Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today we have fellow Fox Spirit Author and member of the Skulk – Colin F Barnes.
Colin F. Barnes is a publisher and full-time writer of horror and techno thrillers and a member of both the British Fantasy Society and the British Science Fiction Association. He honed his craft with the London School of Journalism and the Open University (BA, English).
Colin has run a number of tech-based businesses, worked in rat-infested workshops, and scoured the back streets of London looking for characters and stories—which he found in abundance. He has a number of publishing credits with stories alongside authors such as: Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, and Graham Masterton.
Colin’s latest book, a SF thriller, is ARTIFICIAL EVIL: Book 1 of The Techxorcist. The second book: ASSEMBLY CODE is due out in spring, 2013.
1. What drives you to write?
I think every day brings me a new drive to write. Some days its money (I’m a full time writer and earn my income from the words I write), other days its fame, while still others it’s the burning desire to create worlds and characters. As much as reading a book can provide the means of escape, so too—for me at least—does writing a book. I’m an introvert and often prefer to get away from the real world and spend it in fiction-land where I have more control and influence over things.
2. What attracted you to writing horror?
I grew up on horror (and thrillers) and I suppose that has shaped much of my world view. Another part of it is the essential conflict horror brings; the way it breaks humans down to their instincts and base emotions, stripping away a lot of the bullshit that modern society demends we wear. It gets at the truth of things. Explores who we truly are and what we’re really capable of.
3. Who are your favourite horror writers?
I’m afraid mine are rather typical: King, Lovecraft, Mathesson. I also put some of Bradbury’s stories and Koontz’ in there too. A slightly left-field choice is Ryu Murakami. His work is brilliant, and often brings a fresh perspective to things. Of current horror writers I really like Adam Nevill, Gary McMahon, James Everington, Craig Saunders and Mark West.
4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?
Lovecraft’s Mountain of Madness, King’s Salem’s Lot, Murakami’s Audition and Nevill’s Last Days. All those stand out as great example’s of the author’s style and abilities. And they’re simply brilliant books.
5. Ebooks or paperback?
Both! As a reader I enjoy both formats; the former for their cost and convenience, and the latter for their memento quality.
6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?
A professional cover, intriguing blurb, and if possible a unique story, or at the very least a new spin on an idea. I’m not a big fan of trends, whether it be vampires, zombies, or whatever the monster-of-the-month happens to be. If an author can go beyond the trends and fads and communicate something that chimes with some inner emotion or truth, then it’ll get my attention. Word of mouth is a driver in my decisions too—specifically from friends and reviewers who seem to share the same kind of books as I do.
7. Who is your favourite fictional character?
I hate to be egotistical and suggest one of my own, but I have to be truthful. I have a young woman in my Techxorcist series called Petal who grabbed my attention the minute I wrote her first description and line of dialogue. She was one of the reasons for turning what was supposed to be a standalone short story into a trilogy of novels.
Outside of my own, I really liked the Japanese character of Kenji in Murakami’s ‘In The Miso Soup.’ Despite his job of touring foreigners around Japan’s sex industry, he’s suprisingly naïve and fragile, and eminitely likeable. You fear for him from the start.
8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
I used to do extensive plotting, but more recently I’ve pared the plots down to brief milestones to allow a little more organic growth. I still like to have that basic structure in place though as it makes sure I hit the right notes at the right time. It also helps in knowing where the story has to go so it remains tight and focussed.
9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
Occassionaly. I tend to think a lot about my characters before writing begins so I already know where they should go and how to react most of the time. I do allow the story and the character to go places naturally wherever possible if I suddenly think of something that I hadn’t considered.
10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
I draft to music and edit to silence. I find the right piece of music can really help get me into that semi-hypnotic state where you’re completely in the creative side of the brain and the story just flows naturally. If I’m writing in silence I tend to get distracted easily. If I’m listening to a soundtrack like Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy, I can really focus on the story; maybe it’s something to do with the beat or the melody, but it seems to unlock/allow me to enter a focussed creative mode.
Sometimes. It really depends on the story. If I’m writing something technical like my technothriller series (Techxorcist), I’ll occassionaly need to read up on lasers, computer/radio communications, low earth orbit and suchlike. I don’t do so much that I end up writing a thesis, but just enough to get the basic science write in order to maintain that suspension of disbelief. Another area that I might do a lot of research is the geography of a setting—especially ones I’ve never visisted. Google Maps and Wikipedia are the main sources for those.
12. Facebook or Twitter?
They both have their pros and cons. I tend to like FB for more involved discussions, but hate it for all the damed meme photos and pointless quotes that get posted. I like Twitter for quick banter and sharing of links and things, but to be enitrely honest I’m growing weary of social media lately. I’ve found that it’s becoming quite disconnecting. Especially twitter can have that problem, where people only communicate in memes or retweets. It actually makes meaningful conversation and relationships difficult. That said, it does have many upsides, but I’d personally like to spend less time there, and more time communicating my ideas through my books or in-person activities.
13. What really pisses you off about writing?
Writers who talk about writing more than they write; the advice industry that continues to reinforce pointless myths; publishers who have their heads up their arses and refuse to modernise their business; stupid categories like New Adult; the elitist nonesense from the ‘literary’ world; the inferiority complex from the genre world; the fact that often the most badly written bilge is the most popular while genuinely brilliant works don’t get the same the recognition. Okay, I’ll stop there. In truth, there are way more things I love about writing and the writing industry and they totally outway the few things that make writing difficult.