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.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I am a child of the seventies so there are too many photos of me in existence in which I am wearing brown corduroy trousers and orange shirts. I was born and raised in Nottingham and live halfway between Nottingham and Derby. I’m married and have a teenage son and work at a University. For my sins I support Nottingham Forest... which might explain why I find writing horror so attractive.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror. Always horror. It seems to me that we shy away from the term because we’re afraid people will have expectations when they pick up a book with the category of horror on the back cover. And well they should!
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Within the genre it would have to be Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell and Robert Westall. Westall and then King are the reasons I read (and write) horror, and Campbell... Well what can you say – the man is a genius!
Outside of the horror genre I adore John Steinbeck. He combines perfect prose with a social conscience.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently re-reading “The Shining” to give me a good run up to “Dr Sleep” – and I suspect that this is true for quite a few folk in the horror reading community. Might to-be-read pile is... well, it’s actually a bookcase and a Kindle.
How would you describe your writing style?
I aspire to a mix of Ramsey Campbell and John Steinbeck. I love the simplicity of Steinbeck’s style, the way his writing is perfectly clear, and I then love the way Ramsey Campbell can take an everyday scene or item and twist it so, so slightly to reveal the underlying terror.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I work full time so I get up at six and write for an hour before my family gets up. I get dressed, make the first of very many cups of tea, and spend the next sixty minutes pushing the cat away from the keyboard. I do have a special “writing mug” which I always use (I got it from my son for father’s day a few years ago and it’s got “Super dad” on the side) but I don’t have any particularly arcane “three turns widdershins” type habits to which I can confess (Sorry!)
I used to write longhand and then type up, but about three years ago I forced myself to write directly to a laptop (I hid in a kitchen for a day while on holiday in Northern Ireland) and so now I type stories directly onto disc and then revise longhand.
When possible I try to squeeze another 30 minutes writing at lunch time, and then I always have an eye open to the opportunity to grab any more time that I can. I think the key to write is to make time to write, rather than expecting to find time.
I have a notes app on my phone so I use that to record ideas and fragments of sentences that occur to me. It means I can almost enjoying standing in a queue as those 5 minutes can be productive bursts.
What’s your favourite food?
Mexican. I love “Wahaca” and it’s a regular destination if I’m down in London.
What’s your favourite album?
“Living with the Law” by Chris Whitley. He went a bit heavy rawk after this one and only gradually found his way back to the blues-country of his debut before his tragic death. “Living with the Law” is one of those albums that immediately turns you into an evangelist, I just think everyone should listen to it. I have to ration myself as to how often I listen to it so that I don’t grow tired of it, otherwise it would be on permanently.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Write and edit. Both are essential. If you don’t write, you can’t be a writer (end of, as the kids might say!). and if you don’t edit, you can’t be a good writer.
Fame and fortune, or respect?
I assume both isn’t an option?
I know it’s twee, but I don’t write for the cheques (stop laughing at the back there...). If it was about money I would earn way, way, more burning burgers at McDonalds. So with that in mind I’d have to say respect. My ideal would be to have readers who feel as passionately about what I write as I do about other authors’ work.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
That’s a tough question because it changes. I had a short story published last year in Hersham Horror’s “Siblings” anthology which has done well for me because it appeared on the Horror Writers’ Association recommended reading list for 2012 and also garnered an Honourable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s “best horror of the year” – both firsts for me. So I have a particular soft spot for that story. And I would also say my novella “The Power of Nothing” which is the longest piece I’ve seen in print to date.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
The Power of Nothing is a novella published by Damnation Books (available in a good bookshop near you... well, actually not because there aren’t many more bookshops and the chain stores tend not to bend over backwards to support indie-press, but I’ll hop off that soap box before I start).
Steve Granger works in a local shop and helps out at a youth centre. A grey man starts to follow Steve. The man does not speak, even when challenged. He just follows Steve. Getting closer and closer. Nothing Steve does makes any difference. The grey man is always there. Until Steve snaps and in frustration beats the man to death. And then the next day the man returns.
At the moment I’m juggling a number of projects. I’m just finishing the first draft of a novel which I hope is part of the movement to reclaim vampires back to the dark side where they belong. (No smooching, no twinkle, just blood) and then I’m working on the edit of a novel which aims to give a different spin to the traditional ghost story. In between those I’ve got any number of short stories and a couple of novellas on the go. Enough to keep me out of trouble, anyway.
THE POWER OF NOTHING
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.