Sunday, 13 January 2013

Author Interview: Brett Davis

About the Author

Brett O’Neal Davis is a native of Florence, Ala., and attended the same high school as Sam Phillips, who discovered Elvis Presley. He studied journalism at the University of North Alabama and the University of Missouri, writing about music whenever possible. He also briefly “fronted” the one-man punk band Screwhead. Despite clearing $1.50 in profit on consignment sales of the band’s lone album at Salt of the Earth Records in Columbia, Mo., he turned to the slightly more stable world of aerospace and defense journalism, working today in the field of unmanned systems and robotics in Washington, D.C.

He is the author of four science fiction and fantasy novels, all published by Baen Books. The first, The Faery Convention, was listed among the best fantasy novels for 1995 by Science Fiction Chronicle, and Two Tiny Claws was named to the 2000 Books for the Teen Age List by the New York Public Library. An occasional panelist at area science fiction conventions, he also has discussed fiction writing at National Press Club events and at literary festivals, including the annual T.S. Stribling celebration at the University of North Alabama. Mama Lona’s Man is his first foray into paranormal romance, but it won’t be the last.

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

First of all, I'd like to thank Annette for this opportunity. Now, to answer the question … A little bit of both. Often I will create a detailed outline of a story, then I end up not looking at it again. Or I'll charge out in the beginning and then have to stop midway through and create a detailed outline to get me to the end. I usually know the beginning and ending, but sometimes I have to build a pretty elaborate bridge to get from here to there.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

They have been known to do that, and I consider it a good omen when they try. Most of the time they won't completely take over, but they'll at least bang on the glass and get my attention.

What is your favourite food?

Speaking generally, I would have to say Italian. I must have been Italian in a previous life. If I ever get stranded on a desert island, I hope it's a desert island off the coast of Italy and they have a nice little restaurant there. Speaking specifically, I would have to say peanut butter.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Night owl, definitely. Left to myself I would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning and then sleep late Unfortunately I have not found a career track that supports such hours, but hope springs eternal.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

Mongolia, for some reason. Can't say exactly why. Maybe because I like big, open skies and windswept plains, and I think they got 'em.

Do distant places feature in your books?

Sometimes. My latest, “Mama Lona's Man,” takes place partly the Caribbean. Three of my earlier books took place out West, in Montana and Las Vegas, so I guess I have a penchant for writing about the American West. My first book took place in an alternate Washington, D.C., which seems exotic to some but I actually live there so it doesn't count for me. I am planning to turn “Mama Lona's Man” into a short series and travel to exotic locations will definitely be on the agenda.

Do you listen to music while writing?

Not usually. Occasionally if I'm in a noisy environment I might resort to earphones, but I tend to write later in the evening when things are quieter. The problem I have with it is that I tend to just listen to the music instead of getting any writing done.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

It's a girl-meets-zombie romance … “Mama Lona’s Man” is a fast-moving, funny, sometimes bittersweet tale about a young woman who meets the love of her life, only there’s one hitch: He’s a zombie. But not that kind of zombie. As Rolling Stone once said about Jim Morrison, the title character of this novel is hot, sexy, and dead.

Abigail Callisto is a brilliant, troubled college student living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. When her father’s shadowy government employer sends him to the Caribbean to tamp down a pending coup attempt on the small island nation of Petit Royale, she goes along so he can also keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble. She thinks it’s a lark; she has no idea her life is about to change forever.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

Rewriting is the key, I think. Sometimes you can get very creative in the first draft but it's rarely something that doesn't benefit from more work. I have found it beneficial to write something, let it sit for a while and then go back and revisit it with fresher eyes.

Is there anything you would do differently?

Make several million dollars. But seriously, probably not. I have always been able to work on things that interested me, which is a requirement for something that can take a year or more to complete. Some of my projects worked out better than others, but I enjoyed the process all along the way and you can't ask for much more than that.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

I have been a journalist of some sort or other my entire adult life, so I have learned to write fast and clean. That's good, in that I can produce a pretty large amount of material quickly, but it's bad because sometimes I write too fast and the words are not as poetic as I might like.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

Just stick with it. Writing can be a tough game and there's plenty of rejection to go around. If you never experience it, count yourself among the lucky few. If you do, just keep your head up, try to learn from your mistakes and keep working. There's really no reason to ever stop trying, as long as you enjoy the experience of writing itself.

What are three words that describe you?

Funny. Determined. Pragmatic.

What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

I read widely and admire a great many authors, so I rarely tend to answer this question the same way twice. I know that one book I have loved is “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, so that will be my answer this time.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book

Mama Lona’s Man combines a Caribbean love story with a zombie thriller. It’s a bit James Bond, a bit "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" and a dash of "Night of the Living Dead." The leading man is a ex-Navy SEAL controlled by a witch doctor. When he meets an American girl caught up in island intrigue, they fall in love even though he's been dead longer than she's been alive.

List of previous books if any

The Faery Convention
Hair of the Dog
Bone Wars
Two Tiny Claws

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.


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