Today I want to welcome the incredibly talented Bryan Hall. There are a handful of writers out there who are GROSSLY under-read. Bryan is one of them. If you haven't checked him out yet, you are missing an amazing talent. So, take some time and get to know him.
You have been at this for a little while now, what are some of the best and worst things about being an author?
The best? Getting emails from readers who enjoyed a story, or reading a review from someone who really got what I was trying to say in a book. The worst? Probably the doubts that creep up from time to time and make you wonder if what you’re working on is really good enough. Those happen to all writers, I think, but it’s important to fight through them. Important and really tough to do sometimes.
What are some of the lessons you have learned as a writer that caught you off guard?
That the oldest writer clichés out there aren’t just clichés, I guess. Things like “My characters just did the complete opposite of what I planned on them doing” or “I woke up in the middle of the night with the perfect idea for a novel but didn’t write it down and now I can’t remember it”. They happen. They’re real, along with hundreds of other examples. Other things like how long it can take to go from submission to a publisher to the release date or how hard marketing is I was already aware of, but those clichés surprised me when they proved their existence.
What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?
Heh. I don’t know if I really have an actual process. I don’t outline, but I keep a list of notes at the bottom of the document and add to it as I think of things – plot twists, scene ideas, character information, underlying themes to focus on, little passages of dialogue to include later, the ending (if I figure it out before I get there).
I try to always stop writing for the day when I’m at a point where I know what’s coming next – it doesn’t always work out that way, but I find that a walk, a drive with some music playing, or even a shower usually gets my mind working and I figure out the next part. And I’m constantly editing. I’m not one of those authors who ‘barfs onto the page’ and just writes straight through, then cleans up later.
And the first thing I do when I start a new writing session is go pack over the last couple thousand words and edit it. By the time I’m finished with a novel or story it’s not really a first draft – it’s more like a second draft. It takes me longer to write than most because of that, but it’s just how I do it.
If you were to up and change genres, what would be your next choice?
Pure southern gothic, no horror involved. I’ve got a lot of stories that involve families in rural Appalachia that I plan on getting to, just stories like Sling Blade in terms of tone and setting (nothing LIKE Sling Blade, just an example of what I’m talking about). First I’ve got to finish up these horror stories that keep climbing into my head.
What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?
Traditional publishers could learn the reasons that a lot of indie authors choose to go indie. There are a lot of indies who are doing it just because they don’t like to wait two years from the day they submit a manuscript to their release date, or because they want more than 10 percent of the royalties. I understand the huge workload major publishers have, and I understand why those wheels turn slowly. But at the same time I think there’s room for improvement.
Indies could learn to get over the romanticism of writing and actually focus on writing. Instead of spending time defending your choice to be indie or posting random little inspirational writing memes trying to let people know how awesome it is to write, actually writing is a better idea. There aren’t a lot of major authors that are worrying with trying to make sure that someone else knows they’re a writer and that they create worlds with their words. They’re too damn busy actually creating those worlds to care what other people think about them. Getting better at writing and releasing the highest quality work you can is way more important than spending six hours on Facebook complaining because a traditionally published author said that indie writers are lazy.
The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up in the Indie world? Solutions?
The simplicity of publishing your own stuff these days has bred laziness, impatience, and thin skin in the writing world, plain and simple. A lot of people don’t bother to edit or strengthen their story, they expect to sell fifty thousand copies in their first month out and will try to make it happen at any costs, and they take EVERYTHING personally. There’s a “trad pubbed versus self pubbed” thing going on, too, and it’s only creating more issues – everyone’s pointing fingers and laying blame. Simple fact is that the only solution is to wait. Wait for the authors who don’t want to bother honing their craft to give up. Wait for the readers to catch on to the scams. Wait for authors to grow thick skin and take a real, hard look at themselves and their writing and realize that just because they don’t like what someone says, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to learn from it.
The social media is…
The greatest tool ever created to share information… that increasingly finds itself being used to spread misinformation. I know you meant in relation to the writing world, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Share some information about your work with us:
Permuted Press picked up my debut novel “Containment Room 7” and released it last year. It’s a sci-fi horror novel with some zombies and Lovecraftian undertones throughout. Angelic Knight Press is releasing my “Southern Hauntings Saga”, a southern gothic paranormal series about a drifter who’s running from a deep rooted terror in his past. He sees ghosts, and has turned it into his livelihood. But now the past is catching up with him and he’s getting drawn back to the very things he’s running away from. “The Vagrant” and “The Girl” are the first two instalments and they’re both available now. Several more are coming.
I try to focus on a specific theme for each book in the Saga – grief, revenge, the divide created between wealthy and poor. I hope I’m successfully at exploring the themes, and based on some of the emails I’ve gotten I guess I do.
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you write?
Honestly, everyone so far asks me a wide range of questions so I’m not really sick of anything yet. I like responding to questions, no matter what they are…so far at least.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
I read them and try to see if there’s anything in them that I can use to improve my writing. If there is, I keep it in mind when I’m working and try to grow from it. If there’s not, I forget about it. It’s just an opinion. A negative review can be one of the absolute best tools for improving your ability.
How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?
I read a lot. Not as much as I’d like, but I usually finish at least a novel a week, maybe two. I also read a lot of nonfiction to help stimulate my mind. Can one excel at their craft if they don’t read? Maybe…but it will take a helluva lot longer to do so. Read fiction and you’ll pick up things that an author does that you like, as well as things that you don’t. You can learn from every book, no matter how good or bad it is. Read nonfiction and you’ll probably get a lot more ideas for stories than you realize. So yeah, maybe you can excel at it without reading a lot, but it’ll be a long, hard, winding road. Besides…why wouldn’t a writer want to read? That’s like being a filmmaker who never watches movies or a musician that doesn’t listen to music.
When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?
Quickly. I know the need to self promote, and I certainly do my share of it. I know that people are on Twitter or Facebook or blogs at different times of day, and it makes sense to get your name out there. But if you’re posting the same copy/paste post in a dozen Facebook groups twice a day or sending Private Messages and emails to people about your stuff who didn’t ask for it, you’re walking a fine line. I have an author friend who celebrated a birthday. Another author wrote “Happy Birthday” on their Facebook wall…followed by a huge paragraph talking about his newest release. How does someone even think that’s going to work out for them? Like I said – I know we’ve gotta do what we can to get the word out, but a little common sense and respect is important as well.
What projects are you currently working on?
Along with the next book in the Southern Hauntings Saga I’m in edits on a new novel – I have two that I’m shopping around now, but this one is one of the best things I’ve written in my opinion so the edits are really taking up a lot of my time.
What is one thing about you that would surprise the readers who do not know you personally?
Lots, probably. Let’s see…how about that I got ordained online in “Dudeism” and officiated a wedding for a friend of mine a couple of years ago? That was way more nerve wracking than writing a book. They’re still happily married, though, so I guess my mojo was working that day.
If you could team up with another Indie writer…who would it be and how would you work? (Alternating chapters, total co-op, etc.)
This is actually something I’ve thought of a couple of times in the past. Honestly, I don’t think I could do it. Not because of anyone else, but because of my own writing style. I’m too slow compared to most of the other writers out there. I agonize over every sentence, spend time sounding out every line of dialogue. I would drive them crazy.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?
The list is too long to write in terms of people who’ve helped me, whether with emotional support or beta reading or anything else. And there are too many great authors who deserve a mention as well; I know I’d end up forgetting at least ten people so I’d rather just stay mum.
What is in your “to be read” pile right now?
I’m in the middle of re-reading a lot of Stephen King and Clive Barker books I haven’t read in fifteen years or more, so those are in there along with a few nonfiction titles and a lot of indie/small press stuff. The Fading Light anthology Tim Marquitz edited and some stuff from people like Kat Yares, Suzi M, Armand Rosamilia, and more, for example. Plus stuff I received for Stoker Award consideration from other HWA members. In other words, a LOT of stuff is in my to be read pile right now.
Main website: www.bryanhallfiction.com
Southern Hauntings Saga: www.whoiscratenorthgate.weebly.com