Interview: S.C. Barrus

As part of my week away from the internet, I am interviewing a couple authors. Today, it’s fellow Washingtonian S.C. Barrus. He has a Kickstarter going now for his Steampunk adventure novel. I’ll save you some reading time and tell you to go back it now. Also, if you are in the Seattle area, I will be doing a reading with him at the Pioneer Cafe in North Bend, WA. Deets HERE.

On to the interview:

First off, give us a quick synopsis of your book:

Discovering Aberration takes place in the era of budding steam technology. We follow Freddy Fitzgerald, an adventurer/travel writer/Professor of literature, and Thaddeus Lumpen, archaeologist and failed inventor. After they come into possession of a map of an ancient lost civilization, they set out on an expedition to discover what they can.
Trouble is, they aren’t the only ones interested in making this discovery as they find themselves up against a small army of violent archaeologists, notorious gangsters, manipulative scarlets, and maniac scuttlers.
But when they arrive at the island, the situation is worse than they expected. The island has its own secrets which begin to drive each member of the expedition to the brink of insanity.

Fiction is one of the tougher nuts to crack on Kickstarter- what sets your work apart?

Go, back it now. I said so.

Go, back it now. I said so.

Fiction is a though nut to crack not only on Kickstarter, but just about everywhere else. I think there are a few things that set my project apart from the average Kickstarter novel, but I’ll share one.

The novel itself is a great read. It takes your favorite elements from many genre’s and distills them into an exhilarating reading experience that you will want to share with your friends.
Of course anybody can say that, and they may have written a masterpiece, but they tend to ask you to invest in blind faith, sharing little more than a sample chapter. On the other hand, I offer my novel free to read on Wattpad, so you can see for yourself whether its something you want to stand behind before you invest. (you can find it here)
This is a bit of a risky move because readers might think, “I’m reading it here, why do I need to invest?” I’m of the mindset that most readers want to support the work they enjoy, and this will be their opportunity to do just that. They’ll also get the cleaned up, edited and fully designed version of the book and other goodies for their investment.

If this book had a soundtrack, what would three tracks off it be?

Hmm, that’s a toughy. Maybe”Rhapsody in Blue” when the city is introduced, “The Island” by The Deceberists when they arrive at the island, and throughout some of the more crazy scenes, and the album “Von” by Sigur Ros.
Name three books and three authors that influenced you the most:
I could list inspiration all day, but I’ll boil it down to thee who’s work mixed together might equate something like Discovering Aberration.
First would be a combination of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson (cheating already, I know) . Around the World in 80 Days heavily inspired the writing style and some of the humor, while Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde together really inspired the tone.
Number two would be The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This was an intense book where the survival of the main characters felt like it depended on you reading the novel. It’s a feeling I try to capture in the later chapters.
And three would be the Korean film, The Good, The Bad, The Weird (cheating again…) which is a stylized remake of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I love pacing especially, but everything about that movie is great. For Discovering Aberration, I was trying to capture a quality action movie’s sense of pacing.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
My greatest teacher I ever had was author David Shields who teaches at the University of Washington. I don’t know if I could boil down a single piece of advice he gave, but I learned so much from him that I couldn’t learn anywhere else.
It’s funny because back then he hated fiction. Non-sequential creative non-fiction was what he touted as the future of literature, so he really got me to think outside the normal ways of telling a story.
If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
scbarrusvintageWhen I was young, I thought I could write a masterpiece, get it published, and simply become an author.
I learned that masterpieces cannot just be written, they are crafted not by themselves, but over the course of multiple novels where you build all the skills and talents you need to craft that master work.
I also learned that publishing is not a straight forward process, nor is it the end game. It’s just another step along the way, albeit a complicated one.
I wouldn’t tell myself either of those things though, because I needed to learn them as part of the process. Maybe I would have told myself, “When you feel low, when you feel down and depressed, when you think your work is no good and your drinking and your mouse is hovering over the delete key, know that those are the worst of times, and those times pass if you let them. Don’t delete, create.”
Write about anything at all for two minutes:
I’ll use this opportunity to invite your readers to stop by my kickstarter and contribute to both a piece of literature and a dream of mine. Stop by, take a look at the novel and see if it’s something you can get behind. I’m looking forward to talking to everyone who is gracious enough to support my work. Cheers.

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