stairs together, our arms around each other, and right out the front door. Remember, you try to alert anyone, I will punch you in the head so hard you will wake up in the hospital if you wake up at all. If I’m clear, nod.”

Lucious defiantly does as asked. As Cordon turns back to the door, Lucious seizes the moment and grabs Cordon’s hand, putting a lock on Cordon’s thumb, slamming her elbow into a pressure point in Cordon’s neck. More startled than injured, Cordon’s free hand comes up fast, right into Lucious’s solar plexus, the air blasting from Lucious’s lungs. 

Staggering back, Lucious recovers quickly, jumping into the air and surprising Cordon with a kick that connects with his head. Cordon wobbles a step, his fist coming up defensively. Lucious strikes, pummeling Cordon with kicks and punches, her skill as a fighter remarkable but not unexpected. Cordon knew the kid was a champion and prepared himself for Lucious to fight back. 

Blocking Lucious’s attack, Cordon finds his back against the wall. He drops to the floor and sweeps out Lucious’s legs. Lucious hits the floor hard but startling Cordon, Lucious kips back to her feet, ducks under Cordon’s meaty swing, pile-drives a few punches into Cordon’s rib while screaming for help, hoping someone can hear her over the blasting music. 

Cordon shoves Lucious back hard into the dresser, but Lucious comes back swinging and kicking. Cordon continues to block most of Lucious’s blows as Lucious continues to scream for help with each swing and kick. The music continues to drown out her pleas.

“I. Should. Be. The. One. Calling. For. Help!” Cordon barks, as he blocks the flurry of Lucious’s punches from doing any damage. 

Needing to batter Cordon back long enough to escape, Lucious leaps in the air, her hips jerking hard as she comes around with a furious spin kick to Cordon’s head. But Cordon catches Lucious by the calf and slams her leg into the wall, holding her there, the leg up around Lucious’s face as the barrel of Cordon’s gun jams into Lucious’s balls.

“Hit me again, I’ll open you up like a can of fish,” Cordon snarls into Lucious’s face.

Slowly letting Lucious’s leg drop, Cordon grabs hold of the dozens of necklaces Lucious wears, many appearing homemade, dangling with a charm or amulet, tightening his grip until the necklaces dig into Lucious’s skin, choking her.

“Turn around,” Cordon orders, spinning Lucious towards the wall. 

In the small black bag over his shoulder, Cordon pulls out a two zip ties. “I didn’t want to do this,” Cordon says as he binds Lucious’s hands together with the ties, and then grabs the necklaces again to maintain complete control over the kid. Yanking Lucious’s body against his, Cordon holds her tightly, sliding the gun barrel up to Lucious’s cheek. “This is how serious I am about this. I want to get out of here. And unless you want half your pretty face blown off, you’re going to do what I say. I feel you so much as tense a muscle, I’m going to send you home to your family in a plastic trash bag.” 

“My father would like that.”

“Let’s not find out, Bruce Lee.”


When the only course of action is revenge, only the most damaged man is capable of maximum destruction.

Hired by a Chicago billionaire to pluck his runaway son from the Palm Springs compound of a wealthy pedophile, former military extraction and information specialist, Cordon Finn, believes it will be a simple snatch and go job with a big payday. But after grabbing the kid at a Pride Week party, Cordon discovers that nothing is as it seems. His quarry isn’t underage, and isn’t the billionaire’s son, but rather his trans-daughter who goes by the name of Lucious. And her father wants Lucious dead, putting Cordon, who is dealing with his own sexual identity, in the crosshairs as well. After fighting off a cadre of assassins, Cordon vows to keep Lucious alive. But when the billionaire kidnaps Cordon’s girlfriend and comes after his family and friends, Cordon takes the fight back to the billionaire’s door. With the surprising help of Lucious, as well as his sister, Annie, Cordon battles the billionaire’s small army, until he’s face-to-face with the billionaire. And in this battle, there will be only one man left standing, the one who is capable of maximum destruction.

Buy Link: Amazon


Mr. Baker has written seven novels, including WHAT REMAINS, THE VIRGIN DAIQUIRI, and THE WEDDING GIFT. The film rights to his beloved novel, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY, were purchased by New Line Cinema. The book also spawned two sequels, A SECOND HONEYMOON WITH HARRY and THE LAST HONEYMOON WITH HARRY. Bart has also written for the theater, having eight plays produced around the world. The film rights to his play, RELAY, were purchased by Warner Bros., which led him into screenwriting. Bart has had 18 produced film and TV credits, including the feature film, LIVE WIRE, starring Pierce Brosnan, the BRIDE trilogy of films for CBS, as well as projects for CBS, ABC, FX, The Family Channel, Lifetime, The USA Network, and Hallmark among others.

FILED UNDER: Excerpt, Interview