Welcome back to Part Two of Confessions interview with The Behrg!
Hopefully last night told you nearly all you need to know about the life and influences of Mr Behrg.
In tonight’s segment, we focus on his Creation Series with questions from both myself, and one of our newest reviewers, Kimberly.
After all of that, he will take on the mighty Ten Confessions.
It’s Tuesday go grab a coffee and a bun and sit back, and most of all…..enjoy!
CoaR – Moving on to The Creation Series, what is that all about? What did you want to achieve with it?
TB – The Creation Series was spawned by the question what if a god-like being started the process of the Creation over again. What would that look like if taken to extremes? Instead of day and night, for instance, you’d have blinding light and completed darkness. And what would it mean for the people, us, who are already here?
I loved the idea that in order to create, one must first destroy, though really the crux of this series is all about the characters that populate this world. It’s an ambitious project, straddling genres from science fiction to suspense to horror, but it’s been extremely rewarding.
CoaR – This style of story is very complex, especially when you are writing a series. Did it take much research?
TB – This is definitely the most challenging of the projects I’ve worked on. I literally have volumes of notes and pages I’ve printed out in researching and prepping for this series. From indigenous tribes to Creation myths to the fauna and flora of the Amazon Rainforest, I wanted this to feel as authentic as possible. It was really important to me for this not to feel like a thrown-together project but for it to have weight and be able to stand on its own.
CoaR – I couldn’t help but think, a few times, that it had an almost religious feel to it. Was this intentional? Does that part come from your background?
TB – Absolutely. The central idea of the book is obviously linked to the Biblical “Creation story,” though a much more disturbed and extreme version. While I do come from a religious background it’s extremely important to me that my writing not come across as “religious fiction.” There’s no agenda, no preaching or even characters with answers, only ones with questions.
That being said, almost all of my books, in one sense or another, explore religious ideals thematically at their roots. The idea of faith, family, or hope in the deepest, darkest pits; these are themes we can all identify with, regardless of our individual belief systems. What’s important to me is that these themes are approached subtly, layered within the story but never clobbering the reader over the head with them.
CoaR – Book Two, The Creation: Let There Be Death, starts from the very second book one finished. How did you decide where to break it up? What was the reasoning behind the cliff-hanger?
TB – I’m not a fan of cliff-hangers when it comes to books, yet the natural break in this series fell at just such a point. It definitely wasn’t something done as a gimmick, (at least not intentionally), but it enabled a drive to the second novel that I absolutely loved.
CoaR – Your descriptive writing to set the whole atmosphere and give the reader a sense of the imagery of the surroundings is superb. Is this all from your mind or have you actually been somewhere like the Venezuelan Rainforest?
TB – I’m fortunate to have lived in Venezuela for a few years and spent some time in the Amazon rainforest and the area where the series takes place (La Gran Sabana). It was an amazing time in my life, and I draw from both memories and research, intermingling the two. Glad to hear the setting and atmosphere are that memorable, I’ve tried to treat it like its own character, attempting to bring such an exotic locale to life, though words pale in comparison to the real thing.
Sadly, the political climate in South America and Venezuela, in particular, has taken such a turn for the worse, I’m not sure I’d feel as comfortable returning there now as when I was there almost 20 years ago, though one day I’d love to be able to return.
CoaR – When can we expect Book Three?
TB – Glad you asked! It’s slated for a 2017 release. I’m currently going through some heavy rewrites on it, but am hoping to see it published the first half of this year.
One of our mutual friends, Kimberly, heard that this interview was taking place and wanted to ask a couple of questions herself.
Take it away Kimberly!
K – Happiness is a Commodity spoke to me so much of the idea people have of “depression”, and that so few don’t actually understand what it feels like, or that it’s not merely a “lack of happiness”, it’s something that is out of our control.
I think you evoked that feeling so well in your book, by using the “government’s” control of dosing out increments of happiness. What gave you the idea for this story’s viewpoint in the first place?
TB – Happiness Is A Commodity is probably the most personal project I’ve written. Depression is something I have an intimate understanding of, my own “dark passenger,” as Dexter Morgan would call it, and yet it’s a subject that is still considered “taboo” and brushed under rugs all too often.
The idea behind the novella, of a world where happiness can only be felt when purchased by the government, was obviously spawned from my own struggles, but it was much more than that. I wanted to write a story that was a metaphor for what the world is like for all those who struggle with clinical depression. It’s something you can’t really understand unless you’ve been there. This was also a way for me to come to terms with the fact that this passenger is here to stay, and discovering what’s on the other side of that journey. To turn that experience into a story that still entertains was a fun challenge to take on.
K – You move effortlessly through the genres, incorporating whatever “fits” into your story lines. Although Housebroken was horror, I’d be hard-pressed to put your other stories into any single genre category. Do you plan this ahead of time, or simply let the characters and the story take you down the paths you need to go?
TB – Genre labels are really more for booksellers than authors, attempting to help someone who’s enjoyed such and such a book by being able to offer them something similar. One of the beauties of writing is that the only boundaries are the ones you construct yourself. I prefer lifting the box off of my writing and letting the story go where it demands. When the choices that take place within my novels surprise even me, I’m not as concerned with where I can categorize the book when it comes to that next stage of its shelf life as whether they feel right for the story being told.
K – The obvious question for a family man with a job: How/where do you find the time to write? Especially as the amount of depth you put into your characters and locations must take a lot of research up front.
TB – This is probably one of the most important questions for aspiring writers and one that potentially isn’t asked enough. Here’s the secret: there’s NEVER time to write. I have four young kids, an intense and demanding day job, church and community responsibilities, etc., etc. If I waited until I had time to write, I’d never write.
It’s all about carving out whatever time you can. Write during your lunch-breaks at work; wake up a little earlier, or don’t turn on the TV at night. You’d be surprised what time you can find when it becomes important to you. Focus on putting five hundred words down today, then tomorrow add five hundred or one thousand more. I’m not a fast writer, by any means; the trick is just being consistent.
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
It’s funny, but as an author you don’t see other authors as “competitors.” This is an industry where success breeds success, and it’s amazing to watch talented individuals begin to become noticed and then see their sales spike and stay consistent and then watch as they continue to put out amazing content until they really break through. We’re all rooting for each other, and we celebrate the wins together because we know how difficult they are to come by.
For me, I suppose, the “competitors” are the guys who are trying to game the system, who push out sub-par projects and turn to black-hat means to drive readers to their product. The people who give indie authors a bad rap and are in this solely for the money, not caring whether their “product” is any good.
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
That’s a tough one, because who am I to say what should or shouldn’t be published? That’s one of the things I love about books in general, for months or years this project is the author’s baby, consuming their time and energy and all of their thoughts, and yet once it’s published it’s no longer the author’s. It becomes an individual experience to each person who picks it up. I’m a big believer that every reader is entitled to their opinion based on the experience they had. It’s one of the reasons why negative reviews have never bothered me (though there is something to be said about discovering a positive review where the reader really “gets” what you were attempting to accomplish).
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
There are certainly moments sprinkled throughout my writing. For instance, in The Creation Series, the actor, Donavon, talks about working on a TV series called Monsters while he’s holed up with Kenny, avoiding the intense light of Day. The episode he talks about is an actual episode that I worked on when I was a kid.
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
I’ve got an unreleased project where I’ve absolutely ripped off a few of the conventional horror tropes, but it’s done purposely, in a quite unconventional manner. As far as blatantly stealing a scene, I always strive for originality. If something’s been stolen, it’s so deeply rooted in my subconscious I wasn’t even aware of it.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
If I really don’t enjoy a book, I typically choose not to leave a review rather than throw down a steaming pile of negativity, but I’ll add my opinions on something that just didn’t work for me. Here’s an example, my review of Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho:
I’m pretty active on GoodReads, and you can follow my reviews there.
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
My dance skills come close to topping any list of my “least proud” moments in life, reflecting back on the few times I’ve attempted to get on the dance floor. Seriously, if people say bad dancers have two left feet, then I have two cobbled hoofs, one of which may be broken. (My wife is a dancer btw; no idea how she puts up with my clumsiness).
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
Rather than the cop out answer of saying “my family,” I’m going to go with the fact that I purchased two Lego Simpson character packs when they first came out, only two, out of potentially hundreds of choices. The universe must have really liked me that day as I got both Itchy and Scratchy, making a complete set. (And yes, they’re on my writing desk).
Actually, I take that back. Gonna go with the family on this one.
8 What’s your biggest fault?
Going with the gentle questions, huh? I’m a pretty terrible friend. Not by choice or design, but I suppose my life is sort of over brimming at the moment with business and other things get moved to the backburner.
Only then I forget that the oven was ever on and what should have been a slow simmer is now scorching the pan and setting the fire alarm off. The dog’s barking in time with the alarm and the neighbors are coming over to see what’s going on, but in the back of my mind I’m planning the next get-together with my pals. (Been planning it for a while, now).
9 What is your biggest fear?
As a horror author, it’s not the monsters that scare you. My fears run along the lines of not getting to the stories I long to share, of having life shove the cart I’m travelling in from one track to another, one that no longer has room for me as a storyteller in it. Those other tracks can range from unexpected life transitions to permanent disabilities to staring into the blackness that is depression and never being able to crawl back out.
Fortunately, at least for me, writing is the cure for most of my maladies, the oil that keeps the cart plugging along.
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
If I went to confession, I’d probably have to confess to being there only as a means for research, then pester the priest with a hundred different questions. That’s one of the great things about being a writer is that even the most ordinary of conversations or outings can spawn ideas for scenes or stories themselves. Sometimes it’s the ordinary, when seen or presented from a unique angle, that becomes extraordinary.
Well unfortunately, that is the end of the interview with Mr Behrg.
We hope you have found it interesting and learnt enough about the man and his writing to go pick up one of his books. You won’t regret it.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for the review of Book Two in the series when we will provide you with all the links you need to add it to your collection.
I would just like to personally thank Brandon for his time in taking part in the interview. I know he is a very busy man and it was greatly appreciated.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!