Clifford Barker talks about Zero: Earth and Zero: Earth Fire

 

Welcome to writer Clifford Barker!

Clifford and I are friends who have never met in person yet chat a lot online. I am thrilled to have him as a guest on my blog and learn more about his books. I'm still in the middle of reading his book but can honestly say I'm enjoying getting to know his characters and his interesting version of Earth!


 46 years old, been writing since 2015. I am a mechanical design engineer who was born in Sheffield, England but moved down to Bridgend in 2012 for work. I like motorcycling, drawing, cooking and walking my dogs. When I get writer's block, I usually make a tobacco pipe. I am not a smoker per se but bought a pipe in 2013 after my girlfriend watched me chew through another biro and suggested I should get a pipe instead. The pipe I bought was defective ... I knew I could do better.

I was inspired to write the Zero series of sci-fi novels after a dream which woke me up and left me quite disturbed. I find it easy to write but harder to find enough time to write. So far I have done all  my own covers as I am still moderately artistic though my eyes are getting weaker day by day. Enjoying the whole experience but I don't expect to get rich from it.

Facebook:- https://www.facebook.com/clifford.barker.3517/

Blog:- https://8596zero.blogspot.com/

Qwertythoughts:-https://www.qwertythoughts.com/book/zero-earth/5cf0e1e496cc95b665641b9c

                            https://www.qwertythoughts.com/book/zero-earth-fire/5e8361c774e1b28d482db20c

Twitter:- https://twitter.com/CliffordBarker9

Amazon:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Clifford-Barker/e/B089KTMLZ2

What would you say are your strengths as an author?

That's a tough question to answer, I am not really a trumpet blower. I like to think that since starting writing Zero - Earth back in 2014, I have been singularly focused on getting the story, and subsequent stories down. I remember that I used to have other hobbies, but as I am well into book four of the series, I don't think about much else. Writing Sci-Fi is hard. It's such a vast genre with so much talent already established. The key is bringing something new and exciting, this is where my effort went. Writing words is easy, developing characters and creating believable dialogue around topics which have no basis in reality, and keeping it original, that is a task. I am a bit of a perfectionist, as such I could not release book 1 until I had 2 and 3 done too. I wanted to make sure all the facts aligned, and various Easter eggs have been dropped for readers to find later. This took time, it would've been far easier not to do this, but again I am trying to be dedicated to the reader's enjoyment and create something which provokes thought.

How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?

When the words are flowing, I write every second I can. 2 to 3 chapters on the fly are quite easy for me. I was lucky that way with book 1 and 3 which practically wrote themselves, I was just a conduit. That's what it felt like anyway. Book 2 was difficult, I knew that I had to really deliver on the things I'd set up in book 1. Now having edited book 3 and made it ready to publish, and working so hard on book 4 as well as writing Quinn the Assassin, a short story, I don't follow any set schedule. If anything I have been struggling with a few blocks recently, but I am also trying to pace myself. Monday and Tuesday I don't write at all, I watch anime with my son, just to take my mind off what I am doing. I am lucky I have such a great partner, she lets me get on with whatever I am doing and backs me totally, even though she hates Sci-Fi.

Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?

It would be great to still be writing, I have a few short story ideas related to the Zero series which I would like to have completed by then. I have also put down a few other story concepts which I would like to explore in more detail. I think maybe you are asking ... Do I want to be famous? I don't think that's possible for a self published Indy on the Zon. The best I can hope for would be a small but loyal following of people who like action and adventure tempered with science, humour and very dark happenings. When I post samples of my work, the response is usually good, but thats all. This does not translate into sales. I think for the next step to happen ... recognition ... I need to take a deep look inside, and start shouting about my work a little more.

If you could offer once piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?

Keep your head down and stay focused. Initially people will not take you seriously, in this phase only what you and close relatives think actually matters. If you think you have a decent story get it down. You only have to be able to put meat on the bones of your original idea. I didn't tell many people I was writing a book, all of them looked at me sideways, but at no point did I lose faith in my idea. A huge wave of self doubt hit me when the final manuscript was ready for book 1 and it was time to publish. This is a wall only you can break through, or it was for me, I do my own editing so I had no outside feedback on whether the story was any good or not. You have to find some belief in yourself and just do it. Then when the reviews come in, you need to see the bad ones and cherish them, they make the good reviews much more legitimate.

What would you consider to be the best compliment a reader could give your book?

I had a great review from an author called Stephen Ethier, we did a review for review, and after reading his book The Void revealed, I was filled with doubt that Stephen would like mine. His book was so intricately woven, a few levels above mine which is quite linear by comparison. The result was the best review I have ever had. What follows is just part of what he wrote, and I was blown away.

"It is apparent that the author is an expert at describing the inner workings of alien technology with such detail that the devices become real world believable. You will be wondering if the author has some hidden source of technical information that the rest of us are not privy to."

I was not expecting that ... Not at all, but it makes me feel better about the late nights and missed meals.

What are you working on now?

Since lock down I have gone into hyper focus mode. I have edited and finished a darker version of Quinn the Assassin, a short story which fleshes out the backstory of the main protagonist from book 1. He is a major thorn in Zero's side and writing his character I felt sorry for him, but also I was in awe of him, so I felt his story deserved to be told. The first version was a bit of a joke, but it showed me what I didn't want. I did salvage some of the latter chapters, but the front end was completely rewritten. I also introduce Khaalida, the "Woman" who adopts Quinn. She is one of my favourite characters in the series.

In addition I have edited book 3, a prequel which follows Zero before he finds the circle of numbers. This has since gone to my proofreader, a really nice lady who runs a publishers clearing house and works for biscuits. She does not do Sci-Fi but I think I've converted her judging by her excitement to receive new manuscripts and read them first.

Right now I am trying to hammer out book 4 which goes right back to the start. This book has been a joy apart from frequent stoppages. I wrote a third of it in one month back in 2017 and then left it until this year to continue. Such a break presents a mild challenge, if only because I had to get back into the mindsets of each of the new characters.  I am aiming to get Quinn, book 3, Zero - Earth Fall and Book 4, Zero - Alternate Earth (Working title, maybe not final) out this year.

Then I just have to do book 5, this will come back to the present time and characters from all books will be mashed together to fight a new foe.

 

Book 1 - Zero - Earth

Super soldier, super spy ... Alien odd job man.
Gray Albern, alias agent Zero is a busy man as together with his boss and friend Geyldian, an alien clone human hybrid, they attempt to prevent the human race from making leaps which might destroy the planet or themselves. It’s a mission the circle of Numbers has been looking after for eons ever since their creators the Devine evacuated Earth, moving onward to a new home world.
Now everyone’s job is about to get harder still as the humans inadvertently give away the position of planet Earth to an old foe of the Devine.
In a feud which has run for millions of years across the cosmos, the Khai-mah are on their way. Their aim? ... To e
xtinguish the Devine, their neighbours of old and expand across the universe, possessing all that they find and killing any race that would dare to stand in their way.

At a time when the cloned caretakers of the planet were just beginning to allow the humans to progress technologically at a faster rate, with the goal of shepherding the planets indigenous race toward an enlightened state similar to their own, news that the Khai-mah have found the tiny blue planet couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The humans aren’t ready, the caretakers know what’s coming but they aren’t ready either, having stagnated technologically since their arrival to planet Earth.
Only Zero can stand in the way of the Khai-mah, but he has problems all of his own…

To Buy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BKMRTCF

 

Book 2 - Zero - Earth Fire

In their never-ending quest to wipe out the Devine and gain ground, the Khai-mah finally arrive to take the Earth by force. Only Zero, Joan, Wraith and the Numbers stand in their way. Development of new craft and weaponry continues which will give humanity a fighting chance. With Joan appointed as human ambassador, she stubbornly refuses to shield Humanity from the Khai-mah threat.

Bonds of unity form all over the planet … Now is not the time for petty squabbles. Nothing ever runs smoothly, and as Khai incursions grow more frequent and vicious, Zero makes a dark realisation. With parts of the planet turned into molten wasteland, Wraith attempts to convince Joan to take the ultimate risk and extend the hand of friendship. This sends a ripple of discord through the hive.

Halting any further advance, the forces of Earth stand toe to claw with the marauding Khai. All the while trouble looms as the Khai Object continues its steady approach. But something else is coming … Something equally deadly, from much closer to home …

To Buy:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086HTXFKH

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