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My journey as a writer started out first as a reader. I loved exploring the science fiction worlds of Tolkien, Brian Jacques, and David Eddings growing up. I was always amazed by the feeling that a good book series could give you. I remember as I finished up one of Eddings's five-part story lines in high school, having this almost overwhelming feeling of disappointment that it was over. I didn't want the characters that I had been through so much with to leave my mind. Great writers make us feel like we truly know the characters, and can bring them to life in a way that is so real and personal. We feel their fears. Laugh at their triumphs. Cry at their pain. I started writing in high school at first to continue some of those incredible stories that I just didn't want to end. I moved on to graphic novels, toying with the idea of being a comic book illustrator, then on to screenplays and finally my debut novel, Yield.
I also started my writing journey in high school. What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
I was on a plane from San Francisco to Bend, and the fog was so thick over the bay that it blotted out the sky. As we took off above the cloud bank, everything just disappeared beneath me. Mankind and all our worries seemed to fade into the grey. I wondered what would happen if the world changed at that very moment. What if the life I knew didn't exist when I landed? What if my world died somewhere under those clouds?
That experience started my entire thought process, and even turned into one of my favorite scenes in Yield. As our main character, disgraced firefighter Devin Bane, takes off on the way to an interview, everything he knows changes while he's in the air. Devin crashes headfirst into a chaos he doesn't understand, fighting not only to get back to his wife and kids, but also to protect other survivors now looking to him for a leadership he wants no part of.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
A little bit of both. The subconscious is a funny thing. I think we all internalize and draw from our experiences in sometimes unexpected ways. There are pieces of friends, family, and colleagues in my characters, but it wasn't always intentional. I've had some people tell me a certain character reminded them of someone else. And when I think about it, I realize they're right. There are bits and pieces of truth in all of Yield's characters, stirred up and mixed with a dash of imagination and a tempering of circumstance.
I agree with that...personal experience always plays some part in our perspective as we write. Where do you go to do your research?
I love science fiction and fantasy, but I didn't want Yield to have that fantastical and unbelievable quality to it. I wanted the story to feel terrifyingly possible in every way. Yield integrates contemporary news headlines with the story to give it a very real and timely perspective, mirroring the dangers already on our doorstep as a nation. I've spent over twelve years in the media and am a self-proclaimed news junkie, so research was an ongoing part of my daily life. The Associated Press, CNN and other 24-hour news networks are great resources for staying up to date on global issues and major geopolitical stories.
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
From initial idea to the released novel, it took me about six years. I started very rough, just scribbling ideas in a notebook. Then I expanded and typed up a story arc on the computer. I thought the concept made for a very visual type of story, so I initially fleshed out Yield in a screenplay format. That alone took me a couple of years because I was working on it after long days at work and time with my family. Putting it together as a screenplay actually helped me quite a bit while writing to better visualize the scenes, structure the story, and tighten up my dialogue. But screenplays have to be so concise and heavily formatted that it really limited the emotion of the story. I received a lot of feedback from prospective agents and production companies that the screenplay was overwritten and just too literary. So I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet to expand Yield out into a novel. It took a few more years, but was extremely liberating to be able to flesh out how my characters felt and thought—how the fear inside them was palpable and crippling. It allowed me to really explore my own style of writing and create a much deeper story.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
I'm currently working on book two of the Armageddia Series, and love the direction it's going. I feel like I learned a lot while writing Yield, and that's helped my process on book two tremendously. The follow-up to Yield explores a darkening world, one filled with revenge, retribution, and a desperate struggle to find hope within the chaos. Book one saw the transition from normality to a new way of life. It was very sudden and immediate in the lives of the characters. Book two of the Armageddia Series takes place a year later, and is more about the sustained struggle to survive and how the characters have changed in very different ways to do just that.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
I have a very scattered and chaotic life. I'm a moonlight writer with a busy day job. I have regional marketing responsibilities for a statewide television group, and spend a lot of time on the road in addition to working 50+ hours a week. I write when I can, while also balancing time with my wife and kids when I'm at home. I was actually still writing Yield while finishing up a very challenging MBA program, too. Looking back, I don't know how I juggled everything, but somehow you find a way when you're passionate about it.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?
Editing is the biggest challenge I have as a writer. I think it took me four times as long to finish Yield as it probably should. Every time I read my story I found different things I just had to rework. I would change my changes, then change them back. I was absolutely bipolar at times. I'm a perfectionist, so I was never completely satisfied. Eventually I just had to push it all away and say the book was done—for my own sanity, if nothing else. Then, of course after I read the printed ARC, I had 80+ more changes for my publisher!
Looking back though, editing is really where my story and writing found its voice. I am grateful now for the extra time I spent on that phase. As a new writer, it can be intimidating because it feels like it will never be done. For all the other newbies out there, don't get discouraged! There is a light at the end of that literary tunnel.
One thing I did find helpful while editing was to read the story on different platforms. Reading Yield on my laptop was very different than reading it on my iPhone, iPad, or in printed form. Sometimes changing the medium changes our perspective, and allows us to focus back on the material itself in a different way.
At its core, Yield is a journey of self-destruction and redemption. When our country's entire infrastructure is crippled by a brutal attack, the survivors are thrown into an unthinkable world full of chaos and anarchy. We're thrust right into the middle of that madness with the characters, without understanding what happened or why.
Yield is a story about that shift between the life we know and the very dark world that emerges from the ashes. If everything you knew suddenly changed in a flash of hatred and violence, how would you react? What would you be capable of to protect the ones you love? Yield's characters come face to face with those extremes of humanity, trying to overcome their own savagery and demons while fighting to survive.
Where can readers find your book online
Purchase on Amazon
Purchase Link on B & N
You can follow the entire Armageddia Series.
Bryan, thank you again for guesting. I enjoyed chatting with you and also enjoyed reading your book. Can't wait for the second one in your series.
Hope you all can stay for a bit to visit with Bryan.