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Q & A with Axl Barnes (Stillborn Gallery)

The title alone sounds horrifying and what you’ll find inside is no different. These horror stories are on the extreme side so if you trigger easily this book is not for you. Take a look at my Q & A with Axl Barnes featuring his latest book Stillborn Gallery.


Let’s dig into your latest release Stillborn Gallery.

Where did your inspiration for this book come from?

The experience of having a few friends commit suicide or die young from various causes, family members struggling with mental or physical illness, as well as my encounter with depression and anxiety disorder. In your own words, can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Death is not something that occurs at the end of life, but it is a noose strangling the core of life. Philosopher Emil Cioran claimed that through our sense of agony we can become aware of death's immanence in life. In this collection of short stories, I explore different areas in which death's supremacy over life is most explicit: sickness, alienation, loneliness, and unrestricted consciousness or unbound lucidity. What about the book title? How did that come about?

The title is a description of the characters portrayed in the book who, given their tragic destiny and hopeless outlook, are already dead or zombified. This book aims at blurring the distinction between being dead and being alive to the point that everyone in it appears born dead, trapped in the limbo of a ghostly, dissociated existence. What story is your favorite?

Night Soil. What was your favorite part about writing Stillborn Gallery?

I enjoyed writing detailed descriptions of the more gruesome and sordid parts to create a deeply unsettling and visceral experience for the reader. Which character was most challenging to create?

The more important female characters, Tanya in Night Soil and Evelyn in Sunday Exit, were a bit more challenging to write as I tried to get women's psychology right and offer a realistic portrait. Based on the positive reviews I got from female readers, I think I did a decent job. Which of the characters do you relate to the most?

The main character in Sunday Exit (left unnamed) and Jeremy in Dead Seed. Any challenges that you faced while writing this?

No, it went very smoothly. Did you edit anything out of this book?

At the end of Dead Seed, there was a full-fledged rape scene that I decided to turn into a crotch rot scene to avoid antagonizing female readers too much and because the crotch rot fit the message of the story better. Stillborn Gallery falls on the extreme side of horror to me. What made you decide to write that genre?

It's not a conscious decision, just the way my brain works. I don't care much for fantasy, sci-fi, or romance. I was always into dark, disturbing, sick, and twisted stuff. This may seem like a silly question considering the genre but is there anything that you would say is “off limits” when you’re writing? A topic that you would never include in any of your books.

No. Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?

Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. I'm inspired by both the music and the imagery characteristic of this sub-genre of black metal. The story Natasha Suicide is an explicit homage to DSBM and the poem "Too Late for Suicide," featured in Sunday Exit, was initially written for a DSBM local band. Some iconic acts in this sub-genre are Shining, Psychonaut 4, Nocturnal Depression, Xasthur, Forgotten Tomb, Life is Pain, and so on. If you had to be a character in this book which one would you pick?

In a way, I am all of them.

Illustration for Night Soil by Artist Thomas Stetson

The artwork that is included in this book is amazing. I like how each piece goes with the story. What can you tell us about that?

Yeah, I had a great collaboration with visionary underground artist Thomas Stetson. The intricate, nightmarish, gruesome sights depicted in his work complement and amplify the visceral effect of my stories.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with readers?

I'm working on a novel called This Town Must Burn, a collection of short stories called Strangled Epitaphs as well as putting together a zombie anthology exploring the political dimension of the zombie archetype.

That's all the questions I have for now. Thank you for taking the time to share more information on your latest book.

Don't forget to grab your copy of Stillborn Gallery

Author Axl Barnes

Axl Barnes is a horror writer and philosopher from Edmonton, Canada. His novella Ich Will and first novel Odin Rising are available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback. He's currently working on his second novel, This Town Must Burn, and several sick and twisted short stories. For more information and free content visit Stay up to date with the latest on Axl's work. Amazon | Website | Instagram

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