Please welcome author J.D. Brink to the blog! He writes across several fun, ambitious genres, and his advice for new writers is universally sound.
If you are interested in being a Guest Author, please check out this page.
- Tell us your name, and a link to where we can find you (blog, Facebook, etc).I write as J. D. Brink (which is also my real name, there’s just more letters involved normally), and my blog is called Fugitives of Purgatory, found at http://www.jdbrinkfugitive.com
I also have a Facebook page (jd.brink3) and have recently gotten onto Goodreads. In fact, I just finished a giveaway for two of my books on there and will have another sometime after New Years.
- How many books have you written? This can include both published and unpublished works. Describe each of them in 1-2 sentences apiece (if published, feel free to include the links as well).I have a total of six published works available, another novel waiting for revision, and a collection of superheroic tales I’m working on now.
* Tarnish is a heroic fantasy novel about a sixteen-year-old young man who sets out into the big bad world to find help for his small home town, which is under siege by monstrous raiders. That may not sound like a terribly original premise but one of the my goals with Tarnish was to intentionally be different from your typical fantasy adventure.* The Prince of Luster and Decay is a novella that takes place about ten years before Tarnish during the World’s Shadow War. It is what I call “sword and soldiery,” as it involves rank and file soldiers and blends some real human aspects into the sword and sorcery excitement.* The Thorne Legacy is a science fiction novella, one part space opera, one part military SF, and one part “black sheep of the family gets his crap straight to save the world.” This story was a finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest last year and is the spring board for a trilogy I’m working on.* A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley is a handful of dark noir-styled tales, ranging from horror to crime to a bit of SF, but all featuring some aspect of darkness. Three of the four stories were professionally published before I collected them together and self-published them into one volume.* And I have two short stories available online, Puppet Theatre (fun superhero short) and Mime (creepy mobster-horror), both free to download from those retailers that allow you to post for free. (Tiny jab at the giant one who doesn’t there…)Various links to all of these can be found on my website/blog http://www.jdbrinkfugitive.comAs you can see, I enjoy reading and writing in a wide range of fiction genres, though pretty much all of my writing has some speculative element to it.
- Tell me a little bit about your current WIP.My current work-in-progress is a collection of superhero stories, though again I strive to do something different with them than what readers are used to seeing in spandex. My first story ever published by a magazine was called “Dreams of Flying,” and that’s the title of this collection and the last tale in the book. But the others will go in new radical directions and all five stories will be loosely related to one another. I’ve always been a bit of a comic book geek and this is my way of having fun with that kind of star-spangled universe.
- What does writing preparation look like for you? Do you do full outlines and character profiles, or do you just start with a general idea and write?My writing preparation… Can be a bit chaotic. I’m not sure I have one specific method to my madness. I generally have these stories in my head for a while and they have to incubate there for a while. And after several scribbled bits on napkins, scrap paper, and the backs of other important documents, I’m finally ready to begin writing. I generally start with the first few chapters or scenes figured out, plus a sense of where everything is going to go and how it’ll likely end. I generally stay only a few scenes or chapters ahead of the actual writing and it all develops as it goes, though I do fill in outlines and character sketches as I go. It’s all a kind of organic, natural evolution that way.
- Editing is a challenge for many writers. Give us some of your tips for editing efficiently and well.Editing sucks. Oops, did I say that out loud? No really, editing is difficult and I’m not sure I can offer much for insights. My first draft I strive to just write and not look back. Then when I come through again I try to thin it out (as you can tell from this interview, I can get wordy) and catch the things that changed through story evolution. I believe it’s vital to find someone else to look it over too, as a writer’s own eyes are far too biased, but that’s sometimes hard to find. Everyone I know is as busy as I am so I have sometimes had to resort to hiring someone online. Not that that’s a bad thing. They are more objective than family and friends and since you’re paying them, they get right to it. It’s actually a good way to go if you don’t mind spending the money.
- Research is another challenge writers face, but is an important part of the writing process. What are some of your research tips?Research tips? Well, uh… I guess that’s why I write in worlds I can create myself, to minimize the need for research. When I come across something I do need to know more about, though, I certainly look into it, mostly online. Though having those researched bits of realism and detail do make your stories come alive.
- if you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked the best for you? What was the least helpful?Marketing is my biggest challenge. The new self-publishing revolution is a two-edged sword: while we don’t have to appease the big publishing gatekeepers anymore, neither does anyone else; therefore you’re one of a bazillion people out there now all trying to get readers’ attentions. And there are just about a bazillion forms of social media and cybersites out there too to set up shop and wave your electronic flag from. The trouble with that is, if you’re spending all that time online trying to keep up with a dozen websites, you’re not getting any writing done. I’ve decided to narrow things down to about three outlets that I’m willing to put time into. The rest is just taking away from my writing time. Have I been successful? Not yet. Still waiting to break that “Have you heard of this guy?” barrier.
- What genre do you write in? What are some of the challenges to writing this particular genre well?
As you can tell from my book descriptions, I write in a range of genres, but all with fantastic, “speculative” elements. Some writers and publishers advise against this. They say, “Stick to one genre, be the go-to guy or gal in that one niche,” but I just can’t do that. My stories come in many flavors so, for better or worse, I’m writing in many genres. I have SF and fantasy stories in mind, but also crime, private eye, horror, and even tights-wearing superheroes. My hope is that there are readers like myself who don’t limit themselves to just one genre like the big publishers seem to think, and that if they like my noir-android story they’ll give my military fantasy a try too.
- What advice would you give to a new writer?
I’m not sure I am in a position to be giving anyone advice, to be honest. I can tell you what I do for myself and whether that will liberate me from having a day job or not is yet to be seen.(1) I write what I love, I write for me. There are always big trends that hit and the huge temptation to jump on a bandwagon in the hopes of getting some of that audience, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. If you’re faking it, if you’re writing something that’s not you in order to get scraps from someone else’s table, it’ll show. Those readers know what they like and if you’re not one of them they’ll probably know that too. You can’t fake it. Or even if you can, it would probably be way more work than just doing what’s natural.(2) I haven’t given up on the idea of getting published in magazines and websites yet. While being in this cyber-self-publishing revolution has removed the gates in reaching readers, getting a story in an established publishing outlet certainly reaches more potential readers than my own Facebook page does. Most of my work is too long for magazines, but when I can, I submit. Those things have readers every month. I would suggest other writers consider this too.
- What are your writing, editing, and publishing goals for this year?
My goals for 2014 are to produce two more books: Dreams of Flying, a collection of five superheroic novellas and shorts for adult dreamers, and Dark Places, a military SF/space opera novella (or novel, we’ll see how long it gets) that is part two of my Endless Dark Trilogy. I am also in the midst of my Fugitive Fiction Revolution in which I’m revising and getting new cover art of the first two books of my Thunderstrike Saga, Tarnish and The Prince of Luster and Decay. And realistically, I’ll be lucky to get all that done in a year. I’m also a Navy man and me and my family will be relocating to Japan in the later half of the year, so that will obviously knock out my ability to get any writing done for a month or two. Major life changes are a-comin’.
Pretend I am a publisher. Pitch your work to me in 1-2 paragraphs.
I have a terrible time pitching books and writing blurbs. It’s difficult for me to reduce a 400 page novel down to two paragraphs. (Which might be why I spent an entire year doing just that and ended up self-publishing it.) But I’ll give it a shot:
“When his village is attacked by creatures from Blood Marsh, Billy Cole volunteers to find help. But it’ll take more than a sword and the inspiring (and exaggerated) tales of his heroic idols to survive the harsh world beyond Redfield. He takes the name Wil Thunderstrike, tale spinner and traveling hero, and sets off not only to bring help to his hometown but to begin his own heroic legacy. On Fate’s fickle course, however, sixteen-springs-old Wil Thunderstrike will become a storyteller, adventurer, and thief; discover romance, danger, and betrayal; and return home both a hero and a villain.
“Tarnish challenges the conventions of the heroic fantasy genre. Rather than a story of kings and queens fighting over the fate of the whole world, Tarnish is about one young man deciding the kind of man and hero he’ll become. It questions the nature of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ and wonders about what happens when fame outweighs and virtue and the glory days have ended.”
Thanks again for this opportunity, Sarah, and thanks for reading!