Florida journalist and novelist, Brian Bandell, returns to Writers Alive to discuss his latest crime thriller, Famous After Death. Here is the link to his prior podcast interview. Enjoy!
- What does your writing process look like?
I often talk a walk and imagine the scene coming together. I don’t write on the Jewish Sabbath so when it ends after sundown I’m eager to start on my novel. I go into the office, shut out the lights, have a hot green tea and put on some music. I listen to songs that match the mood of the story, anger, danger, fear, vulnerability, and so on. I listen and think about the scene and the characters until the story pours out of me.
2. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
When writing fight scenes I’ll on occasion jump around the room shadow boxing.
3. What book do you wish you could have written?
I would be the co-writer of Private Parts, the story of Howard Stern.
4. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
I love the pacing and suspense of Dean Koontz. Scifi writer Ben Bova has terrific twists in his books and constantly puts key characters in danger.
5. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
First the teenager delinquents. The tech savvy horror movie fanatic Jorge would be played by Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family). Spoiled skater brat Kelso would be Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood). Sadistic bully Chris would be Jackson Nicoll (Bad Grandpa - when he gets a little older).
Religious cyber cop Clyde would be Seamus Dever (Castle). Loose cannon officer OC would be Sarah Silverman.
Hopefully they won’t break my budget.
6. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
The names should be memorable and not milk toast. They should be catchy. Some should lead to nicknames. When it’s an ethnic name, I often look through baby name lists to see what is common in that culture and I pick one that sounds good or has an appropriate meaning.
7. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Speaking to young authors and inspiring them to write.
8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I should really start thinking ahead. I take on writing story by story, whether it’s a news article or a novel. I want to write a novel that gets people talking and excited.
9. Were you already a great writer? Have you always like to write?
In sixth grade a filled a notebook with a fantasy story. I learned a valuable lesson. Pencil fades over time. I started writing serious novels in college at the University of Miami. My first book release with a publisher was about a decade later, and it was the third novel I completed. When those “practice novels” didn’t find a home, I wrote another. That’s the best way to improve.
10. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Understand your main characters before you start writing. What are their goals and why should the reader care? Readers need to root for or against the characters for the story to matter.
11. If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?
I almost went into music engineering. I recorded music in high school. When I got to college, I opted for journalism.
12. Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I develop detailed character profiles and outlines for my novels. When it’s time to write a scene, I have a general idea what needs to happen and what it’s setting up down the road. When there’s a twist in the story, an outline allows me to plan it out.
13. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read my reviews and I’ll share them on social media. There’s no sense responding to them, but I will thank a reviewer for writing them without commenting on what they said. I’ve been lucky to have very positive feedback.
14. What is your best marketing tip?
Make friends at independent book stores.
15. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
When I look for book review sections in publications, realizing how few of them actually have book reviewers on staff. Many papers pick up book reviews from the handful of papers or wire services that still employ them.
16. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I have great respect for people who write historical fiction, but I would have a hard time with it. Not only does it require tremendous research, you have to take the point of view of a historical figure and doing it the wrong way could seriously upset people.
17. Do you have a favorite conference to attend? What is it?
The Miami International Book Fair. I’ve attended, spoken and introduced people there. It’s a fantastic environment for authors.
18. Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
Writing a funny scene on purpose can be difficult. Comedy comes out naturally in the story, like banter between the characters. Sort of by accident, but not part of the plot.
19. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
"Famous After Death" is my second novel. My debut was “Mute", a murder mystery with a science fiction twist. Think X-Files set in Florida with a mute girl who is the only witness to strange killings.
20. What are you working on now? What is your next project?
The sequel to “Mute”. It’s called “Silenced” and I’m editing the first draft. I had lots of fun writing scifi action scenes, many of them meant to terrorize. The heart of the story is a forbidden love, one that could literally destroy the world.
Blessed are the peacemakers...
a white cop, a black kid
Arnold Penxa is a white cop from black Detroit, Michigan determined to save the lives of children no matter the cost, no matter the color. He is an ex war veteran and retired Detroit policeman, now working for a private school security firm,and he sniffs out a conspiracy for a multiple school shooting. The problem is that nobody wants to believe him except for a few close friends, so he's forced to act mostly alone to bust up the plot. Forget the usual suspects. This is the Mad Motor City where the line between common sense and criminal behavior is never clear.
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