Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Talk with Stephen L. Brayton

Stephen's a litte more serious than yesterday's guest.
And he can follow directions.

 1. What drew you to the subject of Night Shadows?

I sometimes listen to a radio program that features subjects of the paranormal, supernatural, a little science, astronomy, etc. This particular night the host and guest discussed shadow creatures. Immediately, my creative juices started to burble or flow or whatever creative juices tend to do. I asked myself, “What if the shadows killed people?” Then I answered, “Cool!” The homicide investigator’s character came first followed soon after with the F.B.I. agent. A little research, a little shifting around of scenes, and ta-da, Night Shadows.

  1. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

I used many places around the Des Moines metro area and I visited each one to get realistic descriptions. Soon, I had all but one place located. I still needed a place to put the portal from which the shadows emerge. I searched for months looking at various places. A cemetery, a downtown art project, the skywalk. (I made a security guard a little suspicious with my poking around in stairwells, looking into corners, and such). Finally, a friend suggested an art exhibit in one of the Principal owned buildings. I booked a tour and when we entered the room, I knew I had found the place. The room actually exists and the public can view the ‘window’ that is used in the book. Whether it is actually an inter-dimensional portal, well, one never knows…

  1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

I had an idea for a high school classmates tribute series, whereby the main character, years after graduation, visits each of his classmates to reestablish the bond they had all formed back in school. Each book would be a different adventure based upon the type of job each classmate had. I wanted the first story to contain a love interest and then to have the love interest end up partnering with the main character throughout the stories. I actually completed the story and it’s sitting in a box in the closet. This was many years ago before I discovered editing, critique groups, and the work authors needed to do to be published. By then I was onto other stories. Who knows, though, I may dig out the story one day…

  1. How many rejections have you received?

I printed out every email rejection and kept the ones I received in the mail. (including the two I received after I was contracted with Echelon and almost two years after I sent the query. I have a stack about three inches thick of rejections. (Rubber banded, of course.)

  1. What’s your writing schedule?

I have loads of free time at work since my hours are 11p-7a. I rarely see anyone. I will either write at the beginning of the night, or near the end of the shift. I’m in the middle of a rewrite and I’m taking it a chapter at a time. However, I’m stalled on it so I jumped to another project and am writing, again, about a chapter at a time.

  1. What three things would you want with you on a desert island?

I only get to pick three? Shucks, that means I have to narrow it down to Miss May, Miss October, and…oops, sorry about the pig part of me rearing up again. Let’s see. Well, first I’d have to have enough food to last however long I was forced to stay on the island and I’m not talking K-rations, either. I’d love to take all my books I have yet to read. Finally, since we’re playing “What if…” well, yeah, I guess I gotta go with an attractive woman willing to share the island with me.

  1. What’s your favorite food?

Seafood – crabs, oyster, lobster, catfish. My best meal was a crab boil at my relatives who live in Raceland, Louisiana. They put the crabs and other goodies in a big cooker, then dumped the whole mess onto newspaper covered tables. We all pulled ourselves up to the proverbial trough and snarfed till we could snarf no more.

  1. What do you do when you are not writing?

Fishing, taekwondo, reading (duh!), and I’d really love to get back to playing racquetball, but I dropped my membership at the Y and they have the only courts in town. I’m also a book reviewer for Suspense magazine.

  1. What is your favorite writing reference book and why?

The Novelist Boot Camp by Todd Stone. It has everything from developing plots and creating characters to editing drills. I attended part of his seminar at the Love Is Murder conference back in ’07. I refer to the book when I’m in the rewrite/editing stage.

  1. What was your favorite scene to write?

There is a scene where these two guys enter a strip bar, watch the shows, decide to purchase time in private rooms, and end up being casualties when the shadows attack. Yes, the strip bar is based on a real one in Des Moines although I change the name and description. I liked writing the scene because it has a little bit of humor before the blood starts flowing. Oh, I also enjoyed the scene in the library where I kill off a critique group. I couldn’t resist.


dkchristi said...

Very nice interview with interesting questions that lead me to reading the story.

Stephen L. Brayton said...

I had my choice of about 30 or 40 questions to answer only 10. I hadto think a little on some of them. Thanks!