Interview by David Cranmer
How is your new editor job at Flash Fiction Offensive going?
The editor job at FFO is going great. Better than I could have imagined, really. It all came about after a brief email to a great writer, Glenn Gray. I was being nosey and asking if he'd written any new stories, etc, as he doesn't have a blog. A couple of emails later and he tells me he's passed my name to Matt Louis (owner of FFO and Out of the Gutter Magazine) and, if I fancied giving it a try, would I be interested in running the mag. Discussions with my wife ensued and her final response was, "Go for it. What's the worst that could happen?"
So, big thanks go out to Glenn for the initial contact, Matt for giving me the opportunity, and my wife, Lisa, for backing me and having confidence in me.
I've only been doing it for about 3 months now but it seems to be going from strength to strength, so much so I've had to close submissions for a month.
I'm really enjoying it and I've learnt quite a lot in the time I've been running it. I try to be an understanding editor and offer advice where I can and I'm more than willing to discuss stories with contributors. I think communication is an important part of being an editor too, and I regularly give updates to writers as to when their stories are being published, etc.
I'd like to think that I'm in this for the long run, so you can expect me to be around for some time.
What are the chances of a story being featured in the FFO finding its way to the Out of the Gutter print mag?
Ultimately, it's totally up to Matt which of the stories I publish make it into the print magazine. In the submission guidelines it explains that if a story is good enough there is a chance it could make the mag.
At the end of the day, if you send me something that I think is a great story that's well written and has had some love and care shown to it, then I'm going to publish it. If Matt then likes it, then there's a great chance he could use it. I would see that as a double bonus: what a great achievement for the writer and (not taking anything whatsoever away from the writer) by myself in that I'd accepted another great story.
What are the guidelines for submitting?
Guidelines for submitting to us are pretty simple. You write a good story, polish it up well and get the editing sorted. Then there are a couple of ways to send your story in: as a .doc attachment or within the body of an email. The latter is preferable as formatting can get a bit out of control when copying from an attachment. But here’s the thing that could make or break it for you. I find it hard to open a story that doesn’t have a covering letter. Would a writer send the first few chapters of their novel to an agent without a query letter? I don’t think so. Those first few chapters would end up in the shredder. Therefore, writers should show the same respect to online magazines. We are, in essence, the stepping stones to the bigger picture. This issue will be one of the new guidelines, so writers should bear this in mind when submitting stories. I’m not asking for a query letter, but a simple “Hello, would you consider the following…” would be appreciated. Manners, after all, are a free commodity in a world where prices for things are going out of control.
What is David Barber’s day job?
I'm a self-employed tiler during the day, a job that pays pretty well but takes its toll on your knees and back. I've always been in physical employment from the day I left school, and never been out of work since that day.
Before I worked for myself, I was a firefighter for ten years but was finished due to an injury and management politics. Long story for another time.
With all the world-wide catastrophes and wars going on, it does look like this is the end, doesn't it?
No, far from it. In my opinion, wars and natural disasters have been happening for years and years and they always will. I think the media [and becoming an adult] has a lot to answer for when it comes to the way people think. When I was a kid I never knew there were wars going on or thousands of people were killed by freak floods. News programs were only on once a day and they were late on at night, plus our parents never spoke about atrocities and such. We were protected from the news. In those days, paedophiles were never even heard of. The news and media now are glorifying everything to sell their products and the news is on every TV channel as well as being on 24 hours a day on their own stations.
What do you think of American football?
American Football? I do actually watch it now and again but I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. I’m a football [soccer] man myself although I played rugby for a couple of years when I fell out with football. The strong urge to go back to diving at opponent’s feet and flinging myself across frozen goal mouths was too strong though. Yes, I was a goalkeeper, and that may have something to do with my tired and broken joints.
Do you own a kilt?
Do I own a kilt? No, but on my Dad's side there is Scottish blood in the family so I suppose I could if I wanted to. I hired the full works last year which I wore to my friend's wedding, although I wasn't traditional and didn't go "commando". I don't think many do anymore - or I was just a coward! I've wore a dress before but that's a whole other story for another time! Ha!