This month, Brian shares his latest release along with his writing background and influences.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I started dreaming about being a writer when I was in high school. I loved books. I remember going to the paperback racks at the grocery store and just staring at all the book covers. The artwork inspired me to imagine the stories inside each book. I saw books as parallel worlds you can travel into, escape from every day reality. In high school I wanted to be the next Stephen King. I attempted my first novel, writing by hand on a yellow tablet. My wrist got tired, so I quit after about five pages. My freshman year in college I learned to type on Microsoft Word and that made writing much easier for me. At age 19, I wrote my first full-length horror novel and the feeling of accomplishment was such a rush. It was like this story just poured out of my soul. I had so much fun just letting my imagination run wild and making up this imaginary world. I created a group of characters who were like real people to me, living in an alternate universe. After writing all semester and completing my first novel, I was hooked. A novelist was born. I changed majors from business finance to creative writing and screenwriting. From that day on I was determined to make a living writing and publishing novels.
Even though I write mostly supernatural horror and suspense, I love writing cross-genre novels that include mystery, romance, and history, as well. My first novel, Shadows in the Mist, which is set during World War II, is very much a war novel interwoven with a supernatural mystery based on the Nazis and the Occult. There are scary moments, as well as an adventure story about an infantry platoon leader and his platoon who have to cross enemy lines to fulfill a top-secret mission. I also included espionage and conspiracy theory to drive the plot, so it’s very complex. I’m a big fan of Dean Koontz who is a master at mixing genres and giving his readers a multidimensional book. That’s my aim, as well. While my publisher categorizes my novel as horror, the story encompasses much more than just your typical horror novel. I’ve been surprised by how many readers who don’t read horror have told me how much they enjoyed the book. I think of Shadows in the Mist as more of an adventure novel with a supernatural mystery and lots of suspense, and hopefully a wider audience that includes men and women can enjoy the book.
Q: Who would you say has influenced you the most?
I’ve already mentioned two of my influences, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. A couple of others are Robert R. McCammon and John Saul. When I was a teen, I read a good number of their books and studied how each of these four authors wrote fast-moving action and scary scenes. I modeled each of them, especially Dean Koontz. I wanted my stories to grip the reader from the first page and not let go until the last page. As an adult I got to learn from John Saul at a writer’s retreat, and when I was struggling to finish my novel, he encouraged me to keep writing, saying, “Just finish the damn book!” John Saul gave me the motivation I needed to stick with my dream of being a published author. I was also greatly influenced by movies. When I was a kid, from age five on up, I used to watch monster movies with my mom every weekend. That was before cable or DVD’s. I remember every Saturday and Sunday one of our local stations aired back-to-back creature features: classic monster movies like Dracula and The Wolfman and Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as Sci-Fi movies like Day of the Triffids and Island of Dr. Moreau. I loved monsters and the adrenaline I felt being scared. My love for horror movies eventually led me to reading scary books and that opened up a whole new experience for me. Instead of watching people on screen running from monsters, I was suddenly inside the head of a character, feeling as if the monsters were after me. As a reader, I got the full visceral experience of being the hero. Reading novels also activated my imagination, and I began to dream up my own stories.
Q: Do you write everyday? How much time do you spend on your writing?
I don’t write every day. I wish I did, but I’m not a full-time author just yet. I still have another career as a video editor/producer, which can be demanding at times, so I spend some weeks focused on earning the paycheck. Sometimes my personal life can offer it’s own distractions, like the car needing to get fixed. Also, now that I have a novel out, I spend several hours each week focused on book promotion and corresponding with readers. I get a lot more emails than I used to. I also write a blog “Coaching for Writers” which offers tips to writers on how to be more successful. So for now I write in stages. When I’m in between projects, which is every couple of weeks, I focus on my book writing. Some weeks I get up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. and write for a three hours before work. When not working on a video project, I’ll write all day for a week to ten days straight, writing as fast as my hands can type. On average, I probably write 10 to 15 days a month, just not all in a row. As a part-time writer once said to me, “I write in between the margins of life.”
Q: What will your next book be about?
My next novel, Dead of Winter, is nearly complete. I’ve been writing and doing research on it for two and a half years. It is also a historical horror novel, this time set in