An Interview With Brian
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
It’s not like I woke up one day wanting to be a writer; it kind of found me. I was in a meeting when I was still in law enforcement, and engaged in some of the banter being exchanged. Suddenly,
an epiphany hit me that there has never been any police series, book, or movie that delved exclusively with the behind-the- scene conversations that occur when the door closes and talk gets real. In short, there was a story that was crying to be told. I started drafting an outline that became the basis for the book known today as Hands Across the Sea.
Where do you get your ideas for a story?
Interestingly, I drew my inspiration for the way I wanted to weave
a compelling story from the HBO series, The Wire. The grit,
the dialogue, the politics, the reality of what can occur in a law enforcement agency gave the viewing public a lens inside. Being in law enforcement for over 25 years provided me with access on a host of topics many aren’t privy to or aware of beyond simply patrolling the streets. I can turn on the news or open the Internet, and find potential storylines, but I wanted to also include the human aspects of the personnel’s backstories, quirks, isms, beliefs, relationships with coworkers, family, and friends that shaped their mindsets, which sometimes bleeds over into their professional and personal lives, especially in these turbulent times when there’s such a huge divide between police officers and the public they’re entrusted to serve and protect. Law enforcement officers are flesh and bone individuals, and though they’re often held to a higher standard, they have contributing factors that can come to light.
Can you tell us about your writing journey so far? Both the ups and downs.
The writing journey, both up and down, has been an education for me that’s only made me wiser. While writing the first book, I never suffered the proverbial writer’s block, in fact, I probably wrote too much, but I found some quotes Ernest Hemingway that kept me focused: ‘Write what you know’, ‘Stop trying to figure out what to write and just write’ and ‘When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.’ I created and scripted various subplots and storylines together that when I finished, I had over 174,000 words! That was the fun part, then I was hit with a dose of reality. Paper and ink cost money; money that most publishing companies aren’t keen on investing on an unknown writing his first literary work. The downer is also marketing, but I became acclimated with it. I had to be my own PR firm, social media department and town crier. I’m just glad I also have a lot of support from people who’ve read the book, and spoke highly of it to others to get the word out and through various websites regarding advertising my book.
I eluded to it in the previous question, but I wanted to do an
end-around to get my book published without hindrances. I consulted with a literary agent, and when I told him the word count, he advised me that no traditional publishing company would undertake it because they usually want manuscripts with less than 120,000. Anything over that count, is destined to be round-filed.
What made you take the indie route?
The indie route can be expensive, if you consider, copyediting, proofreading, a decent publishing package, a catchy book cover design, a website, advertising, bookmarks, arranging a book signing, do you see where I’m heading? But despite the cost,
I would do it all over again, because I’m investing in me and my work. The best part is I’m in charge of the direction, content, and essence of the book without having to answer to anybody to take
a part out, puff up this chapter, etc. On a typical day, I can start banging away around 7 am, look up and it’s 3 in the afternoon.
I can get lost in my story development envisioning it enfold in my mind while I type away. Even while proofreading I’m constantly asking myself, is this part feasible? Does it hold my interest?
The process has definitely been liberating and exhilarating.
What is the hardest thing about being an indie and what are the best?
Do what you love and love what you do. If you’re writing solely to become rich and famous, you’re in for a rude awakening. Have fun and follow Ernest Hemingway’s words of wisdom.
What advice would you give another indie writer?
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently proofing my followup novel to Hands Across the
Sea called The Thin Blue Li(n)e. With each followup, I answer questions and inject brand-new ones, as well as, go into another direction with the writing style which slightly departs from the previous writings but the nexus of the storylines and colorful characters keeps the reader entertained and enthralled.
Who are your favorite authors?
Number one would be Stephen King. I’ve read practically every novel he’s written including the books under his pen name.
The man is a storytelling genius and has an innate sense of scaring the crap out of you with words. Amazing!
Number two would be Ralph Wiley. He awaken my consciousness with his book, “Why Black People Tend To Shout.” It’s a work of essays that every person of every nationality should read to get a better understanding of one man’s viewpoints of where we fit in the world. His book would have such relevance today if it were pushed to the mainstream. It stunned me when I learned he died unexpectedly, that’s how much he impacted me.
Last, but certainly not least, is Alex Haley. His book,
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” was riveting, but to me, “Roots” was his defining work. Though the mini-series, at the time,
was epic, it didn’t do his pages justice. It’s a timeless classic.