Winterview with Author Ian Barnes

To celebrate 13 weeks of winter, Hàlön Chronicles will be conducting one interview a week for 13 weeks. Join us on the hashtag #13Winterviews, or check out our right-side blog hop to sneak a peek at all the wonderful authors and artists I’ll be interviewing in the coming weeks.

Hosted by: K. J. Harrowick

Without further ado, Science Fiction & Fantasy Author: Ian Barnes.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Fought things in dungeons with far too many eyes, shouted dragons out of the sky, saw time go wibbly-wobbly, and averted more ends of the world than I can count. Which is all a roundabout way of saying that I grew up on a steady diet of SFF books and shows, and indulged in unhealthy levels of gaming. Still do, truth be told, and wouldn’t change a thing.

If you want “real” details, I’m a Boston transplant by way of Maryland, because winter is by far the superior season and summer heat should be locked away in a box. Preferably at the bottom of the sea. Far, far away. Moving on! I studied computer engineering because it felt like the Thing To Do™ (plus, hey, gamer), then creative writing because storytelling is what I love. Guess which stuck?

There’s more—because there’s always more—but it’s all boring, so why bother? On to the fun stuff!

What types of books do you write, and why?

Science-fiction and fantasy. Always and forever. My father read Lord of the Rings to me at night when I was five, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The real world is boring, and everything becomes vastly more interesting when you stick a sword, mage’s staff, or blaster pistol in its metaphorical hand.

My own writing leans more towards the fantasy end of the SFF spectrum, but I love it all. The pulpier the better. I want my writing to be fun. I want to write stories that make people laugh, wrap them up in the action and let them escape the daily grind for a few minutes or hours or days. Assuming said reader likes overwhelming sarcasm. If not, I’ve got nothing.

What were your early influences, and how does this manifest in your work today?

Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara is the first book I can remember picking up and really reading on my own. I’m sure there were others, but that was the first to really leave a mark. His Word & Void trilogy remains a personal favorite to this day, and was my first real introduction to urban fantasy. Later, I discovered Jim Butcher and The Dresden Files, and it all went downhill from there.

Brooks and Butcher (particularly the latter) remain a foundation for what I think makes an excellent fantasy story, but there are more influences in recent years than I can count. I aspire to the world-building of Brandon Sanderson, the simile and give-no-shits sarcasm of Chuck Wendig, and the lyrical prose of Victoria Schwab, to name but a few. Everything influences everything.

Are there aspects of the craft that excite you more than others?

First drafts. Hands down. I’m a pantser/discovery writer/whatever you want to call it. Telling myself the story, exploring the twists and turns as I find out where the characters and plot take me, that’s what really excites me about writing. Drafting bores me to death and kills the magic, so I skip it. Sure, I have a barebones skeleton of beginning, middle, and end points when I start, but finding out how to get from point A to B to Q is the best part.

What books or websites are your go-to places while editing?

Google and are the big two. The Emotion Thesaurus is handy, but those first two are my go-to’s when I need to figure something out or swap out a crutch word.

Tell us about your writing space (music/snacks/interruptions/etc).

Cushy office chair at my desk. Monitor half-filled with the document, the rest occupied by tacked up .txt files filled with snippets of dialogue, description, scene notes, etc. I can’t write in silence, so there’s always some loud music blasting away. Helps me focus, as odd as that is. I also have a tendency to wander around and talk to myself when I’m working through scenes, much to my wife’s amusement.

Oh, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. And whiskey.

Tell us about your current WIP or your latest book release.

The project I’m querying is a strange little cyberpunk, urban fantasy mashup. Political machinations and cyberpunk shenanigans in a near-future Boston that survived one magical apocalypse, with a second waiting in the wings. A small-time hacker—the person least suited to be the big damn hero—botches a job and winds up accidentally kidnapping a goddess, kickstarting a civil war. Hacking, sarcasm, and sorcery!

My current WIP is a slightly more traditional high fantasy. To save his people from a plague, an aging assassin must kidnap a god. Sort of a steampunk science versus divinity setting I’ve been pitching in my head as Dishonored meets Mistborn. That, and I wanted to try writing an older protagonist, because why do only young punks get to save the world?

Ian’s work was showcased in #PitchWars 2016, and his book is amazing. Be sure to stalk follow him on Twitter at @imbarnes.

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out all the amazing Winterviews Authors. 🙂

4 comments to Winterview with Author Ian Barnes

  • J barnes  says:

    So enjoyed getting filled in on some of the ruminations going on in there! Look forward to actually reading about some of the older protagonists!

    • K.J. Harrowick  says:

      Ian’s stuff is amazing!

  • Maria Guglielmo  says:

    Wow, a writer after my own heart! Right down to Butcher and VE Schwab.


    • K.J. Harrowick  says:

      You’d definitely love his humor and voice. 😛

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