Barry Nugent wrote his first story at the young age of 11, after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, and never looked back. In his spare time he is one of the co-founders of the podcast/website called Geek Syndicate which focuses on all aspects of pop culture.
Barry’s first novel ‘Paladin’ was published in 1999. In 2004 he self published his next story Unseen Shadows: Fallen Heroes, the first in a trilogy of novels. Overcoming the hurdles of being a self published book Fallen Heroes went on to be stocked by several branches of Waterstones, including their flagship store in Piccadilly. In 2011 the Kindle version of Fallen Heroes was released and soon after became a number one bestseller on Amazon. The first issue of the comic adpatation of Fallen Heroes sold out upon in under an hour at its launch .
Barry is currently writing ‘Forgotten Warriors’ the follow up to Fallen Heroes. He lives in Northampton with this partner Sue and their two cats/criminal masterminds Max and Frankie.
Tell us about Fallen Heroes ?
I think with all the different genres and main characters in Fallen Heroes, there’s something for everyone.”
Where did Unseen Shadows come from?
“Unseen Shadows was all set to be the name of my new novel but the more I worked on the story the more I felt that the title was a little too large to fit one book, so I changed the name to Fallen Heroes. However knowing the story would be spread over three books I felt that Unseen Shadows worked better as the overall title for the trilogy and what comes after.
Now with the ongoing work to expand the world and characters created in the novel across different platforms it made sense to bring the term ‘Unseen Shadows’ more to the forefront. I know a lot of people, myself included, sometimes still refer to everything connected to the project as Fallen Heroes but in truth everything being worked on is part of the Unseen Shadows universe of which Fallen Heroes is a part of. It was one of the reasons I redesigned this website to try to reinforce that message.
The really exciting thing for me is how the expanded universe work has affected me as I work on Forgotten Warriors, the second book in the trilogy. I found myself subconsciously referencing events in the expanded universe scripts as if they were canon and then the thought occurred to me ‘Why don’t I just make them canon’. So now every member of the creative team knows that their material is 100% a part of the Unseen Shadows universe and not just a nice little side story with no impact on the events surrounding it. The idea is to expand and enhance the characters lives and relationships within the novels as well introducing new characters, who may go on to appear in future projects. Although the books and expanded titles can be enjoyed independently of each other you will get more insights into the characters by experiencing all the stories across the Unseen Shadows universe. At least that is the plan we are all working towards. You want to know more about the how the Reverend was trained to become the man we see in Fallen Heroes? then read Cy Dethan’s Wrath of God comic. If you’ve ever wondered how did a decorated solider like Clancy Wallencheck become a mercenary then Dan Thompson’s Band of Butchers is for you. Desperate to learn more about cases the Icarus Foundation works on? Alan White’s Empire of Blood audio drama is the place to begin your education.”
Why Transmedia storytelling?
“I’ll wait for the audio version was a phrase I’ve heard several times over the years ago and it caused an idea to take root in my brain. It was the reasons I sought out David Ault to create an audio version of Fallen Heroes. I was always drawn to the concept that whatever was your medium of choice there should be a means by which you could experience the story I was trying to tell.
To be honest a large share of how this came about should go to Nic Wilkinson, who always had this grand scheme of expanding the Unseen Shadows universe for probably about two years now (I’m sure in a past she was an evil genius…ok maybe not wholly evil). Being able to bounce ideas off her and getting her input has been invaluable in making this all work. She also knocked my head together with C Dethan’s who I been skirting around the idea of asking do a spin off comic for some time. There was never a plan to do more than one spin-off comic but Cy coming aboard to do the Reverend spin-off comic Wrath of God really opened the door and suddenly I found myself being contacted by other creative folk wanting to know how they could get involved. It also showed me that the only boundaries to what I’m trying to achieve are those I impose on myself and the creative team. What we are trying to do with Unseen Shadows is embrace the idea that anything is possible.
I’m very lucky to be working with so many talented and great people. I’ve already learnt a hell of a lot from them and I hope that as time unfolds I will get to the chance to work with more people of this caliber.”
“Well I could give you the standard response which is no one wanted to publish my manuscript but I think there was more to it than that. I made some mistakes along the way that I think hampered my chances in the first instance to find a publisher. I didn’t realise those mistakes until I had self-published the book. By self-published I mean I put the book out as a Print on Demand novel via Lulu. I read afterwards that POD isn’t considered, by some, true self-publishing and it’s more vanity publishing. To be honest I’m not too worried with either tagline as they both seem to have a stigma attached to them (although vanity published stuff definitely gets a lot more flack).
When the first draft of Fallen Heroes was finished it was over 200,000 words and I pitched it as a multi–genre novel (another bad idea as I learnt that publishers like to know exactly where a book will fit into the marketplace in terms of genre). I pitched this first draft for about a year with no luck. I received some feedback telling me that the book was way too long for a first time novel. I worked on the book over the next eighteen months and edited it down to a more manageable 130,000 words, which was probably still a little long. I heard about Print on Demand and Lulu and went straight into that avenue as I wanted to get the book out there.
I was not prepared for the negative views on Print on Demand or Self-Publishing I encountered. I really did not think it would be a problem publishing in this manner. I think my attitude came from the comics world where there didn’t seem to be the same level of stigma and bad press that a self-published novel used to get.
I told myself I had a choice. I could move forward or I could write-off Fallen Heroes and move onto to the next book. I choose to soldier on.
The goal I set myself was to produce a book that is if someone picked it off a shelf in, say, Waterstone’s, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and any other book on the shelf.
Looking back now I wouldn’t change anything but I think I should have tried pitching the final edit around a bit more before going the POD route. I do find it interesting that in the while working with the Unseen Shadows creative team on moving the stories into other mediums, like comics, audio and live action I’ve haven’t experiences any of that stigma.”
Barry Nugent, author of Fallen Heroes and founder of Unseen Shadows Ltd