Brad: Music is an essential part of my writing. My Pandora radio stations are packed with everything from smooth jazz to classic rock. Generally I tend to favor the music that is purely instrumental. Lyrics can often be distracting. However, when I’m in the mood, Sade can often lure me into a frenzied state of creativity. Next to my humming speakers there’s always a drink, something cool, but not always. Often a hot cup of coffee, even in the evening hours, will help to entice the muses.
Paul: What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Brad: YA literature captures my attention most. I’m a big fan of Robert Comier, though his themes can be a little dark at times. Nevertheless, as far as inspiration goes, I often find myself turning to Stephen King. His use of description and masterful storytelling encourages me. I can’t help but believe that with enough exposure to his writing that I may someday emulate his creativity and put out some writing that people will be talking about and reading for years to come.
Paul: If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Brad: I think they would see very simple, unadorned scenes that take shape well before my fingers ever touch a keyboard. They would, without a doubt, find themselves edging toward unconsciousness because I do most of my imaginings just before I nod off at night. The cool thing is, I don’t forget the scenes I imagined the night before. When the new day dawns, I remember the ideas clearly. Later, in the evening, I transfer those thoughts onto my word processor.
Paul: What is a typical day for you?
Brad: I know that I would love to say that my typical day is a regimented writing schedule, interspersed with moments of exercise, research and pleasure reading. However, the truth is that I am, like many new writers, still working a day job. Currently I teach middle school Humanities to a very large and noisy group of 8th graders. My day is filled with lesson planning, parent/teacher meetings, and dealing with student behavior issues - both the good and the bad. It’s not until I get home at night that I begin my writing. After dinner I often head upstairs to my comfortable home office. The music comes on and I try my best to listen to the voice of the muse, remembering my imaginings from the night before. I write for 2-3 hours before the night finally ends.
Paul: Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Brad: Zeke Proper, of course, is the main character in my series, along with his little brother Devon, but the character that often makes me smile as I imagine him and try to develop his character is the boys’ grandfather, John Proper. John reminds me of my own grandfather who passed away many years ago. John is the personification of freshly turned gardens with rich black dirt, the calm of the open ocean, the smoke from autumn leaves burning in an old barrel. He is the archetypical man who toils in the backyard, nets fish from the sea, and harvests fresh vegetables from a well-tended garden. He is the one who rakes a neighbors leaves without being asked; he is the reader of good books. John is the true companion of a loving wife whose hand he holds with his own calloused hands. That is why I love my character John Proper.
Paul: In all the years you've been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it?
Brad: My experience has taught me that being a writer is great, but without an awesome editor you are nothing. The first work I published was awful. I thought I could do it all on my own, but as a writer you don’t see the mistakes, you only see what should be there. Having your best friend or your wife read it doesn’t help either. They’ll only tell you what you want to hear. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. So find an editor who’ll be straight up. Find someone who’ll tell you it sucks when it really does. A little embarrassment and frustration early on is much better than years of regret every time you open your own book.
Paul: How do you find the time to write?
Brad: Finding time to write is really not a problem. My problem is often finding the motivation to write. Because I work teaching kids all day in middle school, I discover that by the evening I’m exhausted. The lure of a soft couch and a television is often hard to pull away from. But I’ve found that if I force myself up to my office, close the door, get the music rolling, and start tapping away, even if it’s not quite the scene I’d initially imagined, that the time suddenly passes very quickly. And, before I know it, 3 hours have slipped by and I have five to six hundred words that I can be proud of.
Paul: What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Brad: When I read my work after I’ve written a lengthy portion, I will often read out loud and with an English accent. For some reason it makes it sound better. From time to time I will peek outside my office door just to make sure no one is listening.
Paul: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Brad: I mentioned earlier that most of my creativity comes on at night, just as I’m dozing off. Those images are often very simple scenes without a lot of fluff to go with them. When I finally sit down to write I begin with the scene and then just let the story take over. It’s amazing the direction the story will lead you if you just let it. I know that there are a lot of writers who use storyboards, outlines, etc., but I’ve never found them helpful. I believe the story wants to tell itself and develop, and it will, if you’re patient and you allow it.
Paul: Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Brad: Research plays a very big part in my writing. It’s important for me to be as accurate as I can with respect to the Norse myths. In my YA series, characters from Norse Mythology come to life in the present. In my research I’ve discovered that the early Norse people had a tough existence, their deities reflected much of that life. I’ve tried my best to be true to that theme, describing the gods as they might have been imagined by the early Norse.
Paul: What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write this book.
Brad: My most recent novel, The Serpent’s Ship, Book Two in the Zeke Proper Chronicles, was published in the summer of 2012. It’s a continuation of the adventures Zeke and his family go through in Odin’s Light. With this second book I found myself taking more chances with my characters, putting them in situations that even made me feel a little uncomfortable. There were times when I literally had to step back and say, “whoa, can I really allow this character to go through this?” But allowing my characters to take more chances and experience some rather painful events became somewhat cathartic for me. In the end I was very pleased with the outcome and especially pleased when I’d hear from a fan who would ultimately say, “I can’t believe that happened. I never saw it coming.”
Paul: What do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Brad: I live in a very beautiful part of the world, the Pacific Northwest, and when I’m not writing and the weather cooperates, I like to spend time riding the hilly landscape either on my road bike or on my motorcycle. It calms me and I find that I never tire of the scenery. Exercise is also an important part of my daily routine. I find that it actually energizes me and keeps my mind clear and more creative.
Paul: That was wonderful, Brad. I wish you every success for the future.
Paul: That was wonderful, Brad. I wish you every success for the future.
Brad's Blog: Zeke Proper Chronicles
Brad on Twitter: @camgang817
Brad on Facebook: Zeke Proper Chronicles
Brad's latest book: The Serpent's Ship (Amazon)
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