If you’re not into writing or reading as an active hobby or obsession (stop looking at me like that), flash fiction may be new to you.
It’s a novel concept, one that I expect should have more of a following in the culture of “I didn’t read the article but I read the headline and the first few paragraphs.”
Which is about how much a flash fiction is, little more than a few paragraphs. 500 words: approximately a page and a half of a book. Yet, authors of flash fiction have managed to create worlds and stories in these 500 words that will bring you to tears, or make you snort water (or lattes) out of your nose when you’re supposed to be paying attention in your budget meeting.
And as long as we’re on the subject of lattes, Creativity Brewing (which I reviewed last week) is a great example of what can be done with flash fiction in a variety of genres, subjects, and tones. Kevin Barrick put together an anthology that is as diverse as it is succinct, and I was honored to ‘sit’ down with him to talk more about his history and his future.
Barrick may have cut his teeth on flash fiction, but as I found out in my interview, there’s more to come from this indie author in the near future.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a first time indie author, but I’ve been writing for most of my life. I remember writing fanfiction at first when I was about 8, but that eventually turned into me wanting to write my own story with my own characters. I ventured into a YA novel that has inspired me in my current creative endeavors.
I live in Ethiopia where I am embracing the culture and loving the world. After my time here, I want to travel the world. I even have aspirations to write a collection of flash fiction set in each country I visit!
My favorite thing to do when I’m not writing is to go to the lake and swim for a few hours. At home, I love to cook and experiment with budget cooking and replacement cooking (e.g. don’t have butter? Use oil!). One of my favorite things to cook is pasta, and I enjoy making my own noodles on occasion.
You said that venturing into a YA novel inspired you. Are there specific YA books you think of fondly, or that heavily influenced your writing (either current or past)?
I read a lot growing up, so to say something in particular influences me is something hard to do. I do remember a trilogy that inspired the real world turned fantastical as well as another that dealt with post-apocalyptic survival that loosely relates to the novel I’ve been writing. But I remember more the way I felt reading them than their titles or authors. And I guess at the end of the day that’s the inspiration I draw from: a desire to inspire rather than to become famous. Though that certainly wouldn’t hurt.
What is your favorite novel, and has it inspired how you write? How?
I don’t have a favorite novel, per se, but I do have a few favorite trilogies/series. One of my favorites that have spanned the ages is the unique collection of work by Ted Dekker. He has written a series that is divided into a couple of trilogies. This has inspired my upcoming novella series, where I will apply the same idea by having a trilogy of trilogies sort of series. I am excited to learn from him and see where I can go with it!
Tell us about your short story anthology, Creativity Brewing.
Creativity Brewing is a collection of flash fiction that explores human nature. I explore several situations where humanity is at the forefront as the character tries to figure out what it means to be human and what it means to truly live. Some stories are more like fables where they explore human nature in a more mythical way. Others are stories of adventure, romance, or fantasy that venture into heroism, fear, sorrow, joy, and other emotions.
I decided to write this anthology after a few months of working on my blog where I post other flash fiction. I have always wanted to embark upon the writing journey, but had never really had an opportunity to do so. After some deliberation, this anthology took form and I sent it off into the world.
You say you have a blog. What kind of things can readers expect to see on your blog in the future, and where can they find it?
My blog can be found at www.creativitybrewing.blogspot.com. I have written several flash fiction that runs along a similar vein of my book, but I’m currently working on a new series of retelling popular mythologies. I’m still working on getting my mind to wrap around the myths themselves before putting my version of them down on paper, but that is something to expect in the coming months.
What are some key takeaways you’re hoping readers get from your books?
I want readers to be able to stop and appreciate their humanity and the humanity of other people. I particularly brought this idea into my story “A Fruit-Eating Hyena,” a tale of a strange and different hyena who struggles to fit in. I think this is a rather applicable fable that helps us to see the different people in our lives and compel us to view them as humans and never anything less.
Another thing I want my readers to get from my stories is the beauty of simple things. In each of these 500-word tales, I bring out the excitement, wonder, and beauty of the world we live in and the humanity we embrace. I want my readers to explore their own lives and find the simple, small things that make them excited or brings out their humanity. Whether that is a walk in the park, a cup of coffee, or a comedy movie.
What is different about your book?
The thing that is different about my book, and the books that are in the workshop, is that I express the darkness of humanity with a juxtaposition of the greatness we all have. I don’t write just dark and grim stories, but I take the dark colors we see in our lives and weave it into a tapestry that accentuates that darkness to present the masterpiece that is called life and humanity.
Are there experiences in your life, or that you’ve heard, that influenced how you see the world, and does that come through in your writing?
I believe everyone’s experiences, friendships, and upbringing influences the way they see the world. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go abroad when I was younger that inspired a passion for travel. Through my experiences, some specific and some vague, I’ve been able to see many sides to the same story. Very rarely is an incident an isolated unfolding of events, but rather a network of a lifetime of experiences that lead to the particulars of the incident. Change one variable, and the entire understanding could change of the incident. Life is complex.
This comes out in my writing (particularly my longer works) where the complexity of life fashions the narrative of my story. One character who is deemed the hero could easily be defined as a villain if observed through a different set of lenses, and vice versa. In my longer work, I don’t have villains, I have people who are doing what they find to be right, even if they don’t fall in line with the “public opinion.” No one is evil for the sake of being evil, but because the events of their life have fashioned them and influenced their decisions.
What are your plans for future books?
I have a few plans. One is a sci-fi short story that should be released later this year. I can’t say too much about it, except ROBOTS.
My next project is the first novella in a series called “The Vial of Deziar.” It should be released this summer and is currently in the editing phase. It’s a story of dark secrets, gods and demons, and young passionate rebellion.
I’m excited about both of these and can’t wait for all of you to read it! Stay tuned.
What inspires you to write?
Life inspires me. When I experience fear, I put that into writing. When I see the effects of addiction, I weave that into a tale. When I hear the whispers of the heart, I shape it into a story of passion.
What do you enjoy about publishing, and what do you struggle with?
I enjoy the autonomy of it all. I like being in control and deciding what content I write and what marketing tools I use.
I struggle with the fact I can’t gauge the success of my story until after I start and go through the journey. Through traditional publishing, one would send in a query and then receive an immediate rank of success (acceptance or rejection).
But it’s a joy to write and that’s what inspires me to write also: the act of storytelling and seeing people read and enjoy it.
What has been your greatest struggle in the writing process, and how would you inspire other writers to overcome it?
So far the great struggle, or conundrum, is deciding how much I am willing to spend on a first book in light of proofreading and editing. Recently, I’ve been bombarded by hundreds of opinions on the matter. In the end, I think I will make my own path. However, my advice on the matter is this: YOU NEED A CONTENT EDITOR–even if you decide not to get one. By that, I mean, write and self-edit your book with the mentality that you will be sending it off to be edited for $500 or even $1,000. If you don’t have an endless supply of money, then you will automatically want your work to be as perfect as it can be so that when they edit it, there won’t be a plethora of edits that you could have done yourself.
In tandem with that, accept the fact that your first work isn’t going to be perfect. So if you cannot afford an editor, that’s fine. Find beta readers, use free or cheap resources, self-edit, read it a billion times. Eventually, when money allows, you should get one for your future work, but writing is a journey.. You discover your voice after you write for a while. So it might be better to invest in a future version of yourself as a writer as opposed to the beginner version of yourself.
Publish your best work, and do everything you can to ensure it is your best, but have an understanding that your best today isn’t going to be your best 5 years from now. And that’s how it should be! Write, edit, write, edit, write, edit, publish.
Do you ever plan on pursuing traditionally publishing, or would you rather stick with self-publishing?
I have a book series/trilogy that I am working on that I would like to at least query to be traditionally published. Primarily for the sake of it being handled with more experienced and professional hands as well as being introduced to an already established platform.
For the time being, I’ll stick with self-publishing. I have plans for a novella series as well as a few more flash fiction anthologies, all of which will be self-published.
How can we purchase your books?