Rawling Around With Wilde Aliens | An Interview With Barry Quinn

Who is Barry Quinn, where can I find more of his work?

I’m from the Northeast of England near Newcastle. I’ve recently started a writing blog (which can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com) which has blog posts about writing itself, extracts from the novel I am working on, and links to my published pieces.

What made you want to submit at NiTH?

I was in between years of my Masters Degree and I went through a bit of a creative lull in terms of the novel I’m writing. Some things weren’t working, which was extremely frustrating, so I took a break from it for a month. I kept writing, though, and produced several short stories. I decided to enter some writing competitions on a whim, and Googled “writing competitions”. NiTH popped up, and luckily there was a competition open that appealed to me – science fiction.

What was the inspiration for your story, Hu-man?

My novel is all about first encounters between humanity and extraterrestrial life, so the Others Award was the perfect fit for what I have written before. The unnamed race that appears in ‘Hu-man’ is one which I created for my novel, though this encounter between the alien and the human doesn’t feature in my novel. So it was inspired by what I have previously written, though in hindsight I have to agree with the feedback I received – it does read like more of a script than a story.

I happen to think its publication history is as interesting as the book itself, in that it was edited without Wilde’s knowledge

– On The Picture Of Dorian Gray

Got a particular writing process?

For longer pieces I plan, plan, plan! Then I draft, draft, draft. For shorter pieces, if I have a captivating idea, I tend to just write and see where the story goes. Then I leave the piece alone for a while (which can be anything from one week to one month, or maybe even longer), and then go back to it. By this point I’ve forgotten some of the details, and a fresh set of eyes allows me to notices and correct problems.

Are there any stories you’ve read at NiTH struck a chord with you?

I absolutely loved ‘The Shadow Figure’s Philosophy‘ from Sarah Henry. The language was picturesque and I think she manages to convey the exposition without clogging the story. I like how she speaks for the entire species, rather than just an individual.

What about in general. Who are your influences, and what are you reading at the moment?

My influences are quite diverse. J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series is my entire childhood; that is how I got into both reading and writing. I’d love nothing more than to be labelled as the new Rowling, though I admit this aspiration is far reaching. Contemporary-wise, I’ve been reading George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire a lot, and I’ve recently read the first Maze Runner book. It’s terribly written, but it is easy to escape into. I’m also reading Great Expectations (again) by Dickens, but I needed a break from it, which is why I read The Maze Runner. I love Forster, I love Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers and I love the short stories by Ray Bradbury. My ultimate inspiration and influence though has to be Oscar Wilde. I wrote my dissertation on The Picture of Dorian Gray, a book that I’ve read countless times. It’s poetic, mysterious, and has countless undertones.

…The feedback is very helpful, so take any feedback you can get

On entering NiTH comps

Dorian Gray. What attracts you to Wilde’s mysterious novel?

I actually wrote my dissertation on Dorian Gray (along with E. M. Forster’s Maurice, and Michael Cunningham’s The Hours), and there are several elements which attract me. Firstly I love gothic fiction and, aside from Dracula, I think Dorian Gray is the epitome of gothic fiction. I like the mystery, and the fact that even now, over 100 years after its publication, we still aren’t completely sure of its nature. It’s homosexual undertones can be simultaneously read in-depth or ignored, and either way of interpreting the novel doesn’t detract from its overall message. I happen to think its publication history is as interesting as the book itself, in that it was edited without Wilde’s knowledge because of the overt homosexual content, and then obviously it was instrumental in Wilde’s downfall during the infamous Wilde trials. If one was to read Dorian Gray, they would do well to read up on its author too, I feel. It adds so much to the story.

What do you think of the TV adaptation Game Of Thrones? Do you mind that the show might overtake the book in terms of progression?

I love Game of Thrones – I actually watched the show before reading the books, like a lot of recent fans, so I don’t mind the show overtaking the books. Considering I haven’t been waiting years like some fans for answers, I won’t mind being spoilt. I think Game of Thrones (aside from the majority of season five) was one of the better book-to-screen adaptations, and the structure of these novels helped influence the way I’m writing my book.

Got any advice for authors thinking of taking a crack at NiTH?

I’d say to just go for it. What do you have to lose? If you don’t win, or you aren’t even shortlisted, it doesn’t detract from what you’ve written, it just means that it wasn’t right for this particular site, or judge, or competition. But the feedback is very helpful, so take any feedback you can get

Thanks Barry!