My guest today is supernatural horror/thriller author, BROOKLYN HUDSON. I met Brooklyn on the Internet, quite by chance. I found her and her work so interesting that I offered her an interview. Come to read her answers and I discovered a lot that I like about this lady, a lot that I can relate to. This "piece of Brooklyn" is worth reading, I promise!
After you read this, please check out WISHBONE, Brooklyn's debut release. Just by reading the blurb, it reels you right in. And for me, it's enticement enough to know that her primary inspiration is the great Stephen King.
One thing that I'd like to ask Brooklyn that I haven't in this interview is the significance of the Gypsy flag in her life and work. Perhaps she will answer this one in the comments section :)))
I leave the floor to Brooklyn now...
How long have you been writing?
I remember making attempts at writing stories at a fairly young age…around six or seven-years-old, but my first completed novel was a pencil written 500 page manuscript called, Scorpion Law. I was 14 years old and would climb out of my bedroom window at night and sit in a local dinner with two friends, pounding coffee and writing until the sun came up and we had to sneak back home.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
I decided to leave my career in music last year and worked my last day January 15th, 2012. I’ve wanted to write full-time all my life but it just wasn’t possible financially. It still isn’t! I’m just getting crazy-daring as I enter my forties.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
Unfortunately, I lost my entire (adult) immediate family by the time I turned 15-years-old. One by one, they all passed away in a short period of time…it was unbelievable. So I’ve never experienced the pressures of family advising me against chasing a dream. My Mom was a very creative person, a dance teacher, pianist, and great lover of music…I honestly believe she would have been all for my writing. She knew I wrote stories as a kid and was always encouraging. My Dad might have shown some concern or suggested I write in my spare time, but I honestly don’t know…he was an avid reader and had great respect for the craft.
What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?
I prefer to (both) read and write Horror/Thrillers. I’m not into monsters and blood and guts horror. I like real-life monsters…things that (maybe) could happen to any of us.
I also like reading dramatic stories from time to time, like Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, or My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, or Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides…oh and, P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. Good, dramatic reads; fiction or non-fiction. So, even while writing horror, my writing tends to have a heavy contemporary drama base with a thread of supernatural running through it.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
Having completed my first novel at age fourteen, I really didn’t know what to do with them, so I would pass them around to friends and eventually they would end up in color-coded accordion files beneath my bed. I have twelve manuscripts still collecting dust under there. I hope to re-edit them and release the worthy material over the coming years. I had a steady day job for decades while writing articles and dog training manuals occasionally paid, and I did publish a trilogy in 1989/90. I have done a little television writing and sold a few screenplays over the years, but for the most part, I wrote on the side and did nothing with my fiction until now. I spent the better part of my life working in music and producing Replica-Rock shows.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
I’ve never taken a writing class other than the requisite college courses. Like music, too much study can make what you create feel contrived and mechanical. I prefer a more organic feel; it takes on more personality. Even in reviews, it bothers me when I see someone’s book torn apart for formatting issues or (subtle) grammar errors like comma placement. You read a novel to be entertained by a creative tale…you’re not grading a term paper. How did you like the story?
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
I’ve never been part of a critique group but I do have groups of beta-readers who read my chapters as I write them. (a) They force me to stay on schedule and get the next chapter out or, man, do they get on me. (b) This allows me to make corrections as I go.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
Nope! I’m just Brooklyn now. Years ago I would use one name for animal related work and one for the other stuff, and felt the need to keep it all separate, but now I use no pseudonyms…it’s been years.
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
I sold a trilogy when I was 18-years-old. I was tickled…ecstatic. I thought I would be the next Stephen King by the time I woke up the next day. Ha! We threw a big party and made a big deal. Now, I treat myself to a venti frappe at Starbucks and post it on Facebook…LOL
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
No. I still have it though. You can hardly read it since it was handwritten with pencil. I never tried and I don’t think it would be viable as is, but it’s fun to pull out and giggle about from time to time.
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?
I write one draft and pass it through the beta-readers then edit it two or three times myself before I hand it off to a pro-editor for a final clean up.
Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
Honestly, I read many blogs, but I do love and regularly visit, Talk Stephen King
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
I’ve had about five or six agents over the years for everything else, but I have always submitted my own novels to publishers and kept the fiction writing separate.
If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?
Word of mouth. Living in Los Angeles for more than two decades and working in the industry, agents are everywhere.
Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?
Someone once said, if you haven’t been rejected you aren’t a writer. Yes, I’ve been rejected plenty. I honestly am never emotionally affected. From a young age, I remember reading an article about Stephen King where he talked about the hundreds of rejections he received. If Stevie can deal with it and keep writing, we can too. I just keep writing.
What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?
I wish I could answer that question. If I could, we could all follow the checklist and find a publishing deal for everything we write. I think it’s varies dramatically from publisher to publisher. I think talent is, of course, imperative, and trends do play a part as well, but publishers are jaded. They spend their days reading ‘script after ‘script and their senses get dulled. I’ve read several self-published books with all the elements of a great Big 6 novel, yet they were turned down repeatedly. Like with any power position, some publishers handle it better than others. On the other hand, everyone is an author these days, so the sheer number of submissions must be maddening.
What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?
Ya know…I have very mixed emotions. I love the convenience and simplicity of having your entire library in a handheld device, but I do really love the smell and feel of a real book; especially used books…it’s as if they have a soul. I honestly think brick and mortar publishing is no longer necessary and will (one day) be a thing of the past. Today, unless your book goes truly viral, big publishers are doing less and less for the money. They send you an instruction manual on how to promote your own book. Well, gee, thanks! Here’s your 96.5% of my hard work in return for that lousy manual. Thanks, but no thanks! I’ll publish myself.
It would have to be a really exceptional offer for me to consider traditional publishing today.
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
Definitely! Self-publishing is a beautiful thing. The stigmas of being Indie are fast disappearing, and with good reason. Of course, it’s not for everyone. I still hear authors talking and I know some will never be satisfied unless they get that traditional publishing stamp of approval. But for many of us, we don’t need that to know we spin a good tale.
How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?
I prefer used book stores so the trend hasn’t affected me much and I haven’t researched enough to know if it’s happening everywhere. I think people like the convenience of shopping online so it was bound to happen. Of course, as an Indie author, it works to my benefit, so I can’t complain.
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
WISHBONE is available in both digital and Print on Amazon U.S. and Europe.
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
Write, write, and write some more! The more you write the more your style evolves and comes to life. Writing is something you can never perfect; you just keep getting better at it. There’s an audience for everything. So even if your friends tell you that you suck, or your Dad tells you to give it up, keep writing…if you have that calling, answer it. If your time is limited, write one page (or one paragraph) per day, but keep writing.
What are you working on now?
I’m cleaning up a second draft of the WISHBONE screenplay and working on WISHBONE II. I’m also writing a television series for cable; (working title) The Gypsy Project. I’m really excited about this one. I’ll put it out as a novel series as well, but there’s a lot of research involved for authenticity. It’s a tedious but fun mission and it will also have a supernatural thread. I have an episodic series coming out soon called Little Lives. Each episode will be released as a short 70 to 100 page segment of a continuing story…like episodes of a soap opera.
What is/are your favorite book(s)?
I love Stephen King, especially his earlier work; Cujo, Pet Sematary, Misery, Thinner, The Stand, The Shining, all of them.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?
I do not. I’m a person who picks up accents easily. If I visit London for an hour, I sound like Madonna for months! The same goes for reading and writing. If I read while I write, my style tends to take on the other author's voice. I learned a long time ago, finish reading a book before I start writing my own stuff.
What book inspired you to write horror-thrillers?
Cujo. I was about ten-years-old when my older brother finished reading Cujo and placed it on our book shelf. I saw the cover; jet-black, only the snout of a rabid, snarling dog, and picked it up. He responded by telling me I was too young to follow the book and the challenge was on! I spent the next week or so reading Cujo and fell in love with Stephen King. That was when I knew what I wanted to do and what genre I would focus on. I had already been dabbling in creative writing, but that was the moment.
What hero/heroine/villain/other character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?
Sarah in WISHBONE. I had to make this girl come to life without the ability to use dialogue; she is unable to speak. On screen you can fall back on facial expressions and body posture to convey a message to your audience, but on paper…not so much! Expressing her thoughts and feelings was a real challenge, but I enjoyed the task.
Do you prefer heroes or villains?
I enjoy writing both, equally. I’m a believer that there is good and bad in everyone, so all of my heroes are terribly flawed and my villains have a heart. I try to make it difficult on the reader to decide who they side with; I mean, isn’t that how it is in real life? There’s his story, her story, and the truth in the middle. When I’m building my characters, I want them to feel real and take on authentic personalities, so the reader can love a character, but be really mad at them for a chapter, then kiss and make up in the subsequent chapter, as it would be in any true life relationship.
How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?
I allow myself to be a little selfish when I’m writing. My close friends and my daughter know that once my writing mode is in effect, it’s going to be a while before I’m out of the trance. As we say in music, I wood-shed or hideaway. I mostly write during dark hours and sleep a few hours during the day. I adopted my daughter when she was 16-years-old so she was old enough to handle it. She’s away at college most of the time now, so she’s less affected. I write full-time now so work is not an issue. As for chores, it all goes to heck while I write…bills are late, laundry piles up, and I’ll chose a moment here and there to tackle a task when it’s absolutely necessary, but I do it begrudgingly.
Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?
Not exactly. I always have music playing. Usually music that suits the protagonists taste or the story itself. I chain smoke and drink cup after cup of coffee and frequently go 36 hours writing without any sleep or proper meals. I do always write in pajama pants. Seriously, I live in pajama pants and baseball tee-shirts.
How would you describe your writing voice?
I usually say conversational. My style is very much like a friend telling a story over a cup of coffee at your kitchen table.
What message do you want to send readers with your writing? How do you want readers to remember you?
I think each story has its own deeper message; like WISHBONE is definitely about greed, love and loyalty, and being happy with what life gives you because it can all be gone in an instant. I have another story that is very much about superficiality. Each one tackles a different underlying message.
I would like readers to remember me as a great storyteller. I would like to be worthy of that.
The best part of writing and getting your books published?
The best part of writing is playing God.
The best part of publishing a book, for me, is the knowledge that I’m supplying people with an escape from reality. These are tough times for all and if you can get their minds to escape for a period here and there, you’re doing your craft proud.
The worst part?
Probably the isolation during the writing phase. I take to it too easily…I welcome it. I try to remain conscious of that and not allow it to get out of control to an unhealthy level.
Of course, a negative in publishing are the hours of marketing which are necessary. I think to myself, if I didn’t have to spend so many hours marketing and branding, I could probably turn out a lot more books!
Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?
I would like to have a collection of at least fifteen books out by then. I hope to have a loyal readership and a consistent career. I don’t have to be rich, but it would be nice if my writing could keep me comfortable by then.
Name something you like to do when you’re not writing – a hobby, maybe…
Reality TV is my guilty pleasure. Celebrity Apprentice, American Idol, Top Chef; you name it! I love all the reality contests.
What's your website URL?
Or you can find my blog at: http://brooklynhudson.blogspot.com/
Are you on Facebook?
My Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/BrooklynHudsonAuthor
WISHBONE Page: http://www.facebook.com/WishboneNovel
The WISHBONE Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/Wishbone.Brooklyn/
The group is more for those who have read the first book; a place to talk about the characters and plot and to hear updates about book II. Lots of spoilers, so not for someone who hasn’t read the book yet.
How do you connect with readers?
Social networks like Twitter ( @BrooklynHudson_ )and Facebook. I also offer an email address on my website where readers can reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brooklyn Hudson was born and raised in New York City's borough of Staten Island. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she produces The Springsteen Experience, a theatrical concert event; she is a replica-rock (tribute show) concert promoter and band manager, and has been writing fiction since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She credits Stephen King for her devout adoration of adult dramatic horror and is currently fast at work on the WISHBONE screen adaption and WISHBONE Part II.
~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love, Mystery... and a world of surprises in between!