Monday, June 3, 2013

Five minutes with Colin F Barnes #interview

Recently I sold a short story which appeared in the Urban Occult anthology (Anachron Press) edited by  Colin F Barnes. It was a bit of an odd story, half-written on a whim, but playing with a flirtation between occultist and media that I adore and loathe by equal measure. So, today I'm happy to invite Colin over to chat a little more about this anthology. Welcome, Colin!

Now all anthologies start off with an idea. What sparked off Urban Occult

It's quite difficult to remember really. I have various ideas daily. Usually they spin out from conversations I have with people. I think one day I got thinking about occult fiction and it came to me that I'd like to read some that are contemporary and set in an urban situation.

An open call for submissions can be a bit of a free-for-all. What were you looking for in submissions? 

A strong story that fits the theme, or at least compliments the theme is what I look for first, and then it's the quality of the prose and finally a voice. If a story had those three things then it would stand a good chance of being an acceptance.

What has some of the feedback for Urban Occult been? 

Of the readers that have come back to me about it, it's been overwhelmingly positive. As an example, here's a few quotes from some of the reviews:

"Like a modern, slightly darker, homage to Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected there is some fine fiction on display her" — Paul Homes (The Eloquent Page).

"I don't read many anthologies, but knowing the quality of fiction Anachron Press releases, I couldn't help but gobble this one up. And I was not disappointed: URBAN OCCULT is simply one of the best anthologies on the market" — Dave Thomas (Editor at DarkFuse).

"This book runs the gamut of what can fit in this genre, and I found myself enjoying each and every story on its own merit" — Stephen Ormsby (Goodreads and Amazon Reader).

What other anthologies have you worked on/are working on? 

Before Urban Occult, I have worked on a number of anthologies, such as:
- City of Hell Chronicles, a horror collection of linked horror stories.
- Day of Demons, a dark fantasy anthology
- Crime Net, a small collection of cyberpunk/crime stories.

I have plans to do another anthology at the beginning of 2014 and at the moment I'm considering that might be a follow-up to Urban Occult. I had a lot of submissions for that one, and it seems to be a subject that garners a lot of interest.

If you could sit an aspiring author down for a little heart-to-heart chat, what would you say? 

The first thing I would say is to drop the word 'aspire' and just get on and write. I'd also advise to go to a class or a workshop and learn the basics of story telling, and from then just write every day and keep improving. Too many writers don't actually write all that much. You can only get better if you write more.

What are the five cardinal sins you keep seeing in submissions which are automatic form rejections?

I don't if there are five particular sins as such that I look for, it's generally a combination of various factors. For instance, if a story is on theme and works but some parts of the prose are clunky, I'll often give editorial feedback and give the writer a chance to fix it. Complete rejections are usually:

1. Off theme
2. Excessive violence for no reason
3. Zombies or other overused tropes
4. Ignoring the guidelines
5. An absence of style/skill

Who are three authors in SFF/H you reckon folks should keep an eye out for.

That's a tough one, there's so many writerRen Warom and KT Davies. Another name I'd recommend is a seasoned writer among the small press, and someone who I think who writes some of the best psychological and period horror: Mark West.
s doing interesting things, including your good self. Although if you were to put the thumb screws on me I'd offer up two writers who I've published before:

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Urban Occult

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