Throughout November, we will be shining the spotlight on one author, through a series of reviews, interviews and special features.
There is no author more fitting to kick off this literary juggernaut than Barry Napier.
I like to imagine that Barry is a robot, or at the very least a non-sparkling vampire who never sleeps, because he is continually exploring various facets of the writing universe.
With published short stories, novels, eBooks, poetry and a comic book series on the go, Barry truly is akin to an artist dabbling in various mediums.
Barry took some time out of these literary adventures to share his thoughts on writing, the eBook revolution and the importance of exploring all creative avenues when it comes to one’s craft.
I knew after reading Clive Barker for the first time (this was at the age of 15 or so) that I wanted to write. While King instilled the love of horror in me as early as age 12, it was Barker that showed me all the possibilities to dark fiction. I remember reading The Great and Secret Show and practically having to totally re-evaluate how I viewed horror and fantasy.
I started writing during my freshman year of high school. I submitted my first short story to a market at the age of 16, as a sophomore. It was called “But Is It Art?” and involved an underground art troupe that murdered and disemboweled people to use their internal organs as abstract art. It was pretty lousy, but there was a lot of blood, so I was happy with it at that young age. I like to think that I have matured somewhat from that stage.
Now I write what many vaguely refer to as “dark fiction.” Much of it has horror basics to it, but it’s not really pinned to any one genre. I like to dabble in sci-fi and fantasy here and there as well. And, as much as I hate to lend any momentum to the movement, I actually think the term “paranormal” fits most of my writing more so than “horror”.
There was a time when you wouldn’t even consider picking up an eReader, let alone publishing your stories in eBook format. What changed your mind?
When there was a huge surge in YA fiction, I knew that the sort of stuff I was writing was going to be even harder to market. Don’t get me wrong…I love a great deal of YA fiction, but I could never write it (trust me, I’ve tried). And since the YA audience is often a bit ahead of the curve on technology, it seemed logical to me that e-readers will only continue to grow in popularity. The whole Kindle revolution and what the Church of Konrath was doing to the publishing world was interesting to me…not just as a writer, but as a reader and consumer.
I had a book I had spent 2 years working on. It had been passed on by 4 agents and 2 small presses. Those rejections did garner some positive feedback and encouragement, but there were lots of “just not the right time” sort of responses. So I figured I’d test the self publishing waters with this book The Masks of Our Fathers. After three months, while it wasn’t selling in big numbers, it was selling here and there at a moderate pace. In those 3 months, I earned more money on The Masks of Our Fathers than I had earned from my single small press effort in almost 2 years.
That’s not to knock the small press at all. But from a writer’s standpoint, it seems smarter to me to be able to control every single aspect of the book, including the money made. Still, I have a soft spot in my heart for the small press. I still submit stuff to them. As an example my novel The Bleeding Room was recently released by a small press, Graveside Tales.
Have your goals as a writer changed since embracing ePublishing?
The verdict is still out on that one. Overall, I’d say no. My main goal is to eventually make a living from writing. If I can manage to land an agent and a multi-book deal with a major publisher, that would be great. But if I somehow end up in the growing ranks of ultra successful self-published writers that’s great, too. My goal is, I think, the same as most other writers: get lots of readers and be able to make a living off of it, no matter which avenue I have to take.
The only way ePublishing as altered my goals is that I now have a third outlet when the major publishers and agents aren’t biting. Now, rather than having to go the route of the small press queries, there is also the option of self publishing.
Case in point: I am currently working on a series of books. Once the first book is query ready, I will send it out to a few agents. As it floats around out there in submission limbo, I will continue to hammer away at Book 2. If, within a certain window of time, there have been no takers from agents and bigger presses, I plan on re-reading the manuscripts, finding the flaws that may have prevented it fro being published, fixing those errors, and then pushing straight to self-publishing territory. This way, I will likely already having 2 of 5 planned books ready for release. But, best laid plans and all that…
What has been your biggest challenge in making this transition?
Marketing. I am not good at it. I don’t like it. It’s one more thing to distract a writer from what’s really important…writing. I also see a trend in self publishing that I am afraid I might one day fall into. A lot of self published writers openly share sales numbers and figures. I am all for this, mainly because it is inspiring to see some of the stories. But at the same time, some of these posts and articles tend to be more competitive than anything. I just hope that this doesn’t eventually dismantle the little bit of credibility that self publishing has managed to gain over these last few years. Staying away from all of that, as a writer who enjoys the craft, is harder than you might think.
Give readers a list & short description of your current self-published works.
The Bleeding Room – my own twist on the haunted house staple. A blend of classic myth, ghost hunting, and an ancient evil.
The Masks of Our Fathers – A novel about a man who escapes to a childhood location in the woods of southern Virginia to deal with his personal demons. When he arrives there, with the intention of killing himself, he finds that something has been waiting in those woods. Something knows Jason has returned…and he has returned at the worst possible time.
13 Broken Nightlights – A collection of short stories that have been published in small press publications over the past 3 years. These range from crude horror to the nearly poetic.
A Mouth for Picket Fences – My first poetry collection; a narrative approach to dark events taking place in a small rural town.
As a writer with your finger in so many pies (fiction, poetry, comic books), do you have a set routine as far as what you will devote your time to on any given day? Or do you just allow your creativity to guide how you spend your time?
Not really. Although, I am trying to make something of a schedule for myself. I’ve spent the past 2 months giving about 80% of my writing attention to the series I mentioned earlier. The other 20% was split between another novel in progress and my poetry. I have just wrapped up my 2nd book of poetry and while it seeks a home, I think I’ll probably not touch poetry for a while now. Given this sort of “test schedule” I am finding that I do seem to be much more productive when I make myself follow at least some inkling of a schedule.
The only hard and fast rule I really have is that when I write on the graphic novel, Birdwatching from Mars, I know that 100% of my attention needs to be on that. So for about a week or two, it’s only that one project. And because of how we are trying to plan out the schedule for the issues, this only occurs about once every 6 weeks or so.
If you could impart one piece of wisdom onto up-and-coming authors who are faced with new mediums for sharing their work and an ever-changing landscape in the book & publishing world, what would it be?
If the mood strikes you, don’t wait. I can almost guarantee you that if you ask any writer of indie/Kindle variety if they would have changed anything, there answer would be; “I wish I had started sooner”. With the way technology is advancing, changes in the way we receive all kinds of entertainment are changing. While I still prefer a good old hardback or well-worn paperback to the feel of an e-reader, I think digital books are going to be here for quite a while.
Many aspiring writers go this route for the wrong reasons…they think it’s a surefire way to money. For a very select few, this is true. But it comes with patience and a hell of a lot of hard work. I think it’s safe to say that this new platform of publishing is better tailored to writers that are more concerned about getting more readers rather than a huge cash grab. If you are one such writer, I’d say go for it.
Now, let everyone know a bit about your upcoming adventures, places to find you, and any parting words you are itching to share.
You can always see what I’m up to at my blog, Ghosts in Parentheses. As far as upcoming adventures, there are a few. As I said above, my novel The Bleeding Room has just recently been released by Graveside Tales. I also have a series in the making. Book 1 will be shopped around via traditional means in the coming weeks. If no takers there, I’ll likely send it for more beta readers and then ready it for a self publishing release.
As far as parting words, I really don’t have any (mainly because I just tend to ramble). I think the only ones would really be very cliched. And that is: Don’t be afraid to try something new. Had you told me 5 years ago that I’d have a poetry collection published, I would have laughed in your face (I’ve had one published through Belfire Press and another that is being shopped around). Same goes for comic books. I thought it was too grandiose of an idea but then gave it a try anyway and am loving it.
As a writer, I think you almost HAVE to try it all. If for no other reason than to see if you have any talents you are neglecting.
Have you read any of Barry’s books? How would you describe his writing? Which book was your favorite and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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