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Brandon Barr Interview – Song of the Worlds

Brandon Barr

Brandon Barr is a beloved figure in Indie Author circles, being an active member of several online communities and having spoken at the 20BooksTo50k® conference.

He has inspired many of us as he spoke about his leukemia. His story has been one of strength and hope as he battled through two bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy. Now, that story has become a lesson in dignity and grace as he enters his final weeks. Between hospital visits, he has answered some of our questions.

Where are you from?

Born and raised in Southern California in cities like Grand Terrace and Redlands. For college, I stayed local and went to California Baptist University and received a Bachelors in English in 2004.

When and why did you start writing?

It started by reading certain books that really excited me. In fifth grade, I read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and immediately started writing stories. Between ages 12 and 15, I would read them aloud to my friends. Then, writing fell to the wayside, though I continued reading up until a college professor offered extra credit for a creative writing assignment. I was in my senior year and I jumped on the project. Ever since that college story I wrote back in 2004, I’ve been unable to cut off the overwhelming joy of writing.

What authors and books influenced your writing?

Rise of the Seer (cover)Michael Crichton clearly did! But authors such as Ray Bradbury, C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card drove my imagination and shaped me the most. I also had the privilege of being tutored by Hugo and Nebula nominated, Bruce McAllister for several years at his home where he conducted a cozy little writers group.

The elephant in the room is your leukemia. How has that affected your writing?

Since I began to feel its effects in late 2014, it has slowed me down a lot, taken away my energy, and made writing twice as hard. However, the passion remained, and after each of my two transplants, I continued to write. I wrote about half of book three and some of book four [of the Song of the Worlds series] in various hospitals, including City of Hope National Medical Center. The story I was telling meant so very much to me.

What inspired you to write Song of the Worlds?

When I think about my stories, I think of the individual characters and about themes. Many of the characters in Song of the Worlds were inspired by seeing humans struggling, suffering, and the questions that all of us ask ourselves no matter what we believe. Why are things this way? The world should be different. But in this story, I wanted this theme to go deep into the characters and the plot.

Her Dangerous Visions (cover)

Fantasy fiction is a blessing in that it allows authors to tell heroic stories that WE need to hear. We may sit in an office chair half the day, or be stuck in traffic, or need to get groceries, or this or that; but fantasy fiction touches deep into something that humans long for. That under our suits and ties or t-shirt and jeans, we have a hero or heroine inside of us. They may be timid, but this heroic person inside of us is an admirer of fantasy stories where they can identify with the characters, root and cheer for them, and in some cases, want to be them (even if the going is very difficult). We long to fix the world by going on a quest, or throwing the One Ring into Mount Doom, or playing out some great prophetic role like Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi fantasy classic, Dune.

What unique worldbuilding concepts did you use?

What I grew to love about my fantasy world was its size. In the Silver Hand Galaxy there are hundreds of thousands of stars and only a small fraction of them have been explored or discovered. There are two ways to travel to another world: 1) you can go by spaceship if you happen to live on an advanced world, or 2) you can travel by portal. Portals in my story have very specific rules and dangers.

From what I’ve read, Rise of the Seer has a dark setting, but heroic, hopeful characters. What can you tell us about them? Who did you base them on?

The Bridge Beyond Her World (cover 2)

Yes, these heroes are real and have flaws like any of us. When we look at our past, we can easily point out our flaws, but it’s our present flaws that we often try to see as reasonable, or even virtuous that are our real enemies.

Meluscia, a young woman fighting to be the next ruler of her people, she has very noble aims. Her father is dying from an illness, and Meluscia finds herself in a struggle with her father’s chief military officer to be chosen for the throne. She sees a path of peace for her kingdom, and she fears this other leader, Valcere, will bring unnecessary war to her land. Meluscia pushes beyond her own safety and plots with foreign leaders, attempts to sway her father’s Regents, and then spies on dignitaries that come to the castle, but one thing she cannot overcome is her own vices (spying on her own servants, loneliness and lust). Little does she know, her kingdom is only one small part in a galaxy-wide storm that is coming. For there are god-like beings called the Beasts who have aims on squelching any prophecies and taking over as many worlds as they can get their claws on.

On a nearby world lives Winter, a young farm girl alongside her brother. She’s met a Maker (a being who made the worlds). She has been tasked with destroying a Beast, and her only weapon is deeply disturbing visions of dark things and even death. She must learn to use and trust her Seer gift even if it has only brought death and destruction to her past. The Maker who gave her the gift promised that it would save more than it would kill. It is a theme that Winter is picking up in the world around her. Death and sadness, new life and hope. Winter is determined to never lose hope and follow her calling to kill a beast, but she has no idea how much this will cost her.

So far, the villains seem quite dreadful and evil. Will any of them have a redemption arc?

Well, one villain does have a redemptive moment… but to find out, you’ll have to read on. 😀

What do you want readers to take away from your series?

Her Father's Fugitive Throne (cover 2)I love getting emails and seeing reviews like this:

“I often wish there were a different rating scale. Sometimes I’m unsure whether to give a four or five star rating. For this book, Her Father’s Fugitive Throne, I would like to rate it higher than five stars. When I finished the second book in the series and rated it five stars I thought it couldn’t get any better. Book three was.” – Bill

“This series is nothing less than fine literature. Barr has created worlds and cultures that are believable in the fantasy/SF mind and peopled them with fully-fleshed characters. This is writing at its best. This 3rd book proves that what started out great as a series is consistently outstanding. I cannot recommend this author too highly.” – MVSKoke

Anything else you want us to know?

I’m honored you’ve read my interview here. I hope I have touched your life or connected with you in some way that binds us together. 🙂 I’m sorry I won’t be able to tell more stories, but I am delighted and deeply thankful to a handful of excellent writers who are going over the last pieces of book four and five with me so that they will be published. These folks have big hearts along with being very talented. Thank you all!

Brandon’s time with us is sadly coming to an end. He will leave behind not only his stories but also his family. All of us at Fantasy-Faction would appreciate if you could take a moment of your time to visit his GoFundMe page that was set up to help his family after he is gone. You can also learn more about his works on his website, here.

Brandon Barr - GoFundMe

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4 Comments

  1. It’s wonderful to read an interview with Brandon. I only wish he had more time so I could get to know him better, and so he could continue to weave fantastic tales for readers to enjoy.

  2. Fee Roberts says:

    Thought you guys would like to know that the GoFundMe link is taking people to Brandon’s website.

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