Colin F. Barnes is a writer of SF/Technothriller and horror. He’s influenced by his everyday life, and the weird happenings that go on in the shadowy locales of Essex, UK. Colin likes to blend genres and is currently working on a Cyberpunk/Techothriller series The Techxorcist. Colin also runs a micro-digital publisher Anachron Press specialising in genre and pulp.
Like many writers, he has an insatiable appetite for reading. Particularly influential authors include: Stephen King, William Gibson, Ray Bradbury, James Herbert, Albert Camus, H.P Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and a vast array of unknown authors who he has had the privilege of beta reading for. Find out more at the Colin F. Barnes website.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
The writing came second, but the genre came first. I was about nine years old and quite an advanced reader. I had gone through all the graded books in the small school library and started looking at the more adult themed books. I was attracted to the wonderful covers and the thick size compared to the pamphlet-like ‘learn-to-read’ books we were made to read. My first was an old James Herbert book; I forget which one now, probably The Rats or one of his early ones. From there I started reading Stephen King.
It was around that time when decent horror films were starting to be released on VHS at my local rental shop and I soon discovered the joy of horror films with titles such as The Thing, The Omen and The Exorcist. It was those films and books that seeded my imagination with my own stories.
I then had the chance to write these stories in an English class at secondary school. Luckily, I had a very encouraging teacher who gave me the confidence and freedom to carry on. Naturally, while my classmates were writing stories about horses and football, I was writing about cannibals and ghosts.
I’d say my debut novel Artificial Evil (Book 1 of The Techxorcist). It combines horror with cyberpunk. I liken it to The Exorcist meets Blade Runner meets Mad Max. Running it close is my novella Heart for the Ravens a 19th century gothic horror in the vein of Shelley and Poe.
What are you working on now?
I tend to work on a number of projects concurrently. In terms of novels, I’m working on books 2 & 3 for The Techxorcist series (Assembly Code, and Alpha Omega respectively.) I have just finished the first draft of a weird/Lovecraftian anthology that is destined for the small press. As yet that only has a working titled of Cave Story. Other than that I’m in the process of writing another weird/horror story titled of Darkewood & Ivory which is set in a fictional Essex.
In terms of publishing with my company Anachron Press I have a number of horror titles lined up for the first quarter of 2013. The first being Urban Occult: a really great collection of urban horror stories from writers such as: Gary McMahon, Gary Fry, Mark West, Adam Millard, Ren Warom, KT Davies and more. (15 stories in total). And lastly, I will be publishing a short horror novel titled The Noose & Gibbet from Craig Saunders. So all-in-all, a very busy start to the year!
Who do you admire in the horror world?
There’s so many I admire and draw inspiration from, some are the common ones most people would cite such as Stephen King and H.P.Lovecraft; it’s hard not to admire them as their influence is so wide and ever-present. Brian Lumley is probably the horror writer I admire the most. His Necroscope series of books were a huge influence on me.
In terms of newer, current writers, I enjoy Adam Nevill, Gary McMahon and Conrad Williams. And for his approach and willingness to do something different in terms of publishing, I admire what Dave Moody’s done with his series of books.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I don’t necessarily think it’s one or the other, you can have really good stories with both, and good stories without either. Like everything in life too much of a single thing can spoil the whole. Although, saying that, I’m more inclined to enjoy a psychological horror story because they are harder to get right, and, in my humble opinion, require greater skill. But when done well, a psychological story will embed itself in your mind for a long time, sometimes forever.
I’ll never forget the first time I watched The Exorcist for instance. It wasn’t the makeup, or the shocking scenes that got to me; it was the psychological aspect of it. I think too many writers rely solely on gore for their scares. It quickly becomes tedious, like the trend for ‘torture porn’ films lately. I’m all for gore if it’s delivered slowly and sparingly. Too much gore dilutes its effectiveness. I like for there to be some internal story logic behind the gore, not blood and guts just for the sake of it.
Because they’ll be entertained. I work hard to make my stories work on a number of levels wherever possible, but with the core idea of keeping the reader entertained throughout. I work in a range of genres and like to blend them together to hopefully create something different.
Recommend a book.
I recently finished Tim Waggoner’s Like Death and thought that was a superb book. It combined psychological elements and gore perfectly well, and even included a unique spin on the serial killer angle. And to top it off, his protagonist was a writer, which is a trope I always enjoy (and one of the reasons I enjoy Stephen King). Failing that, Adam Nevill’s Last Days was my favourite horror book of 2012. In some ways it’s quite classical and Adam clearly knows the genre inside out. A truly chilling book.
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