Hello out there. The month of October is underway, a favorite time of year among horror writers. A perfect time to interview author A.J. Brown!
First I would like to announce that I appreciate all the support from those who regularly view this blog, so I held a Facebook contest last month for 2 free copies of my short story collection Quick Fix: A Taste Of Terror. The winners were Angela Pritchett and Aniko (aka The Happy Horror Writer). Congrats, guys! And thanks to everyone who entered!
Now onto the interview…
When and why did you begin writing?
When? I can’t remember, to be honest with you. Why? Again, I can’t remember. I wrote jokes and little satire-type things for years before I actually started writing fiction and that goes way back to high school, when I hated writing in and of itself.
A few months ago I read Along the Splintered Path, and I immediately recognized your strength as an author: great characterization. You really know how to show the world through your characters’ eyes. Do you have any tricks or rituals for getting into the mindset to write from different points of view?
This is going to sound weird, but when I am in pain I try to describe it to myself. If I’m throwing up, I try to remember exactly how I felt before, during and after, right down to the sudden burst of sweat and heat on my face. I do this type of thing for all of my emotions and during certain events that take place. Then I try to incorporate those feelings and sensations into the characters as I write them. It is those little nuances that I think bring characters to life. A lot of times the characters dictate what happens, so I think it is more of them getting inside my head and whispering, ‘hey, do this,’ or ‘hey, I wouldn’t talk that way.’ The biggest key when writing–at least for me–is to try and make the characters feel as real as possible, as if you could picture them doing what they do as the stories unfold. Sometimes I succeed. Other times, not so much.
Who inspires you? Are there any authors, artists, musicians, or special people who drive you creatively?
The obvious answer is Stephen King and that is also one of the truer statements I can make, but let me tell you: my children inspire me more and more. Several of the stories I have written over the years are a direct result from things my children have said or done. As far as music, holy cow, pick something. Music may be the single largest contribution to my imagination.
You just released a short story collection, Southern Bones. I read it, and I think it’s fantastic. Did you write these stories specifically for this collection, or were they previously published in other venues? When did you decide to put Southern Bones together?
Southern Bones came about because I got mad. Pretty simple reason. I had inquired with several places about putting out another short story collection. At the time there were eight places taking single author anthologies. Only one of them contacted me (within a couple of days of me e-mailing them). It was pretty much, ‘hey are you so and so?’ and me saying, ‘yeah, that’s me.’
That was the end of the contact.
It was disheartening, but after I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I got mad. Southern Bones became my outlet, my way of saying I don’t need nor want a publisher. I stopped submitting work to publishers and started looking at trying to put something out myself. I did a ton of research on collections and how to put them together. Then came the real work: selecting the stories. Southern Bones is a mixture of previously published stories that you can no longer find out there and original unpublished work. None of the stories in the collection were written specifically for it, though I started to write all new pieces, but time and life just weren’t cooperating.
One of the stories that stood out to me was “There Aint No Heroes Round Here”. I kept waiting for something supernatural to happen, but the true horror was in how vividly you described a real life situation. What made you write this story?
A storm in mid-February that was so strong we thought it was a tornado ripping through our town. My family and I were the parts that were in the grocery store. The woman wanting to get home to her precious kittens actually walked out into the storm. My son did laugh at me when I got soaked running from the car to the building. It was scary and it wasn’t a tornado at all. As we walked around the store, I watched people and listened to conversations and the story started to take shape. When I got home I jotted a ton of notes down and it just sort of blossomed from there.
Is there any particular story in this collection that was hard to write or troubled you in some way? If so, how did you overcome it?
Not really. It was harder choosing the stories than writing them. If anything, subject matter became an issue with some of them, trying to make sure that similar stories didn’t go in. I had to choose stories based on themes, which meant certain pieces were left out to make sure no two stories were the same.
I recently picked up a copy of Midnight Echo Magazine (Issue 7 to be exact). I enjoyed your story “Just Some Good Old Boys Sitting Around the Fire Talking Shit”. It was a character-driven piece and played out in my mind’s eye like a short film. What inspired this story?
I’m from a family of ‘good old boys’ and that’s what they do. They sit around drinking beer, talking smack and telling lies. Most subjects aren’t off limits, including spouses and girlfriends. The problem is when you drink like some of my family does, you tend to think you are ten foot tall and bulletproof. Lips get loose and things are said. In this case, the alcohol was like fire on kindling and the more the MC’s wife came up, the madder hotter he got and the higher the flames of anger went. That particular story is one of my favorites.
Where else can we find your work (magazines, anthologies, etc)?
My zombie series (yes, we all have a series, don’t we?) can be found at Tales of the Zombie War. http://www.talesofworldwarz.com/stories/tag/dredging-up-memories-series/
Along the Splintered Path can be found at Amazon for Kindle:
And in print:
What does the future hold for AJ Brown? Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Ten years from now, I have no clue. Best Seller list? Hopefully. The near future holds two novels to go along with the collection, plus a print version of Southern Bones that will have a few little extras in it, including the first chapter of Cory’s Way, a novel I hope to have out in the next six months or so.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t touched on in these questions?
As much as I want to say please support the little guys and gals, I want to touch on something else. If you own a Kindle and you purchase a book, please do read it, and when you are done, please leave a review. Book reviews are important. They are the engine that powers the car. They are a vital component in getting other people to buy the books. Also, if you like a book–and not just mine, but anyone’s–make sure and spread the word. You never know when you might help someone get over the hump and get ‘discovered.’
Where can we find you on the web?
On Facebook is where you can get in touch with me fairly easily. But I do have a blog/website, Type AJ Negative, where you can find out the goings on of me and Herbie and all of those other personalities running around my head.