Today’s author interview features a person who does more than one genre. A man who writes fantasy, horror and sci-fi, Brian’s had some experience with creating a comic book version of his superhero series. We connected through mutual friends and it’s been history ever since.
Brian, tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Well, I’m Brian Barr and I am a fiction writer. I mostly write fantasy, horror, and science fiction. My stories are usually of a dark and mature nature, but I’m diverse. My debut novel, Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows, came out last year. My second novel, Psychological Revenge: A Super Inc. Novel, just came out this year in August of 2016. I co-write a comic series I co-created with Chuck Amadori called Empress, which is currently being drawn by Sullivan Suad and colored by Geraldo Filho.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
All my life, I’ve just wanted to be creative. Writing is the main thing that came naturally to me, and that I enjoy doing. So my biggest ambition is to continue writing, and connecting with fans that genuinely like my work. I don’t want to tailor my work to a certain market or niche. I basically want to write whatever I want, and let whoever truly likes my stories to read them. I’ve written dark, occult fantasy, cyberpunk, horror stories with pirates, and many other tales.
Which writers inspire you?
Tad Williams, George R. R. Martin, Clive Barker, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alan Moore, Jim Starlin.
Of all genres, I write occult fiction the most by far. There’s a lot of historical fiction mixed with that, as I love history and different cultures.
My most recently published book is Psychological Revenge: A Super Inc. Novel. This is my second book I’ve gotten to publish, and it’s a book about crime fighters in a dystopian future. It’s urban noir mixed with science-fantasy.
My series Carolina Daemonic is an occult horror-fantasy set in an alternative timeline, where the American South won the Civil War. I have one book from that series, Confederate Shadows, published and available on Amazon. I finished two other books in the series, a prequel and a sequel, which aren’t published yet.
Altogether, there will be four main Carolina Daemonic novels when I’m done, and I have a lot of short stories for the series.
Along with my novels, the comic Empress is an ongoing series that’s basically supernatural noir mixed with mystery and historical fiction.
I also write a lot of short stories and they’ve been published in different magazines and anthologies from J. Ellington Ashton Press, Dark Chapter Press, Fiction Magazines, Mantid Magazine, Zoetic Press, and other publications.
Where can we buy or see them?
Most of my books are on Amazon through my Author Page:
My Empress comics in their entirety can be found on ComiXology:
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Wow… I am a multi-character kind of guy, so I have various characters in my books.
For the new book, Psychological Revenge, the main characters are the villains. There is Brain Surgeon, a parasitic extraterrestrial that feeds on human brains, and then there’s Principal Mind, an electrokinetic and telekinetic misanthrope seeking revenge against humanity. These villains have a rivalry and basically want to kill each other.
Along with the villains, there’s the five-member crime fighting team, Super Incorporated. They have to stop Brain Surgeon and Principal Mind before they destroy Capital City, the metropolis they inhabit, and each other.
Give us a summary of what your book is about.
The book is about the summary between these two psychotic villains with mental powers and how Super Inc. has to stop them. The book also breaks into the strange politics of the world that affects how Super Inc. can go after the villains. In this future dystopia, vigilantism is outlawed. Crime fighters must be licensed through the government, and they have to join government-owned agencies. Because of this, a super-powered crusader cannot simply choose whatever crimes they fight. They have to go through the government for everything, and the government can deny them a fight, or make them do a mission they don’t want to do. So this novel basically looks at the limited freedom heroes have and what they can and can’t do.
If you had to choose a favorite character that you’ve written, who would it be and why?
That’s a really hard question because I like so many characters I’ve created.
There’s Bana, a Taino pirate in my Carolina Daemonic short stories. I love her. She’s a swashbuckler, great with a cutlass and a flintlock pistol. Columbus wiped out her family, decimated her island, and so she took off with buccaneers.
Close to Bana, though, are two characters I created for the Carolina Daemonic comics: Zevulun Khodorov, a Kabbalist magician, and Han Zhao Lin, a Taoist magician.
What are you working on at the minute?
Right now, I’ve been focused on writing short horror and dark fantasy stories for my publisher, J. Ellington Ashton Press, as they’re gearing up on a lot of anthologies that will be released throughout the end of this year. I’ve been thinking of writing the third and final Carolina Daemonic book, Heritage of Hate, since books 0 (The Daemonic Civil War), 1 (Confederate Shadows), and 2 (Rebel Hell) are done.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember, since I was a kid. I loved telling horror stories. I made little comics on lined paper. It was probably in the first grade or around that time that I wrote my first story. While I’ve liked writing for most of my life, it was probably high school where I thought about being a writer. I wasn’t in my twenties until figuring out that I could seriously be a writer, though.
Why do you write?
It’s what I love to do. It makes me happy. I get so many ideas all of the time, they just flow… and I love to build stories from my ideas, characters and places. It’s just fun.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
My friend Matt Rowe was very creative and active as an artist. He inspired me when I was about 22, 23. Seeing him work on an underground punk/LGBTQIA magazine, I thought it was great and it made me want to make something. So I came up with this character called Serpent King and made a shitty comic out of it. Didn’t know that years later, I’d be inspired to get back into writing stories and actually (GASP) getting published.
I finished a Serpent King novel at the beginning of this year.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
How do you structure your day, by word count, hours or by pages?
I’m a word count person. I have days where I don’t write that much, and that’s fine by me… but I can hardly help not writing most of the time. When I’m in the flow, I can produce many pages at a time. Just depends.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Computer. I love being able to research things via the internet and books. I also like being able to save and store ideas with a computer, not having to recopy stuff from written notes. It’s just faster, smoother, and more convenient.
Where do the your ideas come from?
Reading, thinking, dreaming, conversations, so many places.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’m a note taker, and I’ll remember ideas sometimes without having to jot them down, but I’m not a outliner most of the time. Every now and then, I’ll have sequences set where I know roman numeral I. a, b, and c will lead to roman numeral II. A, b, and c… but I’d let the ideas take me most of the time.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve learned from other authors, and I’m more cognizant of my mistakes.
What are your greatest challenges in writing and how have you adapted to them?
Revising. I learn how to pick out mistakes better every time I do it, and how to not create more mistakes…
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Both. I go through drafts, edit what I can, and then real editors help. They can see errors I can’t.
What process do you use to proofread or edit your books?
I go through my manuscripts and keep my eyes open, reread chapters, make sure everything connects and makes sense, find the spelling errors, sentence structure errors, all I can find.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
J. Ellington Press hired great editors for my books. For Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows, I had Jim Goforth and Michael Fish Fisher (Michael also did my cover for Confederate Shadows, which is amazing). For my latest book, Psychological Revenge, I got Mark Woods and Toneye Blakk. These guys are such great people, I’m impressed with how much they helped me.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I commissioned some artists years ago to draw concepts of my characters. The artists are Michael B. Long and Nick Aldridge. They’re amazing. Justin B. Long made the logo based on a sketch I had, and Nick Aldridge drew the characters based on other sketches I made as well. They brought it all to a professional, beautiful level.
Who designed your book cover/s?
Though Nick and Michael B. Long were the artists, Michael Fish Fisher designed the cover as well with the art I gave him. He’s great at covers.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely. It’s the first thing people see when they look at a book. It’s so important.
How are you publishing this book and why?
This is a small-press release, through J. Ellington Ashton Press. So it’s traditional and independent.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
As a self-publishers, you have to finance everything from cover artists to editors, etc. A publisher helps do things for free if they accept your book. I think both ways are great. I know lots of great writers who self-publish, and I’ve self-published some works.
How do you market your books?
Online and by word of mouth.
Do you have any advice for those who want to do Indie publishing, such as social media, marketing, giveaways and promoting sales?
I’m still learning myself! I’ll take any tips.
How do you relax?
I write… and I travel.
What is your favorite book and why?
Tad William’s Otherland, because it is a multi-character book that spans four volumes, ties up all loose ends, and is thorough from front to back. Tad Williams is a genius with cliffhangers, characterization, scenes, unraveling mystery, and so many other things… Otherland is the perfect book to me.
How do you get inspired to write?
The inspiration is in me. I can’t help it. I’m just driven to write.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Start writing. Look on the internet and find writers. Don’t waste your time and don’t think that publishing is for a set group of elites who live in outer space. Do what you love at any time and never compromise your art for anyone or anything.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Do what you like and never do anything as a writer that makes you feel uncomfortable. Know what you’re going for and go for it. Do it with love. Compare and contrast your art with no one.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I see it becoming more wide-spread and people publishing whatever they want… love it.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Thank you for checking out my interview. Very nice of you. Please read my new book, Psychological Revenge: A Super Inc. Novel, and check out Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/hgjfe2x
Psychological Revenge in Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/zxkc53p
Psychological Revenge in Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/hus9qgl