S.C. Barrus is a fellow Seattle-area author. His current project is called “Discovering Aberration,” which you can find out much more about on Kickstarter. S.C. hopes to raise money to fund the editing and associated publication costs via crowdfunding.
Recently, S.C. invited me to a reading he’d set up in a small town in Western Washington. He, myself and Dean Smith-Richard all read from our works, and lots of friends and family showed up to support. It was a great experience, one I hope to repeat.
I’ve invited S.C. here today to talk about “Discovering Aberration,” the experience of running a Kickstarter, and what it means to be an author.
Welcome to the blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing career.
My name is S.C. Barrus, and I write strange and thrilling literary adventures. Over the last few years I’ve written and published short stories, essays and poems both online and in print, but now I’m taking the next major step forward in my writing career with my debut novel, Discovering Aberration.
Your most recent project is Discovering Abberation, and you’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the project. How’s your experience been with Kickstarter so far?
Kickstarter is a very cool concept, and if you can utilize it properly it can put the power that comes with having the resources of a publishing company behind an independant author like me.
When you run a Kickstarter, you set a funding goal, in my case $3700 to fund editing, design, and various other publishing expenses. lf you can reach that goal, you are awarded the funding and can follow through with your project.
Kickstarter is also great for people who want to support the arts or the next big product because it allows them to help in a very real and effective way. In return, they receive rewards for their support, in my projects case early copies of the novel, as well as cool extra’s like posters, bookmarks, and even getting a character named after them.
Running a kickstarter project is a lot of work and a lot of uncertainty, which can be nerve wracking, but if it all comes together, it can be a very sweet thing.
You’ve provided the first thirty-three chapters of Discovering Abberation on Wattpad. I had the pleasure of reading the first eight so far, and I’m looking forward to reading more soon. What’s your opinion on the new world of epublishing colliding with old concepts like “first print rights?”
Things like first print rights only work when they are in the publishers best interest. It’s funny to see how quick publishers are to throw those rights out the door when they find moderately successful indie writers.
ePublishing is great because it can really empower writers to take their careers by their own hands. Trouble is, it’s murky waters out there. When you don’t know what you’re doing, ePublishing can get overwhelming very quickly. That’s probably why so many people do the bare minimum by simply throwing their work out there without any polish.
ePublishing is also a lot of work because essentially the writer must become the not only a writer, but a publisher, business person, marketer, and quality control agent. It’s a lot of hats to wear, and wearing each one well takes its own set of skills.
But even with all that, ePublishing can be a breath of fresh air for people like me who value control and independence. What’s more, even though you might be working on your novel alone, there are communitites of thousands of passionate indie writers out there who are happy to share their knowledge and support, so you’re never really alone.
I’m especially fasincated by the characters you’ve drawn in the portion I’ve read of Discovering Abberation. It seems to me that you’ve researched this Victorian era very well. That mood is coming through very clearly. Was there inspiration for any particular characters?
There was inspiration galore for these characters! The two main characters, Freddy and Lumpen were inspired by conversations between my cousin and I when we used to work together at Round Table Pizza. My wife says that Freddy is just a slightly exaggerated version of me. There’s also a hefty influence coming from Verne’s Phileas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days.
Also, I love how the story seems to be both in our world and simultaneously not. What kind of research did you do for the book? Were you inspired by works that blend myth with historical fact?
Most of the research I did for Discovering Aberration was reading novels from that period. I binged on Jules Verne in particular, but also read a heavy helping of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift, and many more.
I also spent a while studying the language of the day. Not only unusual slang like “bellows to mend” (out of breath) or “lay down the knife and fork” (to die), but also the way in which writers of that time structured their sentences. In effect, this makes the setting feel authentic simply through the language used.
Finally, I studied the gangs of the victorian era, especially the teenage gangs called Scuttlers. I wanted the novel to feature a living, breathing criminal underworld which can work as the foundation of the sequel.
Who are you favorite authors? How have they influenced your writing?
I have a wide range of authors I love and I don’t know if I could choose one as a favorite. Verne, Stevenson and Swift were huge influences, as was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Writers like John Steinbeck, Hermann Hess, Chuck Palahniuk, and Jonathan Safran Foer really inspired me to write at all throughout the years.
How is Discovering Aberration a book only you could have written? What about the story resonates with you?
That’s a great question, but a difficult one to answer. I’ve never read a novel quite like Discovering Aberration, which is probably why I wrote it, if that makes sense. I love to create things that are unique and entertaining, but also thought provoking, or at times mind bending.
We got together for a reading and music jam this weekend. How’d you get the idea to set that up? Also, what were you thinking when you asked to have me along?
I’ve done a few of these events now, but this was the biggest. When I first started doing them was while I was in college. I had written all these stories and had them published in magazines and online, but even so they weren’t very accessible to the general public unless you knew where to look for them.
I just wanted to show my friends what I could do. So I went to a coffee shop and asked for the owner and told him I could fill up the place, lying through my teeth. And it worked! I sent a text to all my friends inviting them, called a few buddies who played music, and they brought their friends, and in the end it was standing room only.
But for this latest one I had something I needed to get done. I needed funding for my novel, and the best way I knew how was to do bring a bunch of people into one room, show them a good time, then ask them for it. Music is always a part of it, because music is a part of me. I’m a crappy musician (though I’ve tried my fair share of times), but I’m great at listening to it, and it gives me a chance to drink some courage.
Why’d I invite you? Because I love writers, and we need to support each other. I saw you were interested in coming, but I didn’t know who you were. I quickly found out you were a writer, so I checked out your work. Immediately I enjoyed it, so I thought you’d be perfect for the event.
What are your goals as an author? What do you want your legacy to be?
My goal is simple. I just want to be able to spend my life doing what I love. My goal in life is to spend the morning with my family, the evenings with my friends, and the nights with a glass of gin writing.