APKY/AMP: Hello Michaelbrent. Nice to have you here although my heart rate got a jolt at your book covers. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
My inspiration definitely came from the room next door. My father was one of the first academics to champion the idea that "horror" (aka Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and their ilk) wasn't just dime-store junk; it was real literature. So for years I went to sleep to the sound of typing and/or the sound of screaming, depending on whether he was watching a horror movie or writing about a horror movie or book. I was, essentially, doomed from the start.
APKY/AMP: Well, if doomed spells bestsellers, more of us will welcome it. Have you ever considered other genres?
I'm probably best known for my horror and thriller novels, like my most recent bestsellers APPARITION and THE HAUNTED. That beings aid, I've also written the first book in a YA fantasy series called BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS (almost done with the sequel, for all you folks who are emailing me constantly about that!), and in my screenwriting I'm even more varied: action, adventure, drama, thrillers, you name it.
APKY/AMP: Wow, that’s quite an about turn, perhaps. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The first message in each and every novel I write is: I hope you enjoy yourself! I say this to the reader, not the book. I'm not crazy. I know because my imaginary psychiatrist released me from full-time care last week. Where was I? Squirrel! Oh, yes...
The message in my most recent novel, APPARITION, is to cherish your loved ones. The story is of a family - mother, father, brother, sister - who love one another and also (gasp!) seem to LIKE each other as well. Then something changes. The mother tries to murder her children with a knife. The dad saves them, and the mother turns the knife on herself. A year later, this loving father has taken his kids to a new place to heal... and HE starts experiencing these desires to murder his children. He has to move fast to figure out what is motivating him - as it motivated his wife - to do this awful deed. So ultimately the story is about loss of loved ones and of self. We must cherish our relationships. They're potentially the strongest things in our lives, but simultaneously so very fragile.
APKY/AMP: I’m beginning to enjoy this interview Michaelbrent. Tell us what you’ve had published to-date?
That's a long list. I'd say just check out my website, http://michaelbrentcollings.com or simply type in "michaelbrent" on the amazon search bar and all my work will pop right up.
APKY/AMP: Handy, that one. Do you have any advice for other writers?
I do. I'm actually running a seminar in November called All Write that will be a comprehensive "how to write fiction" series. The info on that can be found at http://michaelbrentcollings.com/AllWrite.html. I'll give you a hint of some important info now, though: WRITE! A person who writes is a WRITER. A person who doesn't never will be.
APKY/AMP: I might join in especially to learn how to write scripts. But why should we buy your book?
'Cause it's like a giant can of awesome sauce shrinkwrapped in a plastic coating of coolness.
Also, because it's extremely scary. I got calls/emails from major reviewers who were reading APPARITION who called to say a) how much they loved it and b) how many bad dreams they had over it. High praise for a novel that aims to scare.
APKY/AMP: It certainly is! How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Oodles (that's a technical term). As writers, we are more and more expected to get out there and shill for our own work, so I'm constantly blogging, putting stuff up on my Facebook fan page, I go to genre conventions... if there's a place to gab about my stuff, I'm there!
APKY/AMP: I’ll register for marketing lessons with you, Michaelbrent – if you offer them, that is. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
I actually have been a semi-finalist and quarter-finalist multiple times for the Nicholls Fellowship in screenwriting, which is probably the most prestigious screenwriting competition in the world. So that definitely helped me get my feet in a few doors. But even in that case, you have to do a lot of work to get the rest of the way inside.
APKY/AMP: We do have to, don’t we? Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Anywhere with wifi and a refillable Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper option. I like Krispy Kremes.
APKY/AMP: Lost me, friend. Haven’t even heard of these delicasies out here in Germany! J Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Nope, never have. So obviously I don't think they're vital in the sense that I'm doing pretty well and I don't have one. That being said, the more people you can get out there touting your work, the better off you usually are!
APKY/AMP: Agreed. What are you working on at the moment / next?
I just finished up a mystery novel, and now I'm finishing up the final touches to my novel BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS, which is called BILLY: SEEKER OF POWERS (I know, totally creative!). And after that I'm moving onto something called HOOKED which (I hope) will be kind of the anti-Twilight.
APKY/AMP: Way to go. Do you manage to write every day?
At least five days a week. Awesome.
APKY/AMP: And the best academy for a writer, right? What’s your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
I never suffer from it. I actually have written a series of articles on it, one of them at http://michaelbrentcollings.com/2012.07.22.DiePoopBirdDie.html. Basically, I think that most people suffering from "writers block" are really suffering from "the idea that the first draft has to be perfect block." Just write, people! Write total dreck if you must, but write! Mistakes are what God invented the "delete" button for.
APKY/AMP: Good. I hope you let AuthorMeProfessionals post your “writer’s block” articles on our blog, with credits to you of course. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
It depends on the story. Most books I have a general idea of where I'm starting and where I want to end up, but sometimes I outline very thoroughly. In MR. GRAY, for example, I dealt with an extremely complicated storyline, so I outlined everything down to the smallest detail. In my newest bestseller, APPARITION, I had an idea for a story that I just followed from place to place until it was time for the story to end. Both have sold well and both have had great critical reviews. APPARITION, in particular, has been scaring a lot of very prestigious horror reviewers, which is a great delight to me.
APKY/AMP: Okay. So, who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
My wife is always my first reader. She's tremendously supportive, smart, and she has a very highly developed BS-ometer. If her face scrunches up, I know I've written something that isn't clear or is too unsympathetic. Red pen comes out then.
APKY/AMP: You’re lucky there. We’re always advised not to involve family. What do you like to read?
APKY/AMP: KABOOM! Well put. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
I used to do a lot of martial arts and work out and play videogames. Now I'm a dad, so I do a lot of Dora the Explorer, Phineas and Ferd, and Voltron watching.
APKY/AMP: Okay. So now, where can we find out about you and your work?
My website is a good starting point! http://michaelbrentcollings.com. Failing that, just google my first name: there are a lot of "Michael"s out there, and a lot of "Brent"s, but I've never heard of another "Michaelbrent." Just google that and my website and amazon page will pop right up!
APKY/AMP: Thank you, Michaelbrent. All the best for further works.