I first heard of Colin F. Barnes when in a particularly grumpy mood I typed in ‘Killing my Boss’ into Amazon = one direct result. The description mirrored just how I was feeling at that time. I love single click buy at times like those. If you want to find out more read my review.
Since then I’ve chatted to Colin quite a bit on-line and have found him to be an engaging character with some interesting views.
I did my first interview with Andy Remic a while ago, and I enjoyed being able to ask the questions I wanted to hear answers to. I decided to ask the lovely Mr Barnes if he’d like to indulge me (with an interview).
Q. As I’ve mentioned in my pre-amble I am a huge fan of ‘Killing my Boss’. Given how cathartic it was to read, can you express how it felt to write, and more importantly how did your boss feel about it?
When I first heard about the project via Mark Yoshimoto Necmoff’s website I felt a sense of anticipation and vengeful joy. I’ve worked for some prime douche-bags of the highest order, and this was a great way of exorcising years of bitterness and latent anger. It was a lot of fun to write those stories, and it certainly helped to let go of the frustration I felt when working for those muppets. Luckily, no one is aware of which bosses I’m referring to in the stories, although I’ve often been tempted to ping an email their way. Maybe one day I’ll do that J
Q. Like most writers you also have a ‘real’ job. Do you write before/after work or during lunch breaks? What’s your top tip for making time, other than canceling an XBOX subscription?
Luckily, I’m a bit of a boring guy, slightly misanthropic, and not much of a gamer. I also have no children to look after, so most of my spare time is mine. I’m a night owl and suffer from insomnia so I usually write at night, very rarely in the morning (although I did experiment with that during nanowrimo, and I lasted a week before I reverted to type) and occasionally during lunch breaks if my colleagues leave me alone for long enough.
If you want to be a writer, then you have to make it a priority. Too many people complain about not ‘having’ enough time, and yet they are watching TV, DVDs, playing games etc. If you cut those out, you’ll find you have plenty of time to write, but many don’t want to make the sacrifices.
Q. Your next anthology ‘Day of Demons’ is out soon. What is the theme for it, and where would you pitch it in the market place?
Day of Demons is a collection of stories that explore the concept of a character overcoming (or not) a demon in the space of a single day. It could be a literal demon, or an internal emotional one. It’s mainly a fantasy collection, but it has some contemporary tales too, so it’s a nice mix. I’d firmly place it in the fantasy genre; we have typical epic-fantasy style stories, a sword & sorcery tale and some darker/weirder stories. It’s a really nice mix and I’m super-pleased with the quality of submissions. It should be available in early April and I’m excited to hear what people thing of the stories.
Q. Have you discovered any new unpublished authors that we should look out for?
I was fortunate enough to publish some first-time authors with City of Hell (Amy Overly, Kendall Grey, Ren Warom, Victoria Griesdoorn) and a few more in Day of Demons. Krista Walsh is a new writer who has a story in Day of Demons which is a lot of fun. Although I might be biased, all the authors in both projects are worth looking out for. Anne Michaud has some exceptional flash fiction on her blog worth reading, and Belinda Frisch has a strong collection of short stories titled ‘Crisis Hospital.’ Ren Warom has a vivid serial for free on her blog and on the writerlot site called ‘The Umwelt.’
Q. As an editor that has to deal with submissions you must get to read some bizarre stuff. Have you ever been so freaked out that you had to stop reading?
Hah, well yes and no. In the main I’d say the quality has been pretty good so far. You get some submissions where the author clearly hasn’t read the submission guidelines and sends something completely inappropriate, but I’ve not yet received anything so bad or so weird that I’ve had to stop reading. Given my tastes and books I’ve read in the past, I doubt I’d read anything that would freak me out, but I’d love to find it. If you can freak me out with a story, then I know it’s a real winner!
Q. The last anthology you edited ‘City of Hell Chronicles’ was a book I really enjoyed and had a very different feel from a lot of horror anthologies. The thing that really surprised me when I looked back at the names of the authors and Google’d them was that most of them seemed to be young ladies. Has the trend of finding high quality fiction by female authors carried over to this anthology?
Glad you enjoyed it, I’m very proud of what we put together for City of Hell. With regards the female bias, it was mostly an accident. It was an invitation only project, and it just happened that most of the writers in my social circle who I admired and were available were women. Although I did hope I’d have more women involved because I feel the horror genre is dominated by men, and I think women often write some of the best horror stories (Shelley, Brite and Rice for example).
For Day of Demons, I opened up submissions to anyone, so the stories are a mix of male and female. We have 5 from women and 4 from men. In the main, I had more submissions from women, so I think City of Hell helped in attracting more women writers. Which is a good thing in my opinion.
Q. Speaking of CoH (oooh, linked questions) I notice that there is a second book due out this year. How easy or hard has putting this one together been compared to the first?
It’s hard to say at the moment because submissions are still open for a couple of weeks (at the time of this interview). It’s easier in that I’ve opened to general submissions, but harder in that I don’t have that close working relationship with the authors I had in the first one. There are pros and cons about that process.
I think writing for City of Hell 2 is harder for writers than the first one because they’ve got a whole world to learn. It’s almost like writing tie-in novels; you have a brief and a pre-existing playground in which to play in. For some that can be highly creative, for others it can be limiting.
Q. What question have you always wanted to answer, but have never been asked?
Hmm, the question would involve a dwarf, a bucket of eels, two strippers, and a casket of scotch. My answer would be: what happened at writing retreat, stays at writing retreat.
Q. Final question. Which insect (linking back to CoH again) do you find the most alien or just plain wrong?
Wasps. They are the embodiment of pure evil.
Thanks for the interview, Tony. It’s been a lot of fun, and I really appreciate your support for City of Hell. I hope you like the new releases.
I’d like to thank Colin for taking the time to talk to me (rather than getting a restraining order) and suggest that you look out for both of the upcoming anthologies mentioned above. Oh and go buy ‘Killing my Boss’ now. If you don’t map the murder of your boss after reading it then there is something very wrong with you.