The best thing about working with writers is NOT reading their brilliant books, it's getting to learn about who they are as writers, as humans. With the upcoming release of The Weird Ones by Charles D. Brown, we got to interview Mr. Brown, and this is what we discovered:
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Kurt Vonnegut would be high on the list because I think we would laugh the whole time. And anyone who’s a first-timer over for dinner gets jambalaya as that’s the dish I make the best.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
As I’ve started writing novels, my big fear is always “Will this be long enough?” I started as a screenwriter, so my plots were mostly novella sized. Outlining has helped, but I never really know until I’m 20,000 words into it if I have a novel in my hand.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyk’s character in ‘Double Indemnity’). James M. Cain who wrote the novel named her Nerdlinger which didn’t fit the film side of noir. I might have killed her husband for her also.
What books are on your nightstand?
I’ve become a Kindle guy, so it’s more devices than books. I also have my record player there for my vinyl fix. I only have the actual book I’m reading. Right now it’s Trinie Dalton’s ‘Destroy Bad Thoughts Not Yourself.’ She was my thesis professor and I love her weird wit.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
Parenthesis because I’m always getting sidetracked (although I was told not to use them in fiction).
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
“The Power and The Glory” by Graham Green
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
Two turntables and a microphone
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I have a depressive personality, so I’m usually beat after a writing session. I have found this is the perfect time to go to the movies because I can fully release into somebody else’s world.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Literary writers: “Just another draft before I send it out.” Genre writers: “If I don’t write a million words a year, I’m a failure.” Somewhere in between is good.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Chosen ones as lead characters (Luke Skywalker is the exception because no one specifically told him he was chosen. In fact, they all looked down on him until he got to Yoda.). The president of the United States as main character.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
No, although comics books are back in my focus. It’s still reading, but ...
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes, but the story would have to be action-oriented.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
If you take away grad school, most of my writing friends are songwriters and music is one of my biggest inspirations, both lyric-based and instrumental. I also know many screenwriters. They always have great life stories.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I straddle the literary/genre line. My urban fantasy is mostly linked. I think that’s fun. I don’t know if I’ll write sequels to my lit novels, but that would be interesting to explore.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My first novella were self-published, so I now know the whole process of getting a book into print. My writing process is the same.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My tuition to USC. I was a good writer going in, but every aspect of my prose has improved.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I was one of those weird kids with a large vocabulary as a youngster. I was alienated because of it, but it was key to moving forward as a writer.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I think he’s been forgotten recently, so I’ll say Harry Crews’ ‘The Knockout Artist.’ His last books were so inconsistent, so this one was his last masterpiece. A great New Orleans novel.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A platypus. Weird looking, funny, but still has a poison spur for a weapon.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Everything. Having an interesting life has made me an interesting writer.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have a work in progress, but that doesn’t count. I have a high fantasy novel at 15,000 words which needs plotting. I’ve abandoned a sci-fi novel after losing 6000 words in a DropBox fiasco. My real unfinished works are my two spec screenplays which will probably never be produced.
What does literary success look like to you?
Seeing the book in a bookstore. Old-fashioned and quaint, but still true.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The female perspective can be radically different. Finding believable actions is harder than the dialogue.
What did you edit out of this book?”
This collection ranges from stories written in the mid-’90s to now. Some stories about the Internet boom at the turn of the millenium didn’t age well. After further review, they weren’t good enough to rewrite either.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’d go back to the library. I will always read and recommend books.