Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Interview with author C. Bryan Brown of They are Among Us

How would you describe Alex as a character?

Alex is driven, dedicated to her team and her career. She’s aware she’s sacrificing certain aspects of her life, and while she’s not happy about it, she copes. She’s neither drug-addled nor a boozehound, and I think that sets her apart from some of her male counterparts in other literary works. Alex doesn’t need to be redeemed, and she’s not fighting inner demons as well as outer ones.

Not every person is damaged, and not every character is, either. With Alex, I hope to present a strong, confident woman who is capable, but not perfect. I wanted her to be real and, as the trilogy unfolds, to be profoundly affected by the things that happen. To do that, she needed to start in a decent place, as opposed to some beaten down, tragic point in her life.

How would you describe the villains in this story?

Ambiguous, at best.

The novel starts out with a clear antagonist, but when we actually meet that character in the book, things are definitely not what you think. And as the reader follows that character through the latter half of the story, the reasons why he’s the antagonist are very clear, but some of his motivations are revealed and that should make the reader question whether or not he’s as bad as originally thought.

I tried to make the characters multi-layered enough that the reader walks away from this book asking, “Who are the real villains?” and they continue reading to find out. Maybe it’s who they think it is, maybe it’s not.

Who was your favorite to write about?

This might sound odd, but I didn’t have a favorite character in this book. I enjoyed writing each of the characters for their own reasons, and I’m looking forward to what comes next with each of them.

As a collective, I enjoyed writing the vampire half of the book a bit more. There’s something about writing wanton death and destruction, lack of societal rules, and dealing with a supernatural race that’s appealing.

What makes They are Among us different from other stories you have written?

They Are Among Us has a much larger scope than anything I’ve written before. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and by the end, the world as the characters know it, will be vastly different.

I’ve included far more characters than in any other book, and each one has an impact on the overall story. And as the story continues, I’ll continue to add and subtract characters, as it’s certain not everyone will make it to the end.

Another difference, at least for me, is that They Are Among Us sticks more in the horror genre than most of my longer work. I tend to stray into the realm of urban fantasy quite often, and I didn’t this time. The novels gets darker toward the end, and the second and third books turn out even more lights.

Do you feel there could possibly threats out there such as in your story against humans?

That’s a tricky question to answer. I don’t want to give too much away in regards to the trilogy’s overall plot, so I’ll answer with some generic comments.

No, I don’t believe there are vampires in our world, at least not in the way they’re portrayed in the book. My take is a hybrid of the classic vampire and aspects of the more modern vampires I’ve read/watched in the last decade or so. That said, I definitely think nature will take care of herself in the long run. As it is, we’re seeing fungus that turns insects (ants, spiders, etc) into zombies whose goal it is to infect other insects. I can mention the new dementor wasp, named after Rowling’s soul sucking creatures in the Potterverse. We can talk all day long about poisonous spiders, snakes, and the fact these creatures are prey to something else. Again, nature takes care of herself and to an extent, you can call that an underlying theme in the trilogy.

Right now, there are very real threats to our existence that we can either deal with or ignore, and who knows what sort of creatures/animals/insects/viruses will pop up in the future to challenge the human race as the dominant one on the planet?

There is a lot of procedural work described in this story, how much research have you done to write it?

I’ve done a fair amount of research to date. My first novel, Necromancer, also dealt with characters in law enforcement. I relied on some of that earlier research when writing They Are Among Us.

But the real answer is that I have family members in law enforcement and I’ve picked brains on more than one occasion. I’ve also done extensive reading on equipment and weapons, watched videos of raids and deployments, though no doubt there are going to be mistakes, which are all mine. I tried reaching out to the FBI (you can send them questions via their website), but no dice. I guess they don’t like the idea of mixing it up with vampires.

And, I should add that it helps, too, when dealing with the supernatural because there really isn’t a playbook on how to handle those situations, so I was able to wing more than my fair share of scenarios, which was fun. I figured as long as I didn’t devolve my characters into “stupid cops,” readers would let the little things slide. I know, as a reader, I watch more for out-of-character actions as opposed to whether the flanking position is 100% accurate.

How much of an influence has your wife been in your writing?

My wife is much more motivation than influence. If I’m not utilizing my time well, her foot is the first one I feel, usually before my own. I definitely believe I’m entitled to a day off now and again. She sees things just a bit differently in that regard. Plus, she’s always pushing me out the door to attend events, writing groups, or just to get away from the kids for a few hours at the local Panera. She sacrifices a lot to give me the time I need, and that keeps me on the mental straight and narrow, knowing that if I don’t get this project done or get that project done, there’s someone I’m actually going to disappoint and feel like I’m taking advantage of.

As far as actual influence, though, she’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever known, and I draw on pieces of her personality for every woman I write. Whether it’s the stubborn side, the vengeful side, the mothering side… she’s always there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you fear most when writing?

Sucking, which may be cliché, or not, I don’t know.

Deep down, I know you can’t please every reader and there will be people who dislike your work, but that doesn’t stop me from looking at every word and line. Most of the time, I can control the fear and write and then worry about the suckitude in editing and beta reading phases, but every so often, it catches me and I find myself rewriting the same paragraph for an hour.

Once the work is published, though, I’m good. I don’t mind bad reviews, especially if they’re well thought out and presented logically. A bad review lends credibility, in my opinion, to any creative art, as art is supposed to make you feel something. Otherwise, what’s the point?

What are your future writing plans and will there be more to this story based on the way it ended?

The future for me holds three projects I hope to complete by the end of the year. I’m working on At Dawn They Sleep, which is the second book to this trilogy, so there’s definitely more on the way.

After that, I have deadlines for a young adult fantasy novel and a science fiction / urban fantasy mash-up novel. Both of those will also kick off new trilogies.

Between all that, I hope to keep moving forward with some short story ideas I have kicking around.

Where can readers find out more about you?

I try to be all over the place, but in reality that’s tough to do. I utilize Facebook and Twitter more than my website, but the website is the hub of all things C. Bryan Brown related. Anyone interested can head over tohttp://cbryanbrown.net and stalk me there, plus find the links to my Facebook and Twitter. I have an Instagram, but really, the only pictures I take are of beer bottles as I’m drinking them. Who wants to see that?

Where can They are Among us be bought?
You can pick up a copy of They Are Among Us and all my other work on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, my website (see previous question). They Are Among Us and Necromancer are also available on the Post Mortem Press (my publisher) website, which is http://www.postmortem-press.com.

1 comment:

  1. Shells,

    Just wanted to drop a quick note to say "thank you" for interviewing me! Loved the questions and hope to do it again when the next book comes out!


    C. Bryan Brown