A very warm welcome to the third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with novelist and screenwriter Brian Price. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello Brian. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Brian: Whoever I was and whatever I was doing changed instantly after visiting Tofino British Columbia. I had just moved to Vancouver from Ottawa in a business transfer and Tofino was a bit of sight seeing in my new home territory. Extraordinary – nature wild and stunning and man the beast with corporate-return thinking and the utter loneliness of the place. I know now, more than a decade later, that it was one of the few times in my life that I can say I genuinely understood God. I had to write about it.
Morgen: They say write about what you know. I don’t, I only like to kill people legally. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Brian: Fiction novels are my primary vehicle though Vancouver can spoil you – it is hard not to think film, the industry is so prevalent. My first book finished, I tried a screenplay adaptation and fell in love with the power of a play format that conveniently ignores form for the sake of telling a story. Now I do both but my last three projects have been novels. In the short of it, Media/Culture/Technology and ‘Where are we?’ with some element of contemporary romance in that there are relationships.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Brian: Nothing published – yet. But lots of shopping which is a process that makes you stronger in your craft. I have done light marketing in the traditional sense of branding for the books and myself but the real story is that I am now living that writer’s life which is a complete statement. My life is my work. Eventually this sandwich board I am walking around with will reveal a body of work that is growing and maturing into its audience. The current ethos suggests you pretty much have to stop writing if marketing and selling is what you really want – that component is 24/7 and now I see why an active agent is so important.
Morgen: “My life is my work” definitely strikes a chord with me. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Brian: No I don’t and yes it is vital. When this book is finished I may focus on getting an agent but I think I am one more work away before I am ready to step out and really try to make it happen.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Brian: No time. Personally I am not a believer yet. I agree it is a channel that is growing but there is no substance to the movement. Where is the practical convenience for a serious reader?
Morgen: I’m on the side of both. I think we’ll have both formats; paperbacks / hardbacks for home, eBooks for travelling / holidays (although that’s perhaps a rather simplistic view). What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Brian: If this is ‘validation’ the first time someone introduced to me their friends as a writer. Now it is who I am. The ‘thrill’ I think is equal to the struggle and my identity made the transition very quickly. Living in an area heavily populated by an arts crowd was invaluable to my sense of identity. Getting published and making one bazillion dollars would be a thrill but I know that is an empty reward for the artist but an active measure in the western world.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Brian: Cry and drink a lot then continue writing while my mind processes it. What is important to me is that the writer believes in themselves and the product enough to put it out there at all. Each time you grow.
Morgen: Hopefully less of each as time goes on (crying anyway). What are you working on at the moment / next?
Brian: Eight months and ninety-thousand words of ‘existential angst’ and I hate it. I considered this novel my serious book. It was my response to Paul Auster’s ‘New York Trilogy’ which disappointed me greatly. I had found it by accident while doing research on my Colombia plays and the hype is huge and the work not at all worth it. So this is my answer. If it sells one copy it will be an ‘over the top’ success.
Morgen: I’ve often wondered why some books are particularly successful, although readership varies so greatly – most advice I’ve heard is to write for yourself although some authors disagree and say to write for your audience. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Brian: Almost always, it is my full time job. Having said that the distractions are endless and procrastination is easily rationalized as ‘marketing’. The internet network is a black hole that I love and hate. My normal day is four hours working on my book. A great day is ten-hours. Words and pages are meaningless measures for me – how long I am in that zone is what matters the most – then I know I am really working and making progress and moving forward as an artist.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Brian: Four years after my first work was finished (novel/screenplay/marketing) I couldn’t write an email that wasn’t for someone else like business let alone write a single word for a novel or anything. It drove me insane and I mean that on so many levels. Eventually I stopped everything I was doing and physically moved across the country and sat down imagining I was somewhere else completely. I made myself fall in love.
Morgen: Wow. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Brian: Both and this last one was no plan and no idea; I sat down every day and filled pages for months trying to find a thread of a story that I believed was locked inside me. I don’t recommend it. My first effort was the most ‘text-book’ correct and entirely by accident – I knew nothing and I did everything right. Mostly it is a solid idea and if I can see it playing out for three or four short stories of 120 pages each I know I’ve got something real.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Brian: No. I am very conscious of building a body of work. The way that industry works as far as I can see, it all eventually finds a home once something is discovered.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Brian: The isolation cuts both ways.
Morgen: I’m a Mae West-er… I like to be alone. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Brian: Think in your own voice.
Morgen: What do you like to read?
Brian: Escapist mysteries. My last phase was Scandinavian. Right now I am reading ‘Bismarck’s’ biography. He impressed me academically as a strategist and I thought it would be a good way to cleanse my palete.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Brian: I’ve only seriously explored writing groups of the web. There are lots but as I mentioned earlier be careful.
Morgen: In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Brian: I’m in Canada and though it seems like a narrow closed market I continue to think that my audience is international and this stops me from getting too fixated on origin and opportunity.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Brian: This was fun but my head hurts.
Morgen: From our communications I had a feeling I was going to enjoy reading your answers and you didn’t disappoint. Thank you, Brian.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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