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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

From Short Stories to Novels: An Interview with author, Jason Brannon

Let's talk about the beginning process. What was the first novel you wrote?  
The first novel I ever wrote was called Rusty Nails. The book was a supernatural detective novel in the vein of The Dresden Files and Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. At the time, I had been primarily writing short stories and wanted to stretch my abilities to see if I could write something novel-length.    

How long did it take you to write that book?  How many rewrites did you do on it? 
The book was a learning experience in a lot of ways and took me the better part of nine months to write.  The book went through several rewrites and several publishers. Given that it was the first novel I ever tried to tackle, I don’t consider it among my best work. However, I learned a lot of valuable lessons with that one, particularly regarding story continuity and the need to revise, revise, revise!  

In reviewing your books for sale on Amazon, I saw 13 titles for books published in the last two years. Were these books in process for several years? Or do you just not sleep at all and write constantly? 
I’ve been writing and selling fiction for almost twenty years. In that time, I’ve compiled quite a few books worth of material.  A lot of the titles listed at Amazon are reissues of books that were published in previous years.  At least five of those (the Crypto-Squad series co-written with Eric S. Brown) are novella collaborations.   

How many hours a day do you write?  
As for my daily ritual-typically, I try to get in a couple thousand words a day. Sometimes that takes an hour.  Sometimes, it takes a couple of hours. There are days when the words come easily, and there are days when it’s work. Obviously, I enjoy the days when the words just seem to flow.        

A number of those books are under 200 pages with one under 100 pages. Are people more
interested in buying the longer books or the shorter ones? 
With the popularity of eBooks I think people are gravitating toward shorter works.In this day and age where you can read a novel on any smartphone, books under 100 pages are often the way to go. It’s so easy now to open your phone app and read a few pages while sitting at the doctor’s office, standing in line at the bank, or when you only have a few minutes on break at work. Speaking as a reader, those shorter works are the kinds of books I gravitate toward, especially in eBook format.   

I also noted that some are out of print? What happened with those books?  
With regard to the out-of-print titles, some of those were published years ago and have remained in Amazon’s system.  Some had a limited print run and weren’t reprinted once the initial run sold out.                       
For your current book, The Maze:The Lost Labyrinth the Amazon blurb says, “A near death experience transports Jamie Burroughs into The Maze, a realm built by angels and demons and filled with traps and riddles for those haunted by their mistakes.” What drew you to writing this story?
The Maze was written because I had a desire to write something that was more than just a few scares on a page. I wanted to write something with a moral undercurrent that could function as both entertainment and as a life lesson. I hope that readers understand that there are multiple layers to this story and delve deep for meaning.   

What do you hope readers will take away from reading it?
The main point I hope to drive home with this story is that although many of us find ourselves trapped in a downward spiral, there are still chances for redemption. No situation is truly hopeless. So far my readers seem to be “getting” the story, and some comparisons describe the book as something C.S. Lewis and Edgar Allan Poe might have written in collaboration. Since I'm a fan of both writers, I consider that a huge compliment.      

I’m going to go under the assumption that many of your books have been published independently. When did you decide to do it on your own? 
I’ve sold books to traditional publishers and I’ve tried the independent route. Both had advantages and disadvantages. I’ve primarily used the independent route to reissue old books that were no longer under contract. However, many of my books like The Maze are contracted through a traditional publisher. At the moment, I currently have an agent, and that is the avenue I use to sell any new work. The only books I’ve ever felt truly comfortable publishing independently were books that had already gone through an editorial process.      

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Do you do character bios? 
I’ve tried outlining books, and I always tend to stray from the outline. With that said, I generally start with an overarching idea for a novel and go from there. I always have a basic idea of how a book will end and maybe a few plot points along the way. From there, it's a matter of connecting the dots and figuring out how to get from point A to point B. As for character bios-I don't do anything as structured as writing down all of the aspects of a character's life and using that as the basis for their actions within a particular story. However, I usually have a good mental picture of what my character is like before starting.       

I also see that you co-wrote a number of books? Can you tell me how you got involved in that process? How do you write as a team? 
I’ve co-written the Crypto-Squad series with Eric S. Brown.  He and I have both been writing for quite a while and traveled in some of the same circles. I told him about an idea I had for a series of stories about a government sponsored team of cryptids who prevent the apocalypse, and he liked the idea. Eric wrote a series of novels about Bigfoot (Bigfoot War series), and I wrote a novel about a group of bloodthirsty monsters (The Cage) so joining forces seemed natural. We’ve written four entries in the series so far.   

Generally, one of us will come up with the basic story, write the first couple of chapters, and send it off to the other. Then, we bounce the story back and forth until it’s finished. It’s very much a project built on trust. We usually let each other have free reign and add whatever we think the story needs. So far it has worked really well.     

What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? What has worked best for you in generating sales? What has been a bust? 
Like most writers, I have a website and a blog. Word of mouth is probably one of the most effective ways to sell books. Amazon reviews help quite a bit with that. Amazon’s KDP program has been one of the most effective sales tools I’ve used in generating sales. I’ve also done a few radio interviews which seemed like a good idea on paper. However, that typically has provided the least return in terms of sales. Maybe that has to do with the fact that people are usually en route to someplace else when listening to the radio and not generally in a position to buy a book.  

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?   
I wish someone would have stressed to me the need for quality over quantity in the early days. In the beginning of my writing career, I focused on cranking out as much fiction as possible, submitting to as many magazines as possible, getting as many projects out there as I could. As a result, I think a lot of my early work suffered and could have been so much better had I invested a little more time on shaping each and every tale and not worrying about moving on to something new. 

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along? 
Don’t chase trends. What’s hot today won’t be hot tomorrow. Write about what you love and what excites you. By the time you realize what’s popular and selling, the trend may have changed and you will be stuck with a manuscript that you can’t sell and aren’t passionate about.    

That's it for today's interview. It is has tweaked your interest, you can contact him either of these ways:,

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