"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Author Interview: Bret Jordan

I had the pleasure of meeting Bret Jordan a year ago. After reading four of his stories, I must classify him as a talented horror and fantasy writer. I find myself worrying about and empathizing with his characters long after the real world has forced me to put his work aside.
His newest book Plague has just been released as an ebook by Purple Sword Publishing and is set to be released in print soon. There will be some illustrations in the paperback that aren't on the ebook version.
Bret Jordan grew up in Pasadena, Texas and moved to Lumberton while still attending junior high. He later met and married a girl from Vidor. Twenty years later they are raising their four daughters there. For more information, visit Bret’s website at http://www.bretjordan.com/ , his blog at http://bretjordan.wordpress.com/ or you can find him on Facebook.

Below is a short interview with Bret and a sneak peek at "Alone in the Mist”, soon to be published by Dopamalovi Books.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing?
    Writing is something I've wanted to do since I learned to read - wanted to, but never really did. Instead I played Dungeons and Dragons, but it was never as fulfilling as I wanted it to be. I didn't really like playing a character, I always wanted to be the guy who made up the adventures. Little did I know this was a way to vent my imagination in the narrative format that  I really wanted. It didn't occur to me that I was actually trying to write stories until I created a detailed background for a dwarf character. I got into it like I never had while writing adventures and it struck me that this was what I really wanted to do. Writing adventures was okay, but writing stories is what my heart really desired. At that point I began writing and I have never looked back.

2) I see you are working on a MS - please tell me a little about it - Title, genre, how you got the idea etc.
    My first novel , "Plague", was just published as an ebook a week ago. It is the first book of a trilogy. With the first book completed and presented to the public I decided to start the second novel of the series. The first book taught me a great deal about writing so I have really been looking forward to getting into this second novel. The title is still tentative, but I'm thinking something along the lines of "Plague: The Dragon God". It is a dark fantasy about a zombie horde being unleashed upon a medieval world. It's a fantasy world with dwarves, elves, dragons, magic, swords, sorcery...well, you get the idea. I began the story because I have read several zombie books, but they are all contemporary. Most have some unique twist, but none that I have read have ever been done with a fantasy backdrop so I started thinking and a couple of years later had the first completed manuscript in my hand and ready for a publisher. The first book dealt mainly with humans trying to escape an infected city. I didn't really introduce any new races and relied more upon magic and medieval weaponry. The second book will set my characters into the wilds of a fantasy world where the reader will be introduced to a great deal of fantasy elements that I hope they find enchanting and mysterious.

3) What other styles do you write - genre novels, poetry, articles, memoirs etc.
    My first forays into writing were for horror anthologies. I've written stories about ghosts, man eating plants, gremlins and dryads. I would love to try my hand at steampunk, but I have several other projects lined up before I follow my muse there.

4) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing?
    At the moment I see what I do as a hobby. I would love for it to grow into a career, for I would love to be a full time writer, but for now I have a day job and my writing is simply something that I love to do. I just enjoy writing, so I will be happy if I only do it as a hobby for the rest of my life, but earning a living at it would be my dream job.

5) What authors do you admire?
    Can I say all of them? How about if I just stick to one per genre? I suppose my first pick would be Tolkien. Like many readers of fantasy, The Hobbit was one of the first books I ever picked up, so I can thank Mr. Tolkien for starting me on this path. Terry Brooks would be my second choice in fantasy authors because The Sword of Shannara is another childhood tale that I have loved and has stuck with me over the years. In the category of Science Fiction Frank Herbert would probably rise to the top of the pile with his intricate Dune universe. Richard Matheson rises to the top of my horror list because I absolutely loved I am Legend. And finally, because if I don't say "and finally" this list could turn into a book, I will throw in Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn is another favorite that oddly enough I didn't read until last year. The man had a unique writing style that is a true pleasure to read.

6) What do you do when you have writer's block?
    Writer's block usually happens to me when I get to a point in the story that I lose interest in. It stifles the old creative juices and prevents me from moving forward. When that happens I back off and think. I think for a week or two. I look carefully at all of my characters and the things about them that interests me. I dwell on what is happening in the bogged down scene and contemplate ways that will draw my interest back into it, and hopefully make it more interesting for the reader. When the spark returns and I have a solid idea of what I want I sit back in front of my computer and work through the story with renewed interest.

7) How long did it take you to write your current MS?
    Plague took about three years to write. There were a lot of short stories in between, but from the time I started until the time that I wrote "The End" was about three years. Being my first novel I learned a lot in those three years and did a lot of rewriting, but I'm proud of the outcome.

8) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
    My first few years of writing I would make the stories up as they came to me, and I can still do that on short stories, but I have to outline the longer ones. It's the only way I can know where the story came from and where it is going. It also helps me to keep my facts straight and it helps my stories to flow. Most importantly, it keeps me from getting the dreaded writer's block.

9) What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write everyday etc.
    I don't really have much of a process, but I do spend about twice as much time thinking about a story than I do writing one. I might spend a month contemplating several aspects of an idea before I begin writing, and I usually have a pile of notes to remind me of those ideas that slip through the cracks. I also need complete silence to write. I am easily distracted and any noise will break my concentration so most of my writing time is spent in my office when everyone is asleep, or gone from the house.

10) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?
    This is the opening scene from "Alone in the Mist", soon to be published in paperback by Dopamalovi Books.

    A handgun - pointed at his head. The barrel shakes in unsteady hands. It’s a cheap revolver, a throw down weapon, disposable. The type of gun is irrelevant. Pointed at his head it is just as deadly as a high dollar forty caliber tactical handgun.
     The shooter is a silhouette. A lamp glows like a sun in the background. Nothing stands out on the shooter except an occasional glint of light on wet eyes and highlights on a cheek. The shooter is talking, screaming at him. He doesn’t understand a word. They are too rapid, blending together and losing their meaning. A babbling voice and hysterical sobbing are all he can hear. Long hair swings with each shake of head and thrust of chin.
     He opens his mouth to plead his case, beg for his life. He can’t speak around the knot that has formed in his throat. A croak bursts forth. Tears roll down his cheeks and drip from his chin. This is the end. He is sure of it. The shooter is frenzied, excited beyond reason.
     He knows he is going to die. There is nothing he can do about it.
     He begins a silent prayer, though he hasn’t thought about God in years. Dear God, don’t let me…
     The shooter’s free hand swings forward to disappear in the black void of forehead. The glint of one eye vanishes, covered by a hand camouflaged in shadows. The killer screeches. He cringes and pulls his head into his neck, becoming as small as possible. An eruption of sound and a flash of light envelopes his world.


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Thanks for bringing this new author to my attention. I'm always looking for a good read!

Patricia J. Esposito said...

Excellent interview! I loved hearing about how you came to write fiction. I think I felt that way as a kid; I'd find things I'd love to watch or read or play act, but it was never quite as much as I wanted... writing my own satisfied what I was looking for.

And I agree with what you say about writer's block, though I hadn't put it into words as well. I do hit those places where I can't seem to write, and it is generally when I've lost interest--which clearly means the reader probably would too. It's so important to go back and find what WAS interesting. The spark returns at that point.

Best of luck with the novel and new writing.

Stephanie Faris said...

I feel the same way...it's a hobby I'd love to make a career out of. I guess until writing is my full-time job, I'll continue to feel that way about it. Although I think once someone is paying me I might decide it's my career even if I still have to work somewhere else 40 hours a week!

Maple Seawright said...

Really nice interview. I'm a novice at writing, so it's interesting to hear the thought processes of more experienced writers.

Talei said...

Awesome interview, always great to hear about what inspires authors. Funny, 'Dungeons and Dragons', and 'The hobbit', seem to be favourites among writers. Thanks for sharing!

KM Nalle said...

Very interesting interview, I enjoyed learning about your process for bringing a new story to life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for taking the time to stop by and read my interview!

Denise Covey said...

Now I can comment again, I'd like to say how much I enjoyed this interview and what inspires Bret's story writing. The book looks great.