Today I welcome author Brian Barr to my blog. His debut book, Carolina Daemonic, Book 1: Confederate Shadows was released earlier this year.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Brian Barr and I am an American author. My first novel, Carolina Daemonic, Book 1: Confederate Shadows, was published on August 14th of 2015. I co-created and co-write for a comic series called Empress with Chuck Amadori, alongside artist Marcelo Salaza and colorist Geraldo Filho. I’ve published a number of short stories in anthologies and magazines, namely NonBinary Review, New Realm Magazine, Dark Chapter Press’s Kill For a Copy, and Nebula Rift.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved telling stories, ever since I was a kid. It’s a part of my nature as a human being. I’ve always been creative, but writing is where I’ve been able to grow and develop with more drive than art or music. Even before I wrote stories, I use to share stories with friends and relatives, particularly ghost stories, growing up. I always liked the fantastical, and being scared.
Many authors inspire me to write, from novelists to comic writers, and I have a great deal of respect for all of them. Tad Williams, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Walter Jon Williams, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anthony Burgess, Jim Starlin, and Alan Moore are the ones that immediately come to mind.
Please tell us about your current releases.
Confederate Shadows is the first book of my Carolina Daemonic series, which was published by J. Ellington Ashton Press. JEAP has been a great publisher, featuring many of my short stories in their anthologies, so I’m happy to have my debut novel published by them as well. The novel is an urban fantasy-horror with occult, steampunk, and science-fiction elements. Carolina Daemonic takes place in an alternative timeline, where the Confederacy won the Civil War, later achieving manifest destiny in a similar fashion to the U.S. of our real timeline. The novel has multiple characters from various backgrounds, and portrays a dark world filled with political, sexual, and racial conflict. Carolina Daemonic also looks at corporations, cults, and various social issues, all under the thrill of terror and suspense in a macabre storyline.
The ongoing comic series, Empress, that I co-write with Chuck Amadori is a supernatural noir mystery, mixed with horror and dark fantasy. The comic revolves around Zia, a famous actress who was a star in the silent films of the 1920’s and found transitioning to the “talkies” (movies with sound) difficult when the 1930’s came around. She suddenly ends up missing and Zia’s movie company hires a private investigator to find her. As the private investigator searches for Zia’s whereabouts, the truth of what happened to the actress suddenly becomes stranger with each unraveling mystery.
For Empress, Chuck and I collaborate go back and forth, every four issues, as writers for the project. Chuck will write four issues, then I’ll write four. Every four issues also comprises an arc of the comic series. Chuck’s first written issue was the debut issue, and my first issue was #5. Currently, we’re working on the sixth issue, and we have many scripts already written and waiting in line. Marcelo Salaza’s art is brilliant and he really brings our work to life. Matheus Broncas did colors for the first four issues and they were amazing. Geraldo Filho does colors now, which also blow me away. I’m thankful to work with these guys who really love comics and really care about making a story great.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
Yes. The two main novel projects I have are Carolina Daemonic, Book II: Rebel Hell, and Serpent King: Smoke, Fire, and Ash. Rebel Hell is an intense continuation of the Carolina Daemonic series, with war and destruction abound. Serpent King: Smoke, Fire, and Ash is a dark science-fantasy featuring Zian Ur the Serpent King, a character I created years ago when I first got back into writing. I plan to finish Serpent King by the end of the year, and I want to put out at least one novel in between all of my Carolina Daemonic books, in order to stay diverse as a writer.
In Carolina Daemonic and Empress, which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
In Carolina Daemonic, my favorite character so far is Zevulon Khodorov. Zevulon is a Russian-Jewish American from Charleston, South Carolina, and a Kabbalist. I loved the research that went into making him a believable Jewish mystic and magician in a fantastical setting. I like his personality, which is quite calm and relaxed for someone facing heavy conflict. Zev was hired by the Union, along with other magicians, to fight against black-magic sorcerers hired by the Confederacy, only to suffer once the Union lost the war. Now, he has to do everything in his power to correct the wrongs that have been done, and the disasters awaiting Earth over a century later.
Empress has many characters as an ongoing comic series, but my favorite so far is Krummi. Krummi is a lesbian shieldmaiden, a female Viking from Scandinavia, possibly over a millennium ago. She’s honest, strong and confident. Although she’s only appeared in one issue so far, I liked her character so much that I wrote some short stories based around her character. One of the stories, Krummi in Helheim, is slated to come out in Mantid Magazine’s debut issue.
I can’t really say I dislike any of my characters, though I dislike much of what they do and what they represent. All of my characters, from the most genuine to the most disturbed, have flaws. There are characters I feel sorry for, like the cult leaders and racist characters in Carolina Daemonic. They represent a lot of what I feel is destructive to the world, a lot of human pain and hatred that merely keeps humanity from growing and helping each other.
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
Zevulon Khodorov in Carolina Daemonic, because he’s a skilled magician with a heart of gold.
Did you base any of your characters on real people?
Empress’s main character, Zia, was inspired by Emelia Earhart, the aircraft pilot who when missing when she tried to fly across the Atlantic in the ‘20s. Her disappearance captured my imagination since I was a kid, and I always wondered what happened to her.
I have a fictional inventor in my Carolina Daemonic series who is based on Nikola Tesla. Whether he becomes a major character in the series or not, I don’t know, but he’s mentioned briefly in the first book.
Did Carolina Daemonic’s first book turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
When I started Carolina Daemonic, I was curious about writing steampunk. I was reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, a great book, and researching steampunk at the time, so I wanted to have fun in that genre. I ended up writing a mixed genre book, and steampunk became a minor element to Confederate Shadows. I believe the occult horror stands out the most with Carolina Daemonic, along with the urban fantasy.
What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
I have a genuine love for the craft of writing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved storytelling, and as soon as I learned to write and read, I was ready to put my own stories on paper. That love continues to drive me to this day.
Do you have an all-time favorite book?
Otherland by Tad Williams is currently my favorite book series of all time. All four volumes read like one huge book, and together, they are all the best to me.
What books are you reading right now?
I’m reading The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin, and nearly done with the third Fire and Ice book from George R.R. Martin. Love Game of Thrones.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
I would only embarrass myself, but probably Tad Williams and Clive Barker. Alan Moore if I was lucky enough to meet a third. I like all of them equally.
It’s 2020. The South won the Civil War and achieved manifest destiny in the United States. Great Britain, known as Victoria, and China, have maintained their empires. American slavery was abolished in the late 20th century instead of the late 19th century. Steam powered machinery and electricity make up the bulk of modern technology.
In the shadows of the Confederacy, there is magic. Esoteric sciences arcane and archaic survive from forgotten times, and strange demonic creatures wander through the slums of Charleston…
Enter Carolina Daemonic. In an alternative timeline, see a dark world not too far removed from our own- religio-political cults, racism, sexism, homophobia, corporate takeovers and corruption are abound. Witness the strange and mysterious beyond the familiarity of our ordinary world as well- godly avatars, lustful demons, necromancers, and the undead.
About the Author
Brian Barr is a speculative fiction writer who enjoys writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories that are imaginative, macabre, fantastical and strange. Along with novels and short stories, he has written comic books, including the Empress series with Chuck Amadori. His debut novel, Carolina Daemonic Book I: Confederate Shadows, was released this year. He has also published books under the name Aghori Shaivite. Brian is a member of the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop.
You can find out more about Brian on his website.
Carolina Daemonic can be purchased on Amazon.