Shells Chats with author Jennifer Barnes

What made you want to start writing?

I’ve always had a love for stories. When I was a child my mother would often read to me, and I learned how to read at a very early age while my father use to make up stories to tell me before bed. I always had an active imagination as well. When I was a kid all the other kids would want to play things like Tag or some sports while I wanted to comb through the Amazon looking for a rare species of killer piranha that was terrorizing the Natives.

I was a bit of an odd child, comes from having a father who was a biologist who studied wolves. I can honestly say that I was raised with wolves. He also did comic art as a hobby while my mother was an avid reader. So I grew up around weirdness and it brewed some fantastic stories.

I always liked story telling, but as a kid I was pushed more towards science by my teachers because I was good at it. Not to mention I am dyslexic and had trouble with spelling, which at that point growing up was mostly what was taught in Language Arts. It wasn’t until I reached Middle School and had Creative Writing where I had a wonderful teacher named Ms. King who showed me how wonderful writing could be.

So I started to write.

Then two things happened: I found a young adult book series by L.J Smith called “Night World” and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer started airing and they inspired and changed me.

I’ve been writing ever since Middle School and never looked back.

What is the strangest thing you have ever written?

A fanfic that will not be named. It’s too embarrassing and I wrote it ten years ago . . . However the dang story still gets comments from

Do you let your family read your stories?

My husband is actually my proof reader/editor. Like I said, my mother is an avid reader and she’s been bugging me to write a romance novel series for years. I’m this close from cracking.

My grandmother, who hates horror, wanted to read the first real story I got published. I’m terrified to find out what she thinks of it honestly.

If you had to pick a favorite genre to write in, what would it be?

Dark Urban Fantasy. I write about mystical forces hand and hand with normal people and how they deal with the modern world. I write about vampires using guns and the internet and so on and so forth.

However I am not afraid to admit that I write erotica and romance. Honestly, the first piece of fiction I had ever published was an erotic short. It has a market and there’s nothing wrong with it. Not to mention sexuality is healthy. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it and there are all sorts of health and mental problems that occur when you deny your libido. And if reading some vampire romance novel helps you with that, then hey I’m all for it! (Hell, writing said vampire romance novel helps out my libido.)

Do you feel emotions play a part when writing a story and how much of you do you put into your writing?

Yes, my emotions play a huge part in my writing. I often joke that if I didn’t write, I’d go insane. It’s a huge stress relief.

Bad day at work?

Well there’s the Big Bad that needs to be taken out in a ferocious battle.

Not to mention there are parts of me and people I know scattered out through my characters. I have one character that I am writing a novel about who is a sociopath. He doesn’t care what people think of him and he’s also brilliant. He’ll say what’s on his mind, when it’s on his mind and to hell with the consequences.

So he’s the part of me who wants to be a raging asshole, and man there are times where it feels good to write him.

Now the heroine from my Fem-Fangs story “Night of the Suck” is a lot like my mother. Well, my mother if she was an ancient vampire who took a level in badass. So I guess my love for my mother drives the love for that character, who I’ve written about for years.

How do you compare writing fan fiction to regular fiction writing?

Honestly, writing fan fiction is a lot easier than regular fiction writing. With fan fic you have an universe already created with mythology, history and already established characters to play with. I’ve written my fair share of fan fiction in the past, even won a few awards for it, and it can be a lot of fun. However it can be good practice as well to learn structure, form and characterization.

Also with fan fiction it seems to be more of a social thing as well because most people post their stuff on line and other fans comment on it. Regular fiction writing is more internal and more of a solitary process. Of course with regular fiction writing, if published, there’s the editor reading the story and so forth as well. Not to mention most people really don’t email an author of a story in an anthology, so there’s not as much rapport with their readers as there is with fan fiction.

Now I will say that writing original fiction is more satisfying on a personal level. There is more of you going into it than a fan fic. It’s also a lot more work, but that adds to the satisfaction as well. And if you get published, then it just makes everything that much sweeter.

You have written some short stories, where can we find some of these?

Right now I’ve been published by Pill Hill Press for their anthology “Fem-Fangs” for my story, “Night of the Suck”, which you can see more here and through DFE Quarterly, which is an imprint of Pill Hill Press for their “Daily Flashes of Erotica”. My name’s even on the cover, which you can look at here

How do you feel about working with the smaller presses?

I like working with small press actually. One thing you don’t have to go through the middle man of an agent, and they’re generally a lot nicer to work with. They’re writers too and understand the process. First and foremost they are in it for the love of it and not just the Bottom Line.

How do you handle marketing your work?

Honestly, right now I’m pretty new to the game. I do have a Facebook page where I put up updates and the like, and I’m part of several online communities that I constantly post to. I’ve also let the publishers know of review sites that I’ve worked with in the past, written articles and the like.

Not to mention I have friends in the horror community who do podcasts and have their own websites that get high traffic.

Once I get more stuff out there, I’ll start hitting up conventions, do local book fairs, signing events and hopefully I’ll have my own website soon.

Are there any short stories or longer writing in the works?

I have several short stories in the works. I have a weird western about a pack of werewolves terrorizing a former mining town, the succubus madam of the local brothel, a half Indian sheriff trying to cope with what he had done during the Civil War and a vampire gunslinger in the works to submit to Pill Hill. Then I have a story I’m submitting to their “Dark Heroes” anthology that I shot them the idea for starring the heroine from “Night of the Suck”.

I also have a novel in the works called “Scream Queen”. It takes place in 1986 and features the heroine from “Scream Queen” trying to see “Evil Dead 2” on opening night, but things don’t go as planned. It’s pulp fun full of 80’s nostalgia and lots of love for horror movies, movies in general, and Bruce Campbell. Then again, who doesn’t love Bruce Campbell?

Where can people learn more about you?

Well, I can be contacted by email at I’m always happy to answer questions! And you can look me up on facebook, I’m under Jennifer L. Barnes there.

1 comment :

  1. Enjoyed the interview, Shells. Good luck, Jennifer, with your writing endeavors!