Interview! THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S TRUTH by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

by Ralph Josiah Bardsley

The Photographers Truth

Ian seems to have it all – a career as a hotshot software programmer in Silicon Valley; a beautiful wife and family; a nice house in an upscale San Francisco neighborhood; and a past that he’s mostly managed to forget. But life takes an unexpected turn for Ian when he finds himself in Paris for a three-month work project where meets the former fashion photographer Luca Sparks. The unlikely friendship grows and Ian sees a new side to life as Luca takes him on a journey through the glamorous and lustrous Paris nightlife. But something strange starts to happen during their adventures in Paris; the two discover an attraction that threatens to destroy their lives. Both men battle their own demons on the road to self-discovery, ultimately learning how to come to peace with their feelings and their pasts.

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Please tell us about your novel.

It is about love – how it gets messy and inconvenient, but when it takes over our lives there is very little we can do but ride it out.  More specifically, life takes an unexpected turn for Ian, a Silicon Valley software programmer, when he finds himself in Paris for a three-month work project where he must confront a part of himself that he’s mostly managed to forget. The two develop a relationship that is both beautiful and hard to watch.


How did you research your novel, if applicable?

I did a lot of research in Paris, where the book mainly takes place.  I wanted to make sure I got all the details of the city right.  Of all the places to have to spend time, Paris is a pretty enjoyable spot, so I guess you could say that I really enjoyed the research.


Where can readers find you online?

My website –  I’m also on twitter – @ralphjbardsley.  You can also visit my publisher’s website –


When you are stuck on something, what is your go to cure?

I go for a run.  It really clears my head and gives me space to think.


Do you have a real life hero? If so, can you tell us who and why?

My mom and dad are my real life heroes.  No doubt about it.  My husband and brother are on that list too.  They’re all pretty amazing people – brave, thoughtful, loving.


Who is your favorite literary hero and heroine?

Oh, Tom Sawyer – no contest.  He’s brash and risky and completely charming.


Are you character or plot driven? Why?

Both – you can’t have a good story without the right combination. I always start my work with character sketches – I write several pages about each main character, you know – where they grew up, what their tastes are, what they do for work.  A lot of times none of that text actually makes it into the book, but taking the time to do that makes the characters feel more complete in the book.


How do you feel about social media? Is it a help or hindrance to you?

Well, there is no denying we live in a social media world.  There are a lot of really positive aspects of social media – it lets me stay connected to friends and family I might otherwise lose track of, it gives me a way to connect to readers, and it creates communities that can share interests.  But it can get distracting.  I guess overall it’s helpful


What are the first five titles on your kindle?

  • A Bed of Scorpions by Judith Flanders
  • Our Young Man by Edmund White
  • What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
  • The Charioteer by Mary Renault
  • Violin by Anne Rice


Where do you see yourself and your writing in the next five years?

Oh, I very much want to continue writing.  I’m finishing up a new book now that should be out some time early next year.  I’m also working on something after that, although it’s pretty different.  The thing about writing, for me, is that it’s a great way to re-experience the world.


How many books do you own and what does your bookshelf look like?

Ah, well, that’s a tricky question.  Left to my own devices I would have an apartment lined with bookshelves.  But I’m married to a very high-end interior designer and I am strictly governed when it comes to what can and can’t be left out.  I do have loads of books in my closet though – probably a couple hundred…


If you are published traditionally and independently, which do you prefer and why?

I am published by Bold Strokes Books, a traditional publisher.  I believe they are the largest LGBT publisher. I went with them for a number of reasons.  They are a wonderful group of people, they provide a lot of the support and infrastructure – like editing and cover design, and most importantly because of their distribution network.


What advice do you have for people that are trying indie publishing right out of the gate?

I can’t really offer much advice there.  But I can offer advice for authors just starting out on their first novels – stay with it.  You’re going to have to write through a lot of crap to get out the good stuff.  Keep going and don’t be afraid to throw out huge chunks of work.  Nothing is in vain – those 30 pages you end up dropping – writing them will make your book better, even if they never see the light of day.


What do you find inspiring?

Mornings.  I love the light, the sound of the birds, the solitude.


Do you have a favorite charity?

I do – it is the ASPCA.  I give to them every year.


Your family is safe and sound. You have 24 hours to live and have been given the ability to do anything in the world, what do you do?

I would go to the beach with my husband.

Ralph Josiah Bardsley

A little bit more about me – I was born in a small town outside of Boston. My dad was in the Coast Guard and so I grew up in a lot of different places – New Orleans, Cape Cod, North Carolina and Sitka, Alaska. When I wasn’t in school, I spent most of my time in Coast Guard hangers or reading. Today I live in San Francisco where my hobbies include writing, running and wine tasting! Like everyone else I wear a few hats. I work in the high tech industry in marketing. I hold a bachelor’s degree from Greensboro College and a master’s in communication from Emerson College.

When I read a writer’s bio, I usually want to know why they write – what makes them sit down at a keyboard and what do they hope to accomplish. When I ask myself those same questions, it’s more difficult to answer. I’ve always loved writing – in any capacity. For a long time, I got enough fulfillment out of the writing assignments I did for work. I’ve written white papers on software, airlines, mobile technology and advertising practices. These were (and continue to be) great assignments and I absolutely love them – I get to learn about all sorts of cool new things all the time. But eventually I wanted to do something more personal. So I started a blog called BrandFiller. I recruited several contributors and we had a lot of fun for a year or so writing short form articles and posts about everything from hockey to fashion. Let me say – for me blogging was A LOT of work. It was rewarding, but I wanted to do something bigger – something that expressed bits and pieces of my own life and feelings in a work of fiction. So that’s when I decided to retire the blog and try a novel. I never expected anyone would publish it. But the team over at Bold Strokes Books saw my manuscript for Brothers and decided to take a chance on me. You can be the judge of if they were right, when the book comes out on December 1, 2015. So what makes me sit down and write now? I guess just the opportunity to express myself and share that expression.

My writing comes from a combination of experience and imagination. My family – especially my husband Dana – is a big part of my inspiration. They’re always pushing me to do more and I love them for it. I also love to travel, and I manage to work the details from the places I visit into the stories and the books I write. Someone once told me that the only true value you ever get for your money is travel – and I couldn’t agree more.



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