Sunday, September 8, 2013

Interview with Indie Author Brian D. Meeks!!

I had a little email interview with Brian Meeks this weekend and here is what he had to say!

1. How long have you been writing?

 I started writing on Jan 2, 2010. I hated writing before that, but the college football game didn't kickoff until eight o'clock, so I was wandering around the internet and found the blogger site. I had taken up woodworking and decided to write a post about my foibles. After I hit post I went to a woodworking forum and decided to post it there, too. The next day, when I went back, 300 people had read the post and 25 had left comments. It is amazing how external validation can change one's perspective. I've blogged every day since.

2. What was your main reason for becoming an Indie Author?

I didn't intend to write novels. I wrote the 1st chapter of a noir mystery that takes place in 1955 New York City for my blog. My blog was about woodworking and I didn't have anything to write about that day, so I created Henry Wood. He's a detective with a love of woodworking and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The readers of my blog asked for more of the story and three years later I've written four mysteries, one thriller, one YA, a satire, and a book about the 1986 Iowa Hawkeyes Men's basketball team.
The thing about writing books is that I could never write an entire novel, but I can write one chapter. I don't plan out my novels, I just bang out the next chapter, and eventually I get to the end of the story.

As for why I choose the Indie path as opposed to the traditional route, well, it's I like my books. I like them a bunch and I think others will, too. When the day comes that I'm selling thousands of copies per week, then I'd rather get 70% of gross than 15% of net. Another reason is speed to market. I can finish a novel and get it published in a month, or quicker if I've been giving my chapters to my editor while I write.
My greatest skill is not writing, but analysis. I was a data analyst for GEICO, where a 15 minute call could save you 15% on your auto insurance. I worked in the marketing department and learned a bunch about data. I track lots of different things with regards to my books. If I went the traditional route, I wouldn't have access to the data, and that would drive me nuts.
With each ad I run, I learn valuable information that I can use to improve my marketing. Two months ago I had 277 sales and last month 513. I could talk for hours about the data I gathered and the patterns I see, but most people would stop reading, so I won't.

3. Do you normally insert a little bit of yourself into the books you write, like we see in A Touch To Die For? Yes, but it isn't always where people expect.

In most of my books there are people eating food. 90% of the time they are eating what I'm eating at the time I'm writing that bit. Sometimes, though, I have the characters eat something I hate, just to be different. Also, most of the "me" is sprinkled into characters other than the main ones.
I have a book I'm working on publishing now called Underwood, Scotch and Wry. The snark from the main character is very much me, but his lifestyle isn't me at all. When that books becomes a huge best seller, and people offer to buy me a drink, they'll be shocked that I'll likely order a Pepsi. I'm not really a drinker. I usually drink about once every year and a half or so.
The serial killer's computer in A Touch To Die For is exactly like the type of thing I'd have built if I were a billionaire. However, I'm not much of a mass murderer, though. So, the point is, I sprinkle myself all over the books, but it isn't always apparent except to the people who've known me for twenty plus years.
I had one person ask me how long I had lived in New York City, after having read Henry Wood Detective Agency. I've been to Manhattan, twice, for a total of three days. I'm not afraid to do research.

4. How do you deal with writer's block?

I don't believe in writer's block. I believe in writer's lazy, though. If I sit down and write, I have no problem getting into the flow. I don't really ever have deadlines, but if I put one on myself, it is just a matter of tuning out the world and letting myself get into the story.
One thing I like to do, that helps with writer's lazy, is to write in public. The Hamburg Inn No. 2 is a great little place to go eat and write. There is something about tuning out the white noise that gets the words to flow. It never fails.

5. How do you keep from burning out?

No idea. I guess I just like writing books. I've never burnt out with regards to golf, tennis or eating bacon. I think I'm not really prone to burning out on something. I still love all my hobbies, but I just don't have time to devote eight hours per day to 20 different things...oh but if I would be awesome.

I'm not sure one can be a successful author if they don't imagine it taking a decade to achieve their goals. It is rare that one can make it with one novel. Sure, occasionally there will be a Harper Lee, but more often than not, it is the third, forth, or fifth book that takes off and then ones that came before are discovered. Again, one can point to J.K. Rowling, and others, but they are the exception not the rule.

6. who/what is your biggest inspiration? 

I have a degree in economics. My hero is an economist by the name of David Ricardo.  He lived from 1772 - 1823, and most people have never heard of him. His theories were so advanced that they weren't fully appreciated until 140 years after his death. I like thinkers.

7. What type of novels do you enjoy reading?

I love many different types of writing. My favorite authors are Rudyard Kipling, Ivan Turgenev, Elmore Leonard, Vladimir Nabakov, J.K. Rowling, Vikram Seth, and indie authors Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. Johnny and Sean have just released a science fiction series called The Beam, and one day it may be considered a classic. They also write the series Unicorn Western, which is delightful.

8. Do you have other hobbies you are passionate about?

Those who have known me for a decade or two would laugh at this question. The first question people ask when my name comes up, "What's Meeks' latest hobby?"

My interests are many and varied. I have, at various points in my life, been obsessed with...fencing, chess, badminton, golf, tennis, baseball (and softball), photography, video games, woodworking, collecting baseball cards and comic books, learning French, and squash. I'm sure that is an incomplete list, but to answer your question, yes I do.

Currently, I limit myself to writing and golf. I'm constantly seeing things I'd like to try, but it is my nature to throw myself into a new hobby one hundred percent, and that would be bad for my writing. I'm committed to making it to the "Tipping Point" as an author and I don't want to get distracted.

9. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I have learned a bunch over the last few years. I could write a book...maybe I will. But, in the interest of brevity (I'm rarely interested in brevity)

    1) Learn Scrivener and use it for writing your novels or screen plays. If one has the talent to write one novel, they will surely write more. The ease in publishing with Scrivener, once it is learned, will save the new author hours.

    2) Hire a great editor.

    3) It isn't necessary to describe every detail you imagine. Yes, you may be able to see every lamp, chair, and sconce in a room, but it is enough to say, "He walked into the library with all its Victorian finery and stopped when he saw her in the glow of the Tiffany lamp." I'm sure you can see the desk, the paneling on the walls, the carpet, the paintings, but even if you can't see what I see, your image is just fine. The best part about creating scenes that let the reader fill in the blanks is that they will give you the credit. 

 4) I leaned this from reading Elmore Leonard. If character A asks a question, sometimes character B will say something unrelated because they may not have been listening. It's how people talk and it makes for good dialog.

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