Sunday, March 4, 2012

Author Insides - Brian Barnett

Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky. He has appeared in nearly thirty publications, online and in print, including several anthologies. He was co-editor of the anthologies Toe Tags, Toe Tags II and Long Live The New Flesh: Year One with William Pauley III, and has published a collection of horror stories titled State of the Dark. For up-to-date news on all things Brian: http://merrilyhauntingfrankfort.blogspot.com/

Brian's humorous poetry appeared in the Autumn 2011 issue of The Battered Suitcase.


Brian, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I’m not really sure if I consider myself a true ‘writer’ even now. I can remember back to when I was younger (I can’t remember my exact age) and my parents had an old typewriter in the living room. I felt inspired enough to want to write then, but I had no idea how to even approach doing it. Plus typing was a bit of a mystery to me.

Now, I write whenever I can, which is not very often it seems. That’s why I don’t consider myself a writer, really. ‘Writers write’ is the saying I’ve always heard. I only write when I’m able, which is not nearly often enough. Sounds redundant, huh? Probably because I’m rusty from lack of writing.

Why do you write?

I love to write. I love translating the stories that I see in running through my head repeatedly like that obscure late-night B-movie that nobody else has ever seen. I love being able to bring those stories to life so that other people can see why I’m so deranged.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

Not at all. Well, at least not like I imagined it when I was younger. I used to think that if your name was stamped on a book cover, you were well-to-do and rich. As I got older and noticed that there were tons of writers out there and probably the top 1% actually made a living from it, I started to wise up.

Also I’ve been far more successful that I deserve to be. No I haven’t made a great deal of money, but I am certainly gaining a lot of credits and I’m improving all the time. Who knows, I might actually make enough to gas up the family van soon.

What do you think makes a good story? 

I used to think lots of scary monsters and lots of spooky sequences made stories good. But the more I read and the more I write, the more I see that the characters, especially in longer stories, are the key to a great story. If people care about your characters, they will be sucked in. No matter how many cool sequences you put in your story, readers won’t take it as seriously if they don’t care about the characters. I’ve read a few books now where I thought, “wow that was cool”, or “wow that was creative”, but I didn’t like the overall product because the characters were so weak.

What's your favorite genre to read? 

Horror. That’s probably 90% of my reading load. However, I like a few other genres to change the pace from time to time.

Who is your favorite author or poet? 

Author: Richard Matheson
Poet: Edgar Allan Poe

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

I’d love to say Richard Matheson, but after reflecting on all that I’ve written, I’m a lot more pulpy than he is. I guess H.P. Lovecraft or Guy N. Smith would fit the “influential” bill.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person? 

I haven’t really approached any books or stories that have influenced me that deeply. To me, books are entertainment, not life-changing. Perhaps I just hung myself with that statement, but I have yet to find anything so earth-shattering that I change my viewpoints on life.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

I wish I knew. Sometimes the writing bug just bites me and I can crank out a publishable short story in one 20-minute to half-hour sitting. If I was always that inspired, I would have a much larger body of work.

What does your family think of your writing? 

My family is very supportive. They usually buy the books that my work is in (anthologies and magazines). My wife provides enough tough love to keep me grounded. If I write something that is garbage, she’s not afraid to tell me. The problem is I don’t usually listen until it’s too late. Then once I wipe the egg off my face, I open up a little more to her suggestions.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 

Sporadic is probably the best word I can think of. If I get time and inspiration, I write like crazy. Other times, I write very little if at all, I’m ashamed to say.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals? 

Nope. I just sit down and go to it. I used to create outlines for every story. But now I only do that for stories with longer story arcs and multiple characters.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Just keeping my muse happy and busy seems like the most challenging part of my writing. I also have a difficult time staying focused on one project at a time.

What are your current projects?

I have a few novellas in the works. I’m a few chapters into four different stories. As I said in the previous answer, I have a hard time keeping focus. I’ll write a chapter or two for one story and then I’ll move to another. I usually don’t get a whole lot of progress on any one story at a time. However, I usually finish two or three at the same time, so I guess I break even in the end.

What are you planning for future projects?

Always planning. I have close to a dozen projects jotted down. Now if I could just get to writing them…

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Toughen up. You’ll get rejected probably more than you’re accepted when you’re first starting out. It’s nothing personal. Just take the advise of the editors and improve your work. That’s the only way to get better.

Also, be patient. That’s my biggest problem. Some publications take months to review your work. Don’t pester them with lots of follow-up emails. You certainly don’t want to annoy the editor before they read your story. If more than three months go by, then yes, send a polite follow-up email to see if the email gremlins stole your story. Outside of that, it’s a lot of sitting around and waiting.

Where else can we find your work? 

Everywhere, it seems. Probably the quickest way to access my stories is to access them from my blog page. I have them everywhere, so I’m not going to list them here.

My blog:  http://merrilyhauntingfrankfort.blogspot.com/