Author Archives: Shannon Barber

About Shannon Barber

I am a strange little woman who likes pie.

What I’m reading and some thoughts.

I have been thirsty for other worlds lately and trying desperately to not hate some genre fiction.

First I want to talk about the Sandman Slim Series by Richard Kadrey.  So outside of the fact that I just love the character Sandman Slim and these books are populated with low lifes, drunks and assholes as opposed to pure sweet magical folk is great.

BUT after reading (I’m up to the fourth book I think?) the last one I read I have some things I have got to say.

Now during the first book when he introduced a woman of color as a speaking/thinking character I was, let’s say skeptical. Frankly I figured this character would be dead/maimed/used as a prop and that I’d just have to deal with it.

So okay.

I got to the second book, there she was.

She is written like a real whole human being with thoughts and feelings that don’t revolve around some derivative Mammy or Jezebel stereotype. Her beauty is mentioned. Her heart is mentioned. She is important to the fucking story.

Coming on the heels of trying to read ASOIAF and raging out for five books straight. And then another fantasy series where anything within shouting distance of black was just pure evil.

The erasure of the POC on a couple of shows I had wanted to watch, the Whiteness of horror and everything else I have been desperate. Y’all I just want my goddamn escapism maybe with a smidge less Whiteness.

And then Mr Kadrey.

Is it the most? Naw. Still a lot of white people but the difference between this and say that magical negro nonsense both King and Straub do, this is a whole character. Whole. Not a caricature of mashed up tropes, an entire being.

I want more because he does it well. We know I’m a greedy reader.

This series is fulfilling an important role in my reading menu. Sometimes, as conscious as I am of everything in the fucking world that sucks. I just want to read something that makes me happy.

Mr. Kadrey’s work makes me happy.

Now I would advise those who can’t seem to figure out how to make a Non white person be a real person in their work check it out.

There is also that gritty, grimy quality to this series that really satisfies a particular need I have.

Now recently I on a whim got a copy of Jhereg by Steven Brust which is the first of a series.

Someone who knows my taste for crime and noir and suspense and shit recommended the series to me. I am just about done with the first book and it has yet to just scream WHITENESS WHITENESS WHITENESS WHITENESS at me in the language or mythology so far.

I will remain skeptical for another book or so but for now something I am very into is that I don’t have to really reach to picture some of these characters as non white people.  There is actually room in the prose for me to see myself in that world and that’s great because I love the world so far.

Intrigue, murder, spying and shit.

While the world is just terrifying to me right now on a level I can barely put into words, having some bit of escapism that doesn’t cause me pain or bug me to the point I can’t stand it is really valuable.

I can’t tell y’all how nice it was a few weeks ago to be finishing the second in the Sandman Slim series on a day where four of my social media inboxes were full of racialized hate and threats of one sort or another. And I spent the day watching people shit on my work because they don’t like me personally. It was rough. I felt pretty terrible and then I had a world I could go to and escape for the hour and a half it took me to get home.

That is why I’m such a lover of books and why I find it so hard to deal with the Whiteness of everything sometimes.

I feel like the couple of hours a day I can escape while things are changing and happening for me is so important and finding stuff that doesn’t boot me out of that has become vital.

So hats off sirs.

Well played.


Y’all are not ready.

I have been sitting on a major secret.

I am super proud to announce that Milcah Orbacedo is opening a brand new press called MotherBlazing Books and I am her first author.

We are going to do SO MUCH together.

There will be special edition print books, ebooks, a brand new website AND TEE SHIRTS.

I am so so happy to be doing it this way. Coming up I’m also going to talk about how meaningful it is to me to be bringing my first not published by me print book into the world with someone who really sees who I am and values me for who I am and who I trust and love.

This is the publishing I want.

Now I am super exhausted and I have been bursting to tell everyone.

To keep up on what’s going on and to see when the new website drops like the bass you can come like my author page on faceook.

I hope you all come along for the ride because it’s going to be fucking great.

 


So many things.

So hey.

Outside of everything in merica being real fucking terrible right now some good stuff is going on in my writing life.

Ready?

So firstly new publication news.

I have flash fiction in Ex Fic. A tiny story about a prostitute that does not invoke Pretty Woman nor is it anti sex worker nonsense. Go forth and enjoy it here.

AND I have tiny prose poetry in Urban Graffiti (I think I told y’all?) my type of romance between cutters. Enjoy. Also the art the editor chose is really beautiful. Kinda NSFW.

AND one more little flash piece in Black Mirror Magazine. Get it here.

All of these acceptances came in a little succession and as I was organizing my rejection list/submission list I realized that traditionally for at least the last five years, June-about now is ALWAYS a dry season for me and I don’t know why.

The next new thing is in anticipation of a super special thing happening, I now have an author page on the facebooks for writing related stuff. If you have one too, drop me a link and I can like it. Here you will find mine, it’s kind of naked right now but that will be changing soon.

What else?

OH I got a new to me laptop. It is a little (not so little) used Dell and I make a little nest in my bed, with my bulldog puppy lapdesk and go. It feels pretty good to have my technology handled.

I have been writing like a mother fucker and nestling in this feeling of having a very special community of other women writers I’ve found who are ready to yell and talk about pooping and make up and thing.

And to still have the support of women I love and admire. To have them tell me yes. Having them tell me when I have ideas WRITE THAT SHIT.

Writing life feels right.

I could be getting published more. I could be submitting more. My output could be bigger but things feel nice and right right now.

Now I should probably eat some food because I am exhausted and in need of something

That something is going to be rewatching Carnivale (someone remind me to go blog about the one Cooch dancer in my other blog alter) and I will get through the remainder of my shift at my dayjob without falling or goig to sleep.


Dragons, Wights, Giants, White Walkers yes! Brown people Not so Much.

First read this where George R.R Martin sort of addresses his franchises race problem.

This jumped out at me:

In June, a fan asked Martin: “There are a white race, a black race in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, and many other races. Why there is no Asian race (Chinese-like, Japanese-like) in the Game of Thrones show and ASOIAF books?”

Martin replied:

Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren’t a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either.

That is not to suggest that such places don’t exist, however. You will want to get THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE when it comes out in October. In the “Other Places” section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest,

Wait..hold up.

So in a fantasy realm that is an analogue of the British Isles…that if you do non racist research you’ll learn is not the fantasy bastion of pure whiteness. We have:

  • Dragons
  • White Walkers
  • Giants
  • Gigantic Wolves
  • Children of the Forest
  • Krakens

ETC

That totally works because well, what is fantasy without fantastical creatures.

But it is so hard to not erase the POC or to use them in deeply racist and problematic ways in the books?

Thinly veiled Latina (hot spicy slutty) stereotypes, people coded as Black referred to as “mongrels” by one of the Whitest White Savioring (Mother) slave lover/dehumanizer, rape rapity rape rape RAPE…all that is completely perfect for an Analogue of some time period in the British Isles that doesn’t fucking exist and that’s all okay BUT it is not okay to put Asian or Black folks in the story?

…………really?

Yes really. It is something I have heard from White fantasy readers since I first wanted to talk about fantasy with other fans when I was a kid.

POC make the story unbelievable.

Even if the people (problematic or not) in the story are described as Black or Asian or Latina they are read as White or if the thing is moved to a visual medium they are magically white or as we found out when the Hunger Games came out, people are disappointed that a character is of color.

Look White authors, white readers this is why POC fans can’t trust you and why we are pissed off.

Look.

If you are going to rely on stereotypes that are harmful to actual readers because you can’t look at POC as full humans or you just won’t, don’t bother.

Stop.

A lot of White authors wring their hands about how “hard” it is to write POC. Look it’s not really that fucking hard if you look at people of color as fully functional human beings. If you don’t actually do that and seriously honest with yourself, I question your motives and everything else.

One of the fundamental ideas about character is that they are in essence fully made beings and if you are a pretty good author you write them with depth.

If you write every other character (even to the non human) with depth and feeling and reduce your token POC to bed warmers, tongueless slaves, slaves or other two dimensional characters I don’t trust you.

As readers if you can legit believe in the perils of White Walkers and that winter is fucking coming and having non white fully formed characters in a story ruins it, well as they say you might be a racist.

Being both a fan and a creator let me show you how I feel about this in a nutshell:

OFFTOFUCK

God damn it.

We live in the fucking future.

It is 20 mother fucking 14 and White people still often act like POC are aliens and there’s no way to actually hear us speak or learn about us without colonizing or assimilating.

Come on now.

Try the fuck harder.

That’s all.


On freelancing research and whatnot.

Okay first thing.

To the person coming in to tell me to “stop whining” about white people, fuck off.

You come in trying to cheerfully do something, anonymously grow a spine or stay the fuck out.

Okay now new business.

I have been doing a lot of research on getting myself more freelance paid work.

Given the subject matter I like writing about generally speaking mingled with uh, the dearth of writers of color at a lot of the venues I have been introduced to I’m feeling a little uh, unsettled.

I’m not awesome at writing on spec all the time and that is a skill I am working on.

And I’m not great at pitching but I am working on that as well.

I feel like until I get my tech situation worked out, I should just write some shit and keep on keeping on.

This stuff is daunting but I am ready I think.

What else am I working on?

I am working on lightening up in my non fiction. I don’t know what it is precisely but writing the shit that just guts me comes too naturally and I dont’ know how to deal with the emotional depletion and often following racialized bullshit. Recovering takes a lot out of me and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all that beyond shut down.

Since I got a new phone I have been writing tiny flash fiction things on it while I wait for the bus.

One of these recently got published, see it here in Black Mirror Magazine. The most amusing thing about that is mainly that I wrote it standing at a bus stop, while a homeless woman was calling me satan. I see her every now and then, I gave her a cigarette once because she was staring at me while I was smoking but now she calls me satan every time I see her.

I’ve written about four other tiny flash pieces. I’m calling them experimental horror flavored retellings. Brief. Non specific. Experiments.

I am getting back into the swing of submitting fiction.

After my initial freak out about things happening for me that I hadn’t foreseen I am ready. Well maybe not ready but I am at least working it out.

That is all the news. I have work to do.

 


On Ambition and publication news

First the publication news.

I wrote a poem about/inspired by my dear friend Haddayr and it got picked up at Leaves of Ink. I’ve known Haddayr around the intertubes for years now and there is something about her that just touches me in my soul area and I love her so much I want to hug her until she farts and then we can laugh and yell and probably fall down. This poem was inspired by something she said and I am so so honored it got published. ALSO she is a kick ass fucking writer. Seriously. Essays, fiction. Read her.

Next I had an essay edited and published by Antonia Mother fucking Crane. I admit I freaked out a bit when she asked me for a thing about kink and the first thing that came to mind was the topic of my failure to fulfill the pisser portion of being a piss queen. Read it here at The Weeklings. There are few things I love more than having a good editor and Antonia is a fine editor. She coaxed better timing out of me, writing in a world that is very stuck on quick fast and in a hurry she encouraged me to get back to a slow burn.  It was also my first serious try at being on purpose funny. I am a funny person, but never when I am trying to be funny.

I am also cruising along at Xojane with my self care series. Some folks hate it and hate me and that is kind of great. So many other people have left comments there and elsewhere telling me that they need to hear this stuff.  This is my first thing I’ve been paid for on the regular and had it be such a serious affirmation of things that make me feel like a better human. I have a lot of feelings about it.

I am still working really hard on figuring out how to balance writing freelance things, submitting things, writing fiction and working my day job and managing my fucking feelings and holy shit it is all so much.

OH I also relaunched my personal blog. You can see my new spot here.

Watch me segue really smoothly here.

As I am doing these things and gaining exposure to new audiences and doing so while feeling like an actual part of a writing community that accepts and loves me for who I actually am and what I actually write and not my potential to be the next Alice Walker, I am realizing that my ambitions are changing in ways I did not anticipate.

At one time, maybe six years ago I would have said that my ambition was to write novels, get them published with some critical acclaim and to ease off the teat of the dayjob.

Right now honestly all I want is that spreading readership, my writer homies backing me and maybe enough spare money made to get some tattoos, replace my electronics and whatnot.

Some fun money and an awesome readership is what it boils down to.

I am still only semi invested in mainstream publishing and that finally feels okay to me. The more I learn about big deal “serious” publishing the less I see a place there for myself.

I feel like I am learning to put less pressure on myself to be the Big Bad Black Trailblazing Negress. I do it when I feel like it. When I can but I’m not going to eat myself up trying.

I think that’s all for right now. I should update my website but I don’t feel like it. Instead I’m going to eat something tasty and do some work on something close to my little heart.

Later taters.


Dear Authors an Open Letter to Writers

Dear Authors,

I recently finished reading Ghost Story by Peter Straub.(This is an affiliate link sorry)

Overall it was an entertaining yarn. I’m not super familiar with his ouevre but some of what I’ve read was pretty good.

And then this.

Okay look, can we stop with the mystical magical negro?

Also can we not denote said mystical magical negro with some heavily antiquated shuck n jive, minstrel (yeah the one Black man in this book…minstrel..you know) every old black man is a blues man who speaks in raspy jazzy baritone with a lot of I be’s and shit.

Fuck.

Really?

REALLY?

I just, y’all.

Can you not?

Just don’t bother if that is the only thing you can think of. Even for a novel with a timeless ageless mystical magical negro, there are other ways of expressing blackness even antiquated blackness.

White writers this is a problem.

So really if you’re not even going to really try to do something outside of the mystical magical shuck n jive I be playin dem blues boss negro, stop.

Maybe I have too much expectation. Or faith in writers who have made more money than I have ever seen in my lifetime that they could (Straub, King, I am looking at you two) think of something else to do.

Mr. Bunny…Bones…whatever his name was from this book was the evil version of the Black man in the book he did with King.

Literally the same rhythms and cadences and manners of speech.

Authors at large, y’all know there are many different accents and types of Black people speech right?

Frankly anything written after the year 2000, come on now.

I feel like these things are again ruining my love of horror.

Ruining it.

I mean okay if you can build a world within the modern world where there are ancient mythological beings who will fuck up your whole life only because they can and they are bored, and you can populate an entire town with interesting people, and you can research enough so that behaviors from specific time periods make sense why is there only that Black man in so many horror stories.

I feel the same way about fantasy stories.

I got two books into the Shannara series and had to quit.

Not too long ago I went on a mission to check out some online horror/sf/f zines.

So much with the Whiteness. To the point where I wonder if classic horror tropes treated outside of European roots would be understood? Accepted?

What is even…ugh.

I’m so frustrated. I want to read shit I like and not feel shitty about it.

Something outside of Whiteness or nah?

Apparently nah.

I don’t want to read another mystical magical minstrelized blues playing shuck n jive negro.

So a lot of stuff is just out.

I am seriously feeling some type of way about this right now. I have a lot of horror/sf/f/ related stuff on my writing bucketlist but I feel like there is no place for me in genre fiction and it hurts my fucking heart.

So really, dear other authors can you not?

Sincerely,

Shannon Barber


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