I'd like to welcome fellow Odyssey grad Barbara A. Barnett to the blog today! She is one of the wittiest, loveliest people I know. Read on to find out more about her!
What are you working on right now?
I've been working on a particularly slow-going round of revisions on a tricksy little beastie of a short story involving a violin, a magical military chaplain, and things that go boom. I've also got me a shiny new flash story to tweak and polish.
What's your pre-writing ritual?
I don't have one. I just apply butt to chair and start writing. Actually, even the butt-to-chair part doesn't always happen. I've been doing a lot more writing while standing recently.
What is one of the most surprising/interesting things you've discovered while doing research for a story?
One of my favorites was learning about the town of Longyearbyen, which is part of Norway's Svalbard Islands. You're not allowed to die in Longyearbyen. Because of the climate, bodies buried there won't decompose, hence the no-death policy. I found that fascinating. Now if I could just sell the story that research spawned . . .
Tell me about your favorite story that you've published. What inspired it, and what does it mean to you?
It's tough to pick, but at present I'd have to go with "Mortis Persona," which was published in Fantasy Magazine and reprinted in Wilde Stories 2011: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction. The story was inspired by a panel I attended at World Fantasy Convention. One of the panelists mentioned the ancient Roman funereal practice of actors wearing death masks to represent ancestors of the deceased. My brain immediately went, "Dude, what if the actors actually became the ancestors when they wore the masks?" The story was challenging to write, but I fell in love with the world and the characters, and getting to see several readers fall in love with them too resulted in many warm fuzzy feelings.
You can have lunch with any writer, living or dead. Who would it be, and why?
Peter Beagle, because I absolutely adore The Last Unicorn. It's one of the few books I've read multiple times. I tend to be a super-slow reader, so that's saying a lot.
What's one of the best novels and/or short stories you've read recently?
Sadly, I haven't been able to do much fiction reading lately because of grad school and my raging case of slow-reader-itis. One book I did manage to read recently was The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I love the voice and style with which she writes.
Writing is a sedentary endeavor. What do you do to stay healthy and active?
I'm lucky in that I have a day job that frequently keeps me on my feet carrying around large folders full of orchestral music. As I mentioned before, I've also taken to standing while I write, which helps. And I find that regular exercise helps me both physically and mentally, especially walks and yoga—two things I've unfortunately been slacking on lately.
Barbara A. Barnett is an avid rejection letter collector (aka writer), musician, Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate, SFWA member, coffee addict, wine lover, bad movie mocker, and all-around geek. Her short fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in publications such as Fantasy Magazine, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Flash Fiction Online and Wilde Stories 2011: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction. In addition to writing, she works in an orchestra library and is currently pursuing a master's degree in library and information science at Rutgers University. Barbara lives with her husband in southern New Jersey, frequently bursts into song, and can be found online at www.babarnett.com.