Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Author interview no.191: Richard Farren Barber (revisited)


Back in November 2011, I interviewed author Richard Farren Barber for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the one hundred and ninety-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with horror writer Richard Farren Barber. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello, Richard. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Richard: I have a very clear memory of writing a story at school when I was about eight. (I can even tell you the name of the story; “The Red Cherry”!) and struggling to write anything beyond the second page. At the time it seemed impossible that a story could ever get as long as a book as I’d put in everything into that tale and it must have stretched to... oh, all of 100 words.
I was a reader before I became a writer (not including “The Red Cherry”) and by a reader I mean I read and read and read! In primary school I ate up all of the school library and couldn’t wait to get to secondary school because it meant I could get a library card for the main library in town. It wasn’t until I rediscovered horror as a genre that I became a writer – I think up until that point I hadn’t found “it”; the passion, the focus on what to write. I read a lot of horror when I was about 10-13 (Robert Westall, the Pan Horror anthologies) but then veered off into science fiction and fantasy. It wasn’t until I read a Stephen King novel (The Dead Zone) that I realised I’d become snobbish about what I read and had made a huge assumption that horror was trashy and poorly written. Stephen King was a wake up call and I spent the next few months tracking down his backlist. Once that happened it just clicked for me and I started writing and haven’t really stopped since.
Morgen: I blame Stephen King for me wearing glasses (I devoured his books as a teenager… under the duvet with a torch!). So you generally write horror presumably, have you considered other genres?
Richard: I tend to write horror fiction but also write fantasy and a little bit of science fiction. I write in the genre that best fits the story but I think we all have a censor (or sensor?) which picks out the storylines that most interest us.
Morgen: censor and sensor I’d say with horror :)
Richard: I did think about write a crime novel, and I even looked at building a plot based on the idea of a “sympathetic serial killer” – and then someone told me about Dexter and I realised if you’re going to write in a genre you have a responsibility to know about the body of work within that genre – and in that case I clearly didn’t.
Morgen: I love Dexter. It’s the one programme on TV that I can’t miss. Debra Morgan (his sister) is so gutsy – I’d love to be more like her, although if I think I’d get into trouble if I spoke my mind quite as much as she did. :) I wouldn’t give up if you want to write the crime novel. I’m sure not every crime writer has direct experience (few possibly) – I don’t and want to write that genre – and that’s the joy of being a writer now, the internet will probably house most of what you need. Besides, you don’t have to have him as anything as technical as a blood splatter expert. What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Richard: I’ve had short stories published in a number of horror magazines. I once wrote a children’s short story for a competition run by a local radio station and it was shortlisted. I clearly remember listening in each day for it to be read out. I was at work at the time and got told off by some of the other staff in the office for disturbing them! I didn’t win the competition – much to my chagrin I was beaten into second place by a 5 year old (not my finest moment)…
Morgen: Ah, but there was someone with current relevant experience. :)
Richard: …but hearing my story read by a professional actor was one of those moments you treasure as a writer.
Morgen: Wow. The only person I’ve heard read my writing to an audience is me but still treasurable. :) How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Richard: I have a mailing list I send out when I have anything published – but that tends to be family and friends and a couple of contacts I’ve made within the industry. I also put postings on Facebook but at the same time I’m sensitive that I don’t want to be a one-man self-publicising machine that can come across as somewhat self-obsessed.
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s the quickest way to get de-friended / de-followed.
Richard: Perhaps the only thing I’ve done in terms of my “brand” has been to change the name I write under. My earlier stories were published under the name “Richard Barber”, which seems reasonable enough, but I was aware there were other authors out there with the same name, in particular there is a well-established academic writer who specialises in Arthurian England, and a few times editors have asked if this is me. After Googling different options I settled on “Richard Farren Barber” which takes in my wife’s surname. It allows me to differentiate myself on the web and, I think, helps to create a profile for me.
Morgen: And easy for someone to spell (and therefore Google) – there are a few Morgan Baileys (with an ‘a’) including a construction company, coffee company and transsexual porn star so some people have a fun time trying to find me. You talked about a competition you’d entered, have you entered any others (hopefully it didn’t scar you for life!) and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Richard: I’ve been shortlisted for a few local competitions – the radio competition I mentioned earlier and a couple of short story competitions run by evening newspapers. I can’t say that I’ve had anyone knocking down my door begging to publish my work as a result, but I like the challenge of having to meet the set criteria of a competition (word count, subject, opening lines etc) and I think it often pushes me to write something that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Obviously if I won the Man Booker prize I suspect I’d answer your question differently!
Morgen: Well there’s plenty of time although to my knowledge they haven’t been too favourable of horror novels. I loved themed competitions as it gets me writing something new and if it doesn’t come anywhere I still have it to do something else with. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Richard: I don’t have an agent (or an agent doesn’t have me? Let’s try to put a positive spin on this…).
Morgen: Absolutely. They’re lucky to have us. :)
Richard: It’s difficult to say at present. Agents seem like the Holy Grail for writers and there’s the expectation that once you have an Agent you’ve made it – although I know from a number of fellow writers’ experience that this is far from the truth.
Morgen: You could try John Jarrold. I’ve seen him a couple of times at a yearly writers conference I go to. He represents horror, sci-fi and fantasy and seem like a nice guy but fussy, as you would expect.
Richard: I can see the advantage of having an agent to get your work seen by people who might not otherwise look at it, and safeguarding time to actually write. It also seems to me that in a number of cases the “break” comes first and then the agent comes in on the back of that – ie you get an agent because you’ve had a book accepted. Who knows? Ask me again in a few years time!
Morgen: I might just do that. :) And yes, I’ve heard the same thing, and perhaps one reason why I’ve gone the eBook route although I do love having control too. :) Are your books available as eBooks?
Richard: I’ve had short stories published in anthologies that were available as ebooks such as Morpheus Tales’s Urban Horror Special and I’ve got a short story coming out soon in Epocalypse which I co-wrote with Stuart Hughes.
Morgen: Ah, Stuart – my interviewee no. 57. :)
Richard: Now here’s the part where I confess to being a Luddite when it comes to ebooks (which makes sense as I come from Nottingham! But less sense when you take into account my job in IT).
Morgen: I hadn’t associated Nottingham with luddites – you should try living in Northamptonshire (I’m not born and bred here, I hasn’t to add). So I take it you don’t read eBooks (nothing wrong with that, by the way, I have an eReader but rarely use it).
Richard: I love the smell of books, I love the feel of books. For me a Kindle is nice and shiny and I understand the *practical* reasons for having an ebook reader (I especially understand the reasons when I’m packing for holidays and feel the weight of my reading list weighing down on my shoulder) and I may be overly romantic about this, but ebooks are too cold and clinical for me. I can’t imagine going into a book store and browsing row upon row of ebooks, picking them up, reading the back… you know, all the things you do with *real* books.
Morgen: At this year’s writers conference it was suggested that bookshops sell memory sticks with eBooks on them and I’m surprised actually that no-one’s thought of that. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Richard: I might try and argue that my first acceptance was “the Red Cherry” which appeared on the wall of the classroom when I was eight, but that might be pushing it a bit. So my first real acceptance was a short story in a publication called “Scribble”. Having a story accepted is still a huge thrill and one of the benefits is you get at least two bites at the cherry – when you hear it’s been accepted and then when the publication comes out.
Morgen: That’s true – I’d not thought of it like that. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Richard: No. No rejections. (Peers up from the keyboard to see if anyone really believed that).
Morgen: Wow. You’re not the only one to say that but I have had some say that anyone who says that can’t be telling the truth… but then some people I’ve interviewed haven’t sent anything out so that helps. :)
Richard: I think you develop something of a tough skin to rejections or you allow them to cripple you and I can’t see anyone lasting too long like that. I suppose it depends on the nature of what you’ve had accepted. Not too long ago I had a professional read of a novel I’d been working on for about 18 months and when I got the feedback I was floored (and flawed). At the time I took a deep breath and started writing a new novel (I actually started writing two novels on the same day, but quickly realised that was being a touch reactionary) and it was only after I could let a few weeks pass that I was able to look at the feedback without the emotion and decide on what to do next.
Morgen: The best way to handle it. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Richard: Juggling. Doesn’t every writer? I’m editing a novel “Bloodie Bones” and to focus on that I’ve put the new novel I was writing on hold (Tentatively titled “The Lost”). In between that I’m writing and submitting short stories wherever I can and writing critiques for Critters and typing up a novel I wrote last year (“The Ancestors”). And reading. Lots of reading.
Morgen: Immersed in it all, just like me. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Richard: I write most days. I get up at 6.00 and write until 7.15. I know that if I didn’t do that I’d never get anything written. Then I write again during lunch at work and any other time I can “borrow” during the week. I bought a Smartphone recently and that’s been a godsend for capturing fragments of ideas as they arrive. Occasionally I can be found wondering around town a few paces behind my wife, typing away on my phone like a sullen teenager.
Morgen: I like that image. :) What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Richard: Thankfully I have never suffered from writer’s block. It seems to me to be such a terrible thing to have to deal with and I’d imagine that it’s the kind of thing that can become worse with anxiety – a real self-fulfilling prophecy.
Morgen: I don’t really either but I think working on several things, as you do / are, must help. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Richard: I tend to work around a basic idea. If I’m working on a novel I tend to plot out the next five chapters but beyond that things tend to taper away. There are times I really wish I was better at plotting, or more diligent at least. I love the idea that a story is organic and I think it was Stephen King who talked about “discovering” a story rather than writing it – the concept that the story already exists *somewhere* and the job of the writer is to extract it rather than to create it.
Morgen: That does sound very Stephen King.
Richard: The novel I’ve been working on (Bloodie Bones) has undergone a number of major revisions as it’s been redrafted and redrafted. Part of me thinks it would have been a lot less grief if I’d nailed the plot and sub-plots on the first draft, but I also think if I settled for the first draft and the first plotline I had it wouldn’t be as rich as it is – that “living” in the plot for so long and developing it has allowed me to bring more to it than I would have done sitting in a room with a blank sheet of paper.
Morgen: which we all know you can’t edit. :) Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Richard: I don’t have a method as such, my characters tend to evolve and come to life through the story as it unfolds. This can mean that when it comes to the re-write I have to spend some time making sure they remain true to how they’ve been realised. In terms of names... I often write my initial draft with N instead of the name of a character and then once the story is more fully realised I try and determine the name that feels right. For minor characters I often seek inspiration from whatever is around me – so names at the end of letters or notices on the pinboard near me. I support Nottingham Forest so sometimes the players’ names creep into the story – although I have to be careful that I don’t keep using the same forenames for everything I write.
Morgen: I’ve been hooked on the name Elliot recently and would have every character either with that as a first or surname if I had my way. :) Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Richard: I don’t really have a specific person who sees what I write before anyone else. Sometimes it can be people on Critters and sometimes it will be the editor to whom the work is submitted. At the risk of sounding cliché I suppose my first reader is me. I write the story because it needs to be written and I hope that if it’s interesting to me then other people will also find it interesting.
Morgen: Well, they do say that if you’re bored with a piece then the reader is likely to be too. If your editors are accepting your submissions then you must be doing something right. :) Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Richard: As time has gone on I’ve spent more and more time reworking what I write. My idea of a first draft is definitely to try and get the bones of the story down intact. Once that happens I leave the story to one side and try to come back to it fresh. Then it’s a matter of cutting and cutting and cutting. Usually the framework for the story doesn’t change too much after the first draft, although occasionally I do have to add or delete scenes. I think having everything electronically allows me to be braver than I would if I had everything in hard copy – that way I can kid myself that I haven’t deleted anything I’ve written, I’ve just put it aside for later, but it’s very rare I ever find myself rummaging around in that bin for something I’ve discarded.
Morgen: unless you want it for something else perhaps. What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Richard: Because I work full time I write “around” that. So the start of my creative process is usually spotting a gap where I can write! Whether that’s five minutes waiting in the car or an hour I steal away to carve out a story. Usually I start with an opening line and these often come to me fully formed. At this stage I have an idea of the outline of a plot but many of the details aren’t thought through and so I learn then as the story reveals itself in the first draft. I’ve tried to be a more methodical writer, plotting out scenes in advance but it just doesn’t work for me – I’m more of a “in the moment” type.
Morgen: Me too. I love seeing what comes out. Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Richard: I used to be adamant that I *had* to write everything out long hand. But the downside to this is that you then have to type everything up before you can work on it. As I’m always trying to steal as much time as I can for writing anyway it seemed madness to me to then spend a lot of that effectively re-writing without making changes. So last year I took a laptop away and forced myself to write five short stories straight onto disk. Since then I’ve written everything directly onto the computer. On the whole it works and it has had the desired effect of increasing my output significantly, but there are still times when I get stuck on a story and I put the computer aside and try and break through with a pen and a pad of paper.
Morgen: Apparently paper vs computer use different parts of the brain so if you get stuck with one format turning to the other wouldn’t be a bad thing. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Richard: I tend to write in third person but that can change depending upon the story I’m telling. I do like the intimacy and the immediacy of first person but then there’s a compromise you have to make in terms of the limitations of what that character can know and experience and how that impacts on the story you’re telling. Interestingly I was looking at a number of “commercial thrillers” recently and noticed the tendency for first person narratives. I’ve not written a novel in the first person as it seems difficult to tell the entire story from that viewpoint, but it may simply be that some genres are more suited to that viewpoint than others.
Morgen: Apparently a lot (too many, some agents have told me) of novels have been written in first person recently and it’s losing popularity (at least with said agents) so you’re probably better off sticking with third. I like first person (although second person is my favourite – definitely not liked by agents or editors!) but write in all three. Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Richard: I tend not to use prologues or epilogues. They’re common within horror fiction and I understand the need for them on occasions but they’re not something that really attract me. For me they can too easily lapse into cliché – the midnight burial taking place some years before the real action takes place, or the hand of the monster rising up through the water after the final scene, desperately grabbing for a last scare or the potential for a sequel.
Morgen: Again they’ve fallen out of favour (if they were ever ‘in’) so probably best sticking with chapters. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Richard: Loads! For different reasons as well. There are short stories and novels I’ve written which are so awful that nobody would ever kill a tree to bring them to life. I see those as part of the learning process that have brought me to where I am now so I don’t have any problems with them lying in their boxes up in the attic. There are other stories which I think *do* work but which don’t really fit a particular genre and so are difficult to find a home for.
Morgen: <whispering> eBook them…
Richard: I don’t know if this is just me, but I do find myself more attached to some stories than others, and often it’s the stories that I think are my strongest which become hardest to get into print, whilst stories I’m proud of, but have no particular emotional relationship with, that get taken up by a publisher at the first ask. I’m not quite sure what that says about me and what I should read into it.
Morgen: Nothing, I think. Things I’ve loved have fallen flat with my critique group and vice versa, but then if we all liked the same thing we’d only be writing one type of book and how glad am I that we’re not. I write all sorts so I feel for you with the ‘genre’ thing (which is why I’ve gone eBook). What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Richard: The favourite aspect of my writing life is the sense of creating something. Taking something from an idea or just a throwaway line and moulding it into a piece of writing. The least favourite aspect of my writing life is probably the constant need to juggle what I’m writing with… well, living, I suppose. It’s a constant compromise between what I can do in terms of writing and what I want to do. At any point in time I’ve got the outlines of about 5 novels in my head as well as numerous short stories, and the challenge is to get them down on paper. Only I know that as soon as I do there will be others that come along that are crying to be written.
Morgen: That’s the best way round to be (although it may not seen like it). You could always try writing a 1,000 word synopsis (then they’re ready for when the book’s done and you want to submit it) then at least it’s out of your head and there’s no chance of forgetting it. I came up with something I loved and could I remember it five minutes later, and it’s not as if I didn’t have a pen and paper with me (I always do). I just thought I’d not forget it because it was so great… won’t be doing that again. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Richard: I’m not sure if this counts as a surprise so much as a gradual realisation – that writing is addictive. I can’t imagine not writing, it just isn’t an option.
Morgen: That’s so lovely to hear. My mum said recently that I shouldn’t let writing take over my life but I didn’t like to tell her she was a few months too late. That said when I told her that I wanted to give up work (leaving Christmas Eve eve) to write full-time she was much more supportive than I’d expected, which is great! :) What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Richard: Ooh, how long have you got? Especially in the last couple of years I’ve had a number of “if only someone had told me...and I had listened” moments about my own writing.
Submit! I know this sounds really silly but a writer friend of mine looked at how I went about submitting my work and pointed out that while I’m holding it, rather than an editor, it’s never going to be published. After this I researched about 15 publications and focussed my attention on them rather than a scatter gun approach. I think it’s paid off in terms of seeing more stories published and creating relationships with “repeat offenders”.
Morgen: I’m dreadful at submitting but seeing as I’ll have no income from the New Year that will be changing (if not sooner :)). OK, first box ticked…
Richard: Write! I’ve attended courses and workshops on writing over the years but I think I’ve learned most about my craft from writing and rewriting. It may seem like a tough approach but I don’t think any amount of classroom hours can replace rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty by actually writing.
I joined a writing group a couple of years ago (Derby Scribes) and I think it’s important to get out there and talk about your writing with other people. Because writing is usually a solitary occupation it’s easy to become very insular – hiding away in a corner churning out thousands and thousands of words. Having a group of people who share the same passions as you and speak the same language is invaluable.
Morgen: Second box ticked. This is fun…
Richard: Get critiqued! Earlier in the year I had my current novel reviewed by a professional author. I was at the stage where I was thinking of going out to agents but I wanted an impartial view on whether the work was ready. After you spend a year or so working on something it can be difficult to get enough distance to make that judgement yourself. The experience was challenging but it was also an eye opener and it really brought home to me the importance of getting someone to look at your work, someone who understands what you’re trying to achieve and who you respect, and will tell you what they truly think. After that experience I realised I wasn’t getting enough critical appraisal of my work so I spent a little time researching online critique groups before joining Critters. I think critiquing and being critiqued is so important, it just galls me that it’s taken me so long to recognise the value of it.
Morgen: I have heard good things about Critters. Sadly I don’t write science-fiction, fantasy or horror… maybe I should start. :)
Richard: This one is aimed squarely at speculative fiction writers: go to the conventions! Fantasycon, Alt-Fiction.
Morgen: I know (via email) Alex who runs Alt-Fiction. He’s doing a talk in the spring for one of the writing groups I belong to and he keeps inviting me to Facebook events but it always clashes with work.
Richard: I went to the World Horror Convention last year and it was a fantastic experience for me both as a reader but also as a writer.
Morgen: Ah yes, I spotted that and included it in one of my writing group’s handouts – I love the picture on their current home page (http://www.fantasycon2011.org) – the lovely Brighton (or not so lovely in the picture – I love it). I would have gone just for the venue. :)
Richard: Someone pointed out to me that the writing community is a community – it’s about relationships and knowing what’s going on in the field and conventions are the perfect mechanism for doing that.
Morgen: They are. I love them (I’m easily pleased, aren’t I?). I volunteered (for a weekend) at a literature festival for the first time last year and loved it. I went to another for 5 days this March and that got me even more hooked in to writing than I already was. Ah, perhaps that’s when the aforementioned obsession started. :) All that info. was brilliant by the way, thank you Richard. What do you like to read?
Richard: I tend to read horror, which probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise. My main influences are Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell and Robert Westall. Outside of the genre I read a little crime fiction (Patricia Cornwell was fantastic as an author until she lost her way with computers and helicopters) and I try and read different genres. At the moment I’m reading “I’ll never get out of this world alive” by Steve Earle which is like a latter-day John Steinbeck, another author I love.
Morgen: I had heard that later Patricia Cornwell books weren’t so good, that’s a real shame. :( Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Richard: I suppose the two sites at which I’m a repeat offender are Duotrope and Critters. DuoTrope is a fantastic resource for finding out about markets and who is looking for work. And Critters is a great online critiquing community for genre writers.
Morgen: I’d heard of Duotrope a while back but never really investigated then heard more about it recently and so investigated and discovered what a gem of a site it is. Another similar is http://jbwb.co.uk.
Richard: As I mentioned, I had an epiphany a while back that I needed to get more feedback on my work and receiving critiques has been immensely useful – as has critiquing the work of others. Once you get the hang of it the ability to dissect a story and consider what works and what doesn’t is a great skill to have and Critters gives you the opportunity to develop it.
Morgen: I totally agree. I think anyone who thinks they can edit their own work is… I was going to say “mad” but that’s a little unfair… “short-sighted” perhaps. I’ve gone the eBook route but I wouldn’t have done it without Rachel, my editor. I met her at the literature festival last year and apart from finding my mistakes (fortunately not many) she’s come up with some wonderful suggestions. You’ve mentioned Derby Scribes so I guess you’re here in the UK, do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Richard: I’m based in the UK, yes. I think that helps; we have a strong independent press sector, especially in respect of the horror genre with magazines like Black Static and Morpheus Tales, and because the country’s relatively small it’s easy to get around so it’s easy to meet people within the industry on a regular basis.
Morgen: That’s a great way to look at it. I’d thought we were missing out not being somewhere like the US but to get round that would a lifetime. :) I’d heard of Dark Tales but not the two you mentioned; they definitely sound horror. :) Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Richard: I use Facebook on occasion but that’s about it for network sites. I find it moderately useful – it’s a great democratising tool in that I can be “friends” with a community of writers and I’m one message away from contact with a number of writers whose work I admire. That said I think it can be easy to get sucked in by the concept of networking at the expense of actual writing and I have seen some authors who seem to dedicate all their effort and time to developing and maintaining their online “platform” but don’t actually seem to be writing much fiction. So I think there can be a danger to Facebook / Twitter that it sucks away time from what you’re really trying to do: write!
Morgen: Er… yes. <guilty look on face> :) Where can we find out about you and your work?
Richard: I have a website which I try to keep updated and which has just gone through a major facelift: www.richardfarrenbarber.co.uk and on there is the ability to sign up to a newsletter I send out on a sporadic basis whenever there’s something that I need to shout about (usually an upcoming short story in a magazine or anthology) and there’s also my Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/richardfarrenbarber.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Richard: I don’t think I’m a pessimist by nature but I look at the way the music industry has been destroyed by the digital age and I fear the same may happen with writing. There are huge opportunities in the rise of ebooks and ipads etc but if the main opportunity is for people to get work for free that they would typically pay for then you do have to question what the business model for publishers and writers is going to be. I know it’s not possible to put the genie back into the bottle, and having writing available through a new medium will hopefully open it up to people who might not otherwise find it, but for me the next few years in writing / publishing are about trying to find the balance for readers and writers. I sincerely hope that in a hundred years time we don’t look back at the turn of the twenty-first century as the last generation of professional musicians and writers.
Morgen: I hope not either but I think from our end of the table there are far more opportunities to, as you say, contact our audience although I have noticed hard copy short story outlets dwindling which is a real shame. I guess we shall just keep writing, keep online contacts and watch this space. :) Thank you so much Richard.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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