As our pals at Geek & Sundry kick off the next Inkshares publishing contest, we are thrilled to announce that the second Nerdist book, It’s All Fun and Games, is available now! Dave Barrett’s fantasy novel, which explores what happens when a LARP (live action role playing) universe comes to life, is the first ever Nerdist book to come out of our partnership with crowdfunding publisher Inkshares, (followed by Zachary Linville’s heartbreaking zombie thriller, Welcome to Deadland, which hits stores next week).
And in honor of book release day, we spoke with Barrett about how he got into writing, his experiences with our Inkshares contest, and much, much more.
Nerdist: How did you first get into writing?
Dave Barrett: I began writing on a lark. In 2007 I heard an interview with Chris Baty on NPR and he was talking about this National Novel Writing Month thing [NaNoWriMo]. He was so convincing — everyone has a novel inside of them, they just need to sit down and get it out! So that November I sat down and wrote. 50,000 words in 30 days sounds like a lot, until you break it into chunks. It turns out to be fewer than 1700 words a day, which is 5-6 pages single spaced. If you’re consistent in your work, you really can do it.
That first novel was pretty rough, as were the ones that followed in subsequent years. It wasn’t until It’s All Fun and Games, my 2010 novel, that I felt like I had something really worth pursuing beyond just sharing with friends and family. But that’s OK. I feel like each year my writing got a little bit better, and that’s really all I cared about.
N: What is your real-life experience with LARPing?
DB: Somewhat limited, to be honest. I’ve attended a big LARP convention called Intercon in Massachusetts, and participated in a couple fantasy LARPs over the years, but growing up in Houston before the Internet, all I could find was the SCA. Getting geared up in full armor and being hit with real weapons in the Texas heat was definitely not on my list of priorities. Most of my gaming experience has been in Tabletop RPGs- starting with D&D, playing a couple different iterations of d20, and now I’ve settled quite comfortably into Pathfinder. I DM for my kids and their friends when I get a chance. It’s a hoot.
N: How did you first hear about the Inkshares contest?
DB: A friend of mine, who had read all of my writing, saw the contest pop up on Facebook and said, “You should enter this!” I actually shrugged it off for a week or so – it’s really easy to be dismissive of your own work. I mean seriously, who would be willing to pay me for it anyway? I eventually gave in and signed up. Because of the delay I was coming from pretty far behind, but I plugged away and squeaked into the top five.
Nerdist and Geek and Sundry are doing several more contests (including a Fantasy-themed one that just started!), and anyone who’s got something penned should throw their hat into the ring. Worst case, they’re in the same position they were before the contest. Best case – they’ll get to work with some incredible people to make your book all it can be. Just be prepared to work hard! Crowdfunding isn’t easy, so you’ve got to be ready to hustle hustle hustle.
N: What was your favorite part of the contest?
DB: I have gotten to meet and work with so many incredible and talented people all throughout the process. Between my Editor Kiele Raymond and my Copy Editor Michael Trudeau, my story and prose improved dramatically. Every comment was on point, and every comment made It’s All Fun and Games better. The folks at Inkshares have been doing yeoman’s work marketing and distributing, and Inkshares CEO Adam Gomolin has been kicking down doors selling derivative rights for me.
My marketing manager Avalon Radys got me set up with a panel inside Comic-Con in San Diego, and while I was out there I was fortunate to meet and spend time with a whole host of folks at Legendary Digital, including E-I-C Rachel Heine, Marketing Director Rachel Romero, Senior Editor Dan Casey and even got to talk business talk with LDN President Adam Rymer. Oh, and have you seen my cover? WOW!
And then, of course, I’ve gotten to meet and interact with dozens of other writers within the Inkshares community. The amount of talent that has coalesced around the Inkshares platform is really really really cool. I can see these storytellers being the center of popular Fantasy and Science Fiction media for years to come.
N: What has the publishing process been like, once the book was wrapped?
DB: A surprising amount of work, and really long! I was vain enough to believe that my novel was in pretty good shape when I first turned it in. LOL nope. Very little of the original novel made its way all the way through the process intact. So I was writing and rewriting as my editors helped me refine both story and text. In the meanwhile, we had cover design. We had to write copy for the covers and for marketing purposes. There was proofreading and more proofreading…I turned in my manuscript at the very beginning of October, and it’s just hitting bookstores August 2. The best part is that over this almost-year I’ve seen all that work come together to put together something that I think is pretty special. I’m so proud of the team.
N: What advice do you have for future contest hopefuls?
DB: Work hard. I saw quite a few contest entrants who signed up and then walked away, expecting that the Public would stumble upon their proposal page and be wowed into giving them money. That might be true for someone with a big name and following, but for the little guys that are just getting off the ground (pretty much everyone in one of these contests), you’ve got to be constantly working, constantly pitching your book. When my contest ended I was so happy that I could take a break from asking people to buy. Of course now I’m back at it. Buy my book!
N: What are some of your favorite sci-fi and fantasy novels?
DB: In terms of fantasy…
- The Prydain Cycle by Lloyd Alexander – this was my gateway fantasy novel.
- The Midkemia series by Raymond Feist – A deep world with wonderfully engaging characters. I’ve loved every one of them (especially pickpocket-turned-duke Jimmy the Hand).
- The Gentleman Bastards books by Scott Lynch – Fantasy Con men. Awesomeness.
- The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin – along with Prydain, my go-to “if I were in that world…” stories.
And for sci-fi…
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov – Duh.
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Such wonderful absurdity.
- The Vorkosigan series by Lois Bujold – Another rogue character making his way through charisma, intellect, and sheer audacity.
Dave Barrett’s It’s All Fun and Games is available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and in your favorite independent bookstores now.