Well dear readers, this is a first for me. An interview with a real live writer.
Bryan is a friend of mine, host of the #sffwrtcht, and newly published author of The Worker Prince.
Me: So Bryan, you have a book coming out soon. How long have you been writing?
Bryan: I started writing in 3rd grade actually. A friend from school and I would write fan stories based on “The Littles” children books about the little people with tails.
Me: I remember those! lol there was a cartoon also
Bryan: And I was always creating stuff, orchestrating these play scenarios with my friends on the playground and such. Mom says I never played with a toy the same way twice.
Me: interesting. Do you think a lot of authors do the same thing?
Bryan: Perhaps. I think when you start out immitation is a big part of the learning process. You learn to replicate what you like and then analyse that to figure out how it works.Then you apply those things you learned to original ideas.
Me: So at a young age you started applying story lines and characters to various situations
Bryan: Yes, exactly.
Me: And then played them out to see what happened or did you have a plan each time?
Bryan: As I recall, you know it’s been a while ago, I would have it all planned out and try and get people to do what I wanted to make that happen. I think I got frustrated when they wouldn’t do what i could picture in my head.I know my mom remembers me doing that with toys. I’d be mad at them for not being capable of what I could imagine. Damn toys!
Me: Oh no you were a plotter from the beginning?
Bryan: Well, let’s just say Oliver Stone wouldn’t have liked me…
Me: So even as a kid you had a plan for your stories. How did that develop into the writing you do now?
Bryan: I definitely have always been good at thinking through all the possible courses of actions and outcomes of various scenarios. I knew what moved me. What excited me. What made me come back for me. And I’d try stuff out on my family and friends to get a reaction. And then I got hooked and tried to find ways to create stories to engender the same responses. Like Little House On the Prairie was a tearjerker in our house. It just was moving and powerful TV. And I wanted to touch people like that, speak to them that way. I loved books and stories that moved me that way.
Me: Hmmm oddly I don’t see you as a LHOtP viewer. But I can see the appeal emotionally. They definitely pull in emotions
Bryan: Oh I own the first season and the highlights DVDs I love that stuff. Damn show still makes me cry. Gilmore Girls did too. Damn those family shows. BUT I wrote my book to be for all ages for a reason. And my love of shows the whole family can enjoy, books everyone can read, comes in part from that.
Me: So The Worker Prince is an all ages book. Correct? What in your opinion makes it a book for all ages?
Bryan: It’s a book which is appropriate for readers of all ages. Probably 8 and up. Maybe 10. The violence is not over the top and all essential to the story. No sex. No foul language. The characters are developed but there’s a clear good guy hero whom one can admire. And the story is inspirational and full of hope. It’s a positive story that diverts from so much SF which is darker like the world around us these days. Kids get enough darkness on the news or out the window. This is a story wherein they can escape and look at bright possibilities for the future and the best in fellow man. I fell in love with SF as a kid around age 8. So providing that experience for others is important to me as an author
Me: are you afraid you are going to lose any of the potential adult audience by making sure your book is readable to kids?
Bryan: No. Because the adults have loved it as much or more than the kids. It’s in touch with the Golden Age vibe so many fans grew up on. And like Star Wars, which was an inspiration for the approach and feel I used to tell the story, it will appeal to a broad base. The age and sophistication of the reader changes the depth on which they appreciate the story, perhaps, but not the fact they’ll appreciate it. At least that’s what readers tell me
Me: lol Kind of like Sesame Street. I watched it as a kid, but when my kids began to watch it there was a new complexity I never knew of
Bryan: Exactly. At least, that’s what I hope to accomplish. There’s a level of political and emotional manuevering in the book which kids may not get. And there’s no cool puppets, but I have a couple major alien supporting characters and some interesting worldbuilding. And I hope the book inspires deeper questions in adults which make them think about the world and themselves. But mostly it’s about entertaining them, helping them escape. And adults need that as much or more than kids these days.
Me: Very true. So give us a breif premise of your book (because I’m a bad reviewr and haven’t read it yet)
Bryan: It’s Moses meets Star Wars. Two warring factions flee Earth to colonize the stars. By a twist of fate, they wind up neighbors in a far solar system and one enslaves the other. Years later, the prince of the enslavers discovers he’s secretly slave-born and was adopted by his princess mother. When he sets out to find out what that means for who he is, he discovers what life is like for the slaves. It’s far worse than they’d been taught in school and the traditional justifications just don’t seem to fit the realities. He begins questioning and thus comes into conflict with his family and friends, especially his uncle who runs the enslaving alliance, the Boralian Alliance
Me: Interesting. 😀 So do you have plans on continuing the story line?
Bryan: Well yes, it’s a trilogy. Although The Worker Prince is intentionally written with a sense of closure so it could stand alone if need be. Since book 2 is a chapter away from being finished, however, I don’t think it’ll have to
Me: Good. So when do you think the second will be out?
Bryan: Summer 2012 That’s the publisher’s target
Me: wow pretty quick. How long does it take you to draft a story?
Bryan: Well, with or without multiple life crises going on during?
Me: lol well
Bryan: Worker Prince was written first draft from August 15, 2009 through mid-November. I did subsequent polishing drafts, etc. working with first independent editors I hired and then the publisher’s people. I started “The Returning” in February and am still trying to finish. But in between my now ex-wife was hospitalized five times with major issues, we got divorced, I moved across the country, and I remained 18 months unemployed. So when I’m not stressed, the answer is 3-4 months. When I have life issues distracting focus and sleep, longer.
Me: Dang that is fast
Bryan: I can pretty much tell you what I’ll be writing through next summer though. I have tons of thing slined up
Me: I think my second novel took 6 months
Bryan: Well that’s first draft. Not revisions
Me: How long does the revision process take, and what does that entail.
Bryan: Well, if I am working from an editor’s notes, it entails addressing issues such as character arc flaws, wordy prose, unclear prose, repetitive word usage, story holes, lack of description, etc. My own editing process involves putting the first draft aside for at least a month, then coming back and reading it with fresher eyes where I look at character arcs, etc. but also add a lot of emotional language and description to puff it up. My first drafts thus become shorter than my second drafts. And I also do a third pass just to cut extraneous words and adverbs.
Me: Kill the adverbs… are we ever worried that they will become extinct?
Bryan: I don’t know. I really think they’re lovely little words
Me: *snicker* I bet you do. So who’s the cast of this adventure?
Bryan: Well, there’s the nutty cohost, Sarah… Oh wait, my book?
Bryan: The Prince is called Davi Rhii and he’s the hero, protagonist. Pretty much central, with more scenes and focus than anyone else. Close behind is his uncle, the antagonist Lord Xalivar (pronounced Zall ih var) who is the High Lord Counselor of the Boralian Alliance. And is ruling where his father and grandfather ruled before him. Davi’s adoptive mother is Xalivar’s sister Miri. And then you have his school pals Farien Noa and Yao Brahma, who is a purple skinned, red eyed alien from Tertullis.Wait. Oops Orangish skin. Purple eyes. Sorry Too many aliens to remember
Me: you don’t have a cheat sheet over there?
Bryan: Actually, yeah, I looked it up to be sure. LOL [9/27/2011 7:57:07 PM] Sarah Hendrix: hehehe
Me: So Bryan, besides The Worker Prince are you working on?
Bryan: I’m not working in that world as much lately. A few things got temporarily displaced from my active mind. I am editing an anthology of SPACE BATTLES stories for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. I am also working on a sequel short story for that from the Worker Prince world. I am working on the two sequels. I have epic fantasy and urban fantasy books 1s in the works and I have 12 short stories to finish out my North Star Serial which has been running the last year in Digital Dragon magazine online
Me: I’ll plug in websites in on those later. And after that?
Bryan: http://www.digitaldragonmagazine.net or .com I believe After that, if I’m still selling stories, I hope to reach full time writer status. I don’t know. I have a Brazilian future steampunk book as well. But those projects will tie me up well into the Fall of next year
Me: So you are quite a busy guy and then pile on everything with the #sffwrtcht
Bryan: Uh yes, I don’t know how I could actually have a real job and do all this. I am perpetually behind as it is. Now if some of this could just generate income…
Me: Well hopefully The Worker Prince will be a major hit. Just a few more questions. What is your favorite part of this story
Bryan: Yes, indeed. Help a brother out people. Buy a million copies. I’ll have money to buy your books, really I will. Which story? Worker Prince?
Bryan: I do like the subplot romance. It’s a fun storyline. I wrote three major strong heroines for the story and all of them have interesting interactions with the other characters. They are not pushovers at all.
Me: Good we like strong female leads
Bryan: They stand up for themselves and make it hard for both the protagonist and antagonist. But I am probably partial to the coming of age and finding who he is story because I relate so well to it as an adopted child and as a person who’s having to start life e over myself right now
Me: What advice would you give to writers
Me: You know, John Pitts gave probably the best advice I’ve ever heard on #sffwrtcht. Musicians have to practice every day. Why shouldn’t writers? So I say, don’t just talk about writing or sit around imagining stories. Do it. Write. And send it out to friends and strangers. Get reactions. Then write again. You will only learn by doing it. So you must do it daily and keep at it until you succeed. I wanted to be a writer since 3rd grade. Although I had some screenplays in development twenty years ago, nothing got made. I gave up and went out and did other things for a while. I had limited success as a musician for a few years. Then that dried up. Now 27 years after I first conceived of this story, it’s going to be a novel. Perserverance matters. As does work.
Me: exactly. Even though I don’t always get things on page
Bryan: Oh and never ask Sarah Hendrix to beta read unless being a bloody steak in a shark pit appeals to you. Just kidding.
Me: lol Hey I warned you 😉
Bryan: Althought you know Sky Course gets published as my first semi-pro published sale Saturday And that’s the WP prequel [9/27/2011 8:12:35 PM] Sarah Hendrix: where will it be published Residential Aliens. Resaliens.com I believe October issue [9/27/2011 8:12:54 PM] Sarah Hendrix: nice And you definitely helped me with that one…
Me: well thank you
Bryan: I eliminated the fat from the steak ha ha
Good luck to you Bryan.