Today I have a special treat for you all. Brent Abell, the author of the fantastic novella In Memoriam has agreed to answer my questions and his publisher has placed the novella on sale for the occasion! I highly recommend that you pick up a copy, even if it’s just to see what all the fuss is about!
Welcome Brent, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience you now have before you. (Great place to inset your bio and expand on it if you like)
My name is Brent Abell and I reside in Southern Indiana with my wife, two sons, and a pug that has some sort of funny line about him in every book I’m in. I enjoy coming up with a different saying for him when I type up a new bio. The writing bug hit in 2010 and I composed a flash fiction piece for the open mike at Mo-Con that year. I was nervous, but I managed to get through it and enjoyed the fact one of my favorite authors grabbed a lighter and started waving it around after I read the twist in the story. Since then, I have work in print or upcoming in over twenty publications. I’ve battled moments of uncertainty and doubt about choosing to write, but it seems when I get down something comes along and really reminds me I did make the right choice. The pinnacle so far has been the release of In Memoriam, my debut novella. It was a two year labor of love…no, at points it really did feel like what labor must feel like. Once again, it came and went without too much fanfare and I began to feel like it wasn’t all that good until some reviews came in recently and changed my point-of-view about it. Remember kids, for all the stuff you need to know be sure to stop in at http://brentabell.wordpress.com and join the party by signing up to follow the blog, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Tumblr… It really does go on and on after a while…
I think that each of us battles moments of uncertainty and doubt, but you need to buckle down and continue to do what you love – even if it’s just for yourself. What is your writing process?
When I can grab some time, I get behind my keyboard and just go with it. Right now I don’t use outlines, but I do put a lot of thought into the beginning and the ending. The middle I let flow from my head while I write. I’ve tried to use an outline or a sketch about the story and while it can help focus me, I start to resent that piece of paper floating over my head. What I do now is jot some quick notes about people, places, and plot ideas I need to remember. In the short stories it’s easier for me to keep track of everybody, but as I’ve found out with writing Southern Devils, I’ve had to write the characters on a dry erase board so I can keep tabs on them and mark them out if I need to. When I started doing this, I realized I inserted a soldier and then forgot about him in the narrative. I try to hit 1k words in a sitting and I go through stretches where I’m really good about it or where it’s like I’m not a writer at all.
I am eagerly anticipating the release of Southern Devils, so get a move on it!! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I would love to break into Sci-Fi and have the opportunity Tim Lebbon has had recently by writing a Star Wars novel. My werewolf origin story, For Our Sins: A Fable (from Crowded Quarantine Press’s Ten Silver Bullets) is very fantasy based and was mentioned in reviews because of it. In my mind, I do have a dark fantasy based YA book or three planned and one day I might get around to writing them.
What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
1) IT by Stephen King – I came into my 6th grade reading class and threw the book on my desk and freaked my teacher out. I was lucky because my parents gave me a wide berth to read what I wanted because of how high my reading test scores always were. Without them doing that for me, I’m not sure I’d have read that much.
2) At the Mountains of Madness and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft – Another book that shaped my early teen years. What else can be said?
3) The Complete Works of Edger Allen Poe by Edger Allen Poe – His dark and foreboding words helped build my love of horror and the macabre.
4) Ghoul by Brian Keene – Even though I’ve only read this book in the past few years, it resonates with me and my childhood. It brought back the memories of the kids on my block and the things that binds friends as well as tears them apart.
5) The Monster’s Ring by Bruce Coville – This was ‘the’ book for me as a young boy. A boy goes and buys a ring that can turn him into a monster? Hell yes! This book led me to love monsters and evil things and I wore out two copies of the thing. From here I moved to EC Comic reprints (like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror) and it opened the door to every other horror book I’ve ever read.
You mention in the forward of In Memoriam that it started out as a shorter piece. What made you decide to lengthen it?
After I completed the original short story I looked at it and didn’t feel like I told the whole story. I also didn’t like the way I portrayed the main character. The tale is also set in the town of White Creek, a place I’ve created to play in with my stories and I wanted to bring in some people who are going to appear in other places. The events set in motion by a certain person and a page is going to spill over into other tales.
Do you ever worry that the controversial nature of the subject matter could potential ward off readers?
I didn’t think about it until it was accepted by Rymfire Books for publication. Once I started the rewriting process, the words I put on the page spoke differently to me and I realized that what I wrote was the story that demanded to be told. If people are offended, I make no apologies, I was a slave to the will of the story.
There is a particularly visceral chapter near the beginning that I wasn’t sure I was going to get through – do you ever ask yourself if you’ve gone too far with anything that you’ve written?
That scene came to me during the rewrite. The editor wanted me to flesh some parts out more and I had the idea floating in the back of my mind. I had this entity floating around, but why was it so angry? Why did it do the things it did to certain people? I wanted the reader to feel what the person in that scene went through to make them so full of hatred and despair. It was extremely difficult to write and ripped open some things that will take a long, long time to scab over again. If there was a passage I’ve ever written that I slit my wrist and bled on the page, this was it.
If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
Since In Memoriam is the main topic, I’ll cast it:
–Sophia Myles as Andi Winters
–Dave Franco as Chris Wallis
–Brian Cox as Father Chester Dunhill
–John Goodman as Roy
–Colm Feore as Dr. Henry Meade
–Chris Pine as Damon Smith
–Ashley Smith as Ashley Smith (she can play herself)
–David Tennant as Father Maxell Channing
That’s a great cast! From the actors that I am familiar with, I can totally see Colm Foere play the doctor and Chris Pine as Damon. What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
Easy! Call in to work, quit, and go back to bed. Once I wake back up, I’ll fire up a cigar and open up a bottle of rum (only if I slept past noon). After it all sets in, I’ll have to start writing whatever my follow up is going to be so I don’t go broke… I did just quit my job!
Only if it were past noon? Seriously? You’ve been talking online lately about a pet rock. I’m assuming that it will appear in a story, but I could be wrong… Would you please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress?
Ah, the pet rock is a story I’ve been working on that is in honor of the great giant (fill-in-the-blank) films of the 50’s and 60’s. I wanted to think outside the box and huge pet rock pulverizing a town was what I came up with. I am also finishing up a story set in a local tuberculosis hospital that was torn down a few years ago. There are two projects I’m putting together with some other good friends of mine for later this year that I can’t talk about yet. Lastly, I’m in the home stretch of Southern Devils which is my Civil War zombie series. I’m getting ready to start editing and rewrites before trying to find a press for it.
The first nine lines of Southern Devils:
The blazing rifle fire lit up the quiet Tennessee countryside. Flames roared from muzzles and the shots boomed, echoing in the mountain twilight. Unholy war cries erupted from the heavy green brush beside the trail, trapping the Union scouts between the mountain’s side and the guns flashing from the forest’s cover. The coming darkness hid the advancing Rebels and the Union gunfire found nothing but air as they missed their marks.
Major Kenneth James’s horse reared back in fear and threw him to the sun hardened dirt trail. The air rushed from his lungs, stolen by the dry, cracked earth. Forcing a breath, he bounced back to his feet, pulled his pistol, and waved it from side-to-side trying to get a shot at their attackers. He made out figures silhouetted in the flashes when shots were fired, but in the growing shadows he couldn’t tell friend from foe.
In the heat of the raging battle, he never heard the Confederate soldier who chewed into his jugular coming.
Great excerpt Brent – again, I am patiently awaiting its release (or at least a preview copy). Is there anything else you’d like to say before I release you?
Well folks, thanks for stopping by and I’d also like to thank Julianne for having me!
Until next time…
Thank you Brent for taking the time to answer my questions. For a limited time only, Rymfire Books has placed In Memoriam on sale for 99¢ and I highly recommend that you go and get yourself a copy. I recently read and reviewed the novella and you can find my review here. As an added bonus, let’s take a quick peek into it…
It feeds on fear and driven by hate.
Andi Winters is about to find out the price for her choice is vengence.
Caught in between the natural and supernatural, Andi Winters is about find out the price she must pay.
All decisions have consequences, some good and some bad. Andi Winters has made the biggest decision of her life and sets in motion a chain reaction putting everyone and everything she ever loved at risk. Something has been summoned and Andi is caught in the middle of forces beyond and from this world. Now the time has come for her to pay because what was once thought to be thrown away and forgotten is hungry for her soul.
Click on the cover and you will be whisked away to Amazon…