How do you do your world-building?
I’m detail oriented, so when I attempt to create a new world fleshing out the characters, locations, etc. flows with the building of the story, and I usually go overboard in my descriptions and have to cut back during the editing process.
It’s as much instinct as anything else. When the plot seems to be ebbing, I know I’ve got to jazz things up because “boring” is a fatal error. So I ask myself the question: What can possibly go wrong here? And usually get more answers than I want.
Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
My books are a journey. I don’t know where they are going when I start and the ride is half the fun. I always have to go back and try to square later events with the earlier plot line. Sometimes that is the most creative part of the entire writing process.
What authors most inspire you?
The oldies but goodies. Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie, Alestair MacLean, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Robert Ludlum, Steven King, J.K. Rowlings (probably the most imaginative of them all!), Lee Harper.
How did you create your cover?
All my covers have been designed and implemented by my wife. We discuss ideas, but it is her creativity that triumphs. What amazes me is the fact that we don’t have any sophisticated software to do this, and yet she still manages to produce something that is really quite clever(in my opinion!).
What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
Nothing original. It’s a tough go. You need some luck and some material that has a ready audience. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance seem to be hot genres right now. My stuff doesn’t fall into those categories, so I have to build a readership the old fashioned way: I’ve got to EARN it!
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. on June 8, 1936. I grew up in Pittsburgh and didn’t leave home until I was 21 and heading off to graduate school at the University of Illinois in Chicago. I’ve attended multiple universities: Duquesne, U. of Illinois, U. of Pittsburgh, Columbia. And I have a B.S. in Pharmacy and an M.S. in Pharmacology. I was married in 1975 and have one daughter.
I have been writing all of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. “Black Dawn.” It dealt with segregation and the KKK. Whatever happened to it I don’t know. Since then, earning a living has preempted long periods of my life when I wrote very little. My wife and I are both in data processing (IT nowadays) and we usually work long hours when we are on a contract, which meant I spent little time writing fiction when gainfully employed. The birth of my daughter offered me another excuse for not writing, but that’s what it was: an excuse. Writing is hard. But it’s in my DNA and I keep returning to it, despite some part of me that prefers the lazy life. However, not writing is unthinkable, and I am constantly exploring ideas even when I’m not committing them to paper.
I lived and worked in Europe for seven years. I met my wife In Italy where we both worked for the same company, and were married in 1975. The contract we were working on ended that year and we took two years off to live in England, in a 300 year old farmhouse in Wiltshire. It was in that farmhouse that I wrote “The Ghost Of A Flea,” as well as another book titled “Quarantine,” which is a science fiction thriller.
“The Ghost” has a strong autobiographical component. I was a programmer/analyst. The office ambiance in the novel is similar to life in my New York office, although the intrigues were of an entirely different nature. I had a good friend who lived in Sparta. I lived for a time near the George Washington Bridge. The building manager was an Irishman, who became a good friend, and an integral character in the book.
“Quarantine” is set in East Africa, where my wife and I vacationed, and I drew liberally on what we read, saw, and experienced. I had an agent back then who marketed both books, and came very close to selling them to both Doubleday and St. Martins. Unfortunately he died before completing the sale and I put the books on a shelf and forgot about them for 35 years. Only this year did I resurrect them and publish them on Amazon’s Kindle and Smashwords.
In 1977, my wife and I returned to the states and founded our IT consulting firm, Brinling Associates. For the next fifteen years we worked hard building our business. I wrote one novel during that time, a book titled “Alone,” which dealt with a man in an irreversible coma who is aware of what is happening around him, but is unable to communicate with the real world. I thought the book was lost, but have just recently found a hardcopy of the book and have begun reworking it..
In 1990, during a down period in our business activities, I wrote several other novels which I am attempting to bring out of retirement. These novels were also put on the shelf when circumstances re-ignited our business opportunities. One book – “The Watcher,” an occult horror thriller – is already self-published. The other is a much larger work, a rural mystery series tentatively titled “The Valley Mysteries” set in Vermont, that I’m still working on. As you can see, writing books is one thing, marketing quite another. I am perhaps the world’s worst marketer, which helps explain why my writings have spent most of their lives on a shelf in my home in Vermont staring out at me asking “Why am I here?”
My writing is pure escapism. When I sit down to write, I embark on an adventure. I let things happen and I let the characters be who they are. Since I strongly avoid outlines, I am as surprised by events as I hope the reader is. Pulling together loose ends is a subject for revision, which I do endlessly. This undoubtedly makes for more work and takes me longer to “finish” something, but it seems to be the best, the only, way for me. It is the candy bar just out of reach that keeps me at the keyboard.
My background illustrates my chaotic approach to life. I have been at different stages a pharmacist, a pharmacologist, a tech writer, a programmer/analyst, a business consultant, a business owner, a teacher, a novelist and a screenwriter. At one time I thought it perfectly acceptable, if not desirable, to change jobs/professions every year or so. I didn’t worry about the future, assuming I would always find a way to muddle through. I’m still muddling through.
Wow John that's quite a journey!
Thanks for sharing with us about your family,writing ups and downs and the road to Kindle publishing. Best of luck to your books and new book The Ghost of a Flea.
And thanks to Mr. Brinling I have THREE ebook copy's of The Ghost of a Flea to giveaway to one of my readers. To enter please just leave a comment and a way to get in touch with you. Winner will be drawn Feb 18 2011.
The Ghost Of A Flea- A murder mystery. Action thriller. A strong romantic subplot.
Time: 1975. Location: New York City.
The murder of Roger’s musician friend, Gideon Whiting, turns Roger’s world up-side-down. His wife, Natalie, lies to him. His best friend, Ted, lies to him. His boss and U.S. Senate candidate, Charlie Holt, lies to him. And Lieutenant Tarrington, a homicide detective, is convinced Roger killed Gideon—but is Tarrington who he claims to be, or is he lying, too? Peggy Curtis, the blond bombshell who dropped into Roger’s life one snowy night after he left Gideon’s apartment, might be the only person who can unravel the Gordian knot facing Roger, yet she has serious credibility problems, and is the last person he would want to rely on with his life and freedom on the line.
The drug cartel masterminding much of the chaos seeks an address book it thinks Roger took from Gideon. As their ruthless pursuit intensifies, the police learn of the book and join the chase. The problem is, Roger doesn’t have what they want and he must get it before they decide he is expendable.
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