Today we have a guest on the blog! Graeme Brown is joining us to talk about writing, inspiration and his new release, The Pact. Thanks so much for joining us, Graeme, and happy book birthday!
Tell me about yourself and the books you write.
I would call myself an adventurous soul. Very artistic, but also a designer at heart. This has led me to study math and computer programming, and has led to several years making a living as a free-lance web designer. All of these things, though, feel auxiliary and add to my desire to express; writing is my heart.
I have been a story-teller since I was old enough to talk. I have a very active imagination. All it took for me was the discovery of Tolkien, then some of the other masters after him, to realize what I wanted to do with that imagination.
I write because I have a world full of stories, and I want to share it with people. But I quickly learned that this “writing” isn’t just about sitting down and putting pen to page (or phosphors to screen). It’s an active process of development, refinement, and it takes commitment. So, I guess you could say I write because I know if I want to get those stories out, I need to get myself in shape. For example, The Pact was my first story, something small where I could learn how to hold a tale together; my current work, a novel, is a little more complex, but I have intentionally grounded it in one POV so that I can learn how to succeed with a story about one character before moving onto the next novel, which will have many.
· Describe your hero in three words.
Naïve, frightened, betrayed
· Do you have any Works in Progress?
A Thousand Roads, the above-mentioned novel, has been in progress since November. I began it as a longer novella for NaNoWriMo, but quickly discovered it was a different sort of beast. I am moving into the last quarter and expect, after it has gone through beta readers and some polishing, to have it submitted by the fall.
· What inspired The Pact and Will?
I attended a workshop on outlining which really struck home. I had never understood outlining before this. Usually, I just started at the beginning, and this was always the beginning of a very long story that I was hopelessly lost in by page 100. One of the topics stressed at this workshop was the prudence of starting with a short story and getting some credit before moving to something ambitious.
The following morning, while walking to work, I tried to think of the one-sentence premise we learned is the main container for a good outline. Several came to me, but one really stuck. I met two boys, both brothers, who lived next to the mountains, a place full of goblins and trolls and wicked creatures who were going to come and destroy their home. As I followed the steps for expanding the outline, I stayed grounded in one of them, the frightened, cowardly one, and soon the rest of the tale started taking shape around him.
Doubting myself. I am by far my worst critic, and I’m very sensitive to criticism. If it wasn’t for the encouragement of a good friend, who is a fan of George R. R. Martin, I would have put ThePact away. Taking the risk and submitting – having to believe in myself – was a big step and it helps me even now while I am writing The Pact’s sequel as I deal with a story that’s ten times more complex. But I’ve learned that, when it comes to writing, I’m not bad at it, and, more importantly, because I love it so much and I do it every day, I’m always getting better. I’ve learned to have good beta readers, and my partner, Craig, is a great support by giving me fresh feedback on each chapter as I finish.
· When did you know you were a storyteller?
Very recently. It was the follow-up to becoming an author and getting into a daily writing routine that I realized, amidst full-time studies and ambition to be a mathematician, that writing is the thing I would choose, if I could only choose one. Basically, I’m in the position now that, given every opportunity I can, financially speaking, I would like to invest more in the writing life. I am extremely disciplined, and like to have structure in how I work, and, being a lover of organization, there would be nothing neater than starting the “Office for the epic.” That would be cool, and a life dream realized.
· Who is your favorite author? Who inspired you?
That changes with time. Usually, I encounter a new author every couple of years and am profoundly altered. The first was Tolkien, who created a yearning that led to the fantasy world I’ve been developing for the last seventeen years. Next it was Robert Jordan, who showed me how to deepen the narrative landscape of an epic. Lastly, and most recently, George R. R. Martin came along and, though studying his prose, I discovered a tone very similar to mine; in the process of reading him, I had that epiphany every writer hopes to have, where I finally figured out how to connect to my voice, so that, when I sit down and write, it’s not just words coming out on the page – it’s a drama unfolding that’s as real as anything else.
· Quick Questions:
Coffee or Tea? Coffee, and LOTS of it!
Plotter or Pantser? A bit of both. I like to plot the best way to pull the pants down
Traveler or Writing Cave Dweller? Traveler (seeking out a good cave-tour for places to write in)
Ebook or Paper? Paper
Favorite color? Green
Favorite movie? The King’s Speech
Cats or Dogs? Cats
Night or Day? Hmm...depends on my mood
· What is your daily writing routine? What do you do when writer’s block strikes?
I write every day. The exception is sometimes on weekends, when it my self-imposed rule to take a break (I am a recovering work-a-holic). Usually, I write in the earlier part of the day, or else I find, with my many blog and school commitments, writing gets shoved aside.
When writer’s block strikes, I strike back. I find that having a good outlining strategy presents many ways to overcome writing block. When I can’t think of what to write next, I will look at my notes, ask questions about what I’ve just written. Sometimes this means the cursor goes back several pages. Other times I might pop ahead to the frames for scenes to come. Something always jogs me and several dozen new words come out. Usually it’s more than that, but on rough days, this process means that, if I don’t turn out a lot of new words, at least I have spent time developing the draft.
· Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers?
I’m grateful for your love of reading. One of the biggest struggles I face when I think about the time spent as a writer is the feeling that it’s irrelevant. I have to quiet that little voice that tells me I should get a real job and contribute something useful. Why should someone get paid to write stories? It’s impractical.
Readers are the evidence against this. You never know what impact a book is going to have on someone, how it might shape their world. It could be the comfort needed during a hard time, it could be the insight that helps someone get out of a slump. It might be just plain fun, in which case, poo-poo to those who think there are better things to do in life than enjoy it.
Thank you, readers, for being the cheer that’s helped me to be who I really am, that’s given me the courage to give this passion me all. All the hard work I do, I do for you.
Thanks, Virg, for this opportunity to share. It’s been great working with you, and I look forward to our next project together.
Thank you for stopping by the blog!!