Richard Farren Barber was born in Nottingham in July 1970. After studying in London he returned to the East Midlands. He lives with his wife and son and works as a Development Services Manager for a local university.
He has had stories published in Alt-Dead, Alt Zombie, Blood Oranges, The British Fantasy Society Journal, ePocalypse - Tales from the End, The Horror Zine, Murky Depths, Midnight Echo, Midnight Street, Morpheus Tales, MT Urban Horror Special, Night Terrors II, The House of Horror, Trembles, Terror Scribes and broadcast on BBC Radio Derby and Erewash Sound.
During 2010/11 Richard was sponsored by Writing East Midlands to undertake a mentoring scheme in which he was supported in the development of his novel Bloodie Bones, which he is now shamelessly hawking amongst agents and publishers.
His website is www.richardfarrenbarber.co.uk
My lawyers have advised me to say that “I came across a pirated version of a novel by a well respected writer in the horror genre” the other day. Actually... It was Stephen King’s “The Shining” and a friend sent it to me as I wanted to re-read it before starting on “Dr Sleep”. For practical reasons I wanted to read it on my Kindle, but didn’t want to pay for it again as I already have two copies sitting on my bookcase.
Maybe I’m naive, but I’ve never actually read a pirated book before, but as I started reading about Danny Torrance and Grady and the rest of the cast over in the Overlook it occurred to me that there are two ways in which pirated books are evil incarnate.
The first is obvious. If you’re reading a pirated book you can be damned sure that the author is not going to see a penny for his/her work. It’s difficult to frame the argument in terms of theft and I’ve never had much connection with those “adverts” at the beginning of films where they have all the “piracy is theft” because, and let’s get pedantic about it, it isn’t theft. Theft is to take someone else’s property without the intention of returning it. But in piracy you’re copying, not taking. My dodgy copy of “The Shining” hasn’t deprived one other person of their copy. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay, it just means we don’t have the language to explain why it’s wrong. But piracy is evil because if we don’t have a system where people can be paid for their creative works then we will regress to a society where art is for amateurs and the idle-rich. Is that what we want?
The first evil is well known and discussed and either considered or ignored, but it’s out there. But re-reading “The Shining” I discovered a second evil, one that everyone who reads should be afraid of.
Pirate books – they’re crap.
I hadn’t appreciated this. I made the assumption that because they’re digital, and we live in an age where technology means a digital copy is a perfect replica of the original, that pirate books were basically “published” books. But they’re not. At least not the copy that I have. It is full of typos and formatting errors. I assume this means that someone has taken the original copy and scanned it to create a digital version, and then not bothered to proof it.
And here’s why that is a sin. You only get once chance to read a book for the first time. I know “The Shining” is a great book – but on the basis of what I’m reading at the moment that would have been ruined for me. For me, reading is a magic trick: you’re awake but you are convincing your mind to take you out of your reality. When it works, when you have a great book, it’s incredible. But typos and poorly formatted text pull you out of the world as you try and figure out what should be on the page, and that makes for a terrible reading experience. One typo in a book is hard to accept. One every two or three pages makes the novel almost unreadable.
My friend also sent me a copy of George RR Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” which is another book I have sitting in physical form on my bookcase, but which I thought would be more accessible through an ebook. I haven’t read “A Game of Thrones” before, and I know now that my first experience isn’t going to be through a dodgy pirate ebook.
“The Power of Nothing” is available on Kindle at amazon.co.uk for £2.97, amazon.com for $4.64. For other formats you can get the novella direct from the publishers at DamnationBooks.com.
He is watching you.
Steve Granger immediately realizes there is something wrong about the grey man. When he starts to follow him, Steve knows he is right.
When Steve cannot get rid of the grey man, he erupts. Walking across the park one night he turns on the grey man and kills him. The next morning, as Steve leaves his flat to get rid of his blood-splattered clothes, he walks out to discover the grey man standing on his doorstep. Steve learns that killing the man a second time is easier.
Still the man comes back.