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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Author Interview: Brandt Legg

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 82nd in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the nature photographing, Brandt Legg, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Brandt:  I almost always write while listening to music. I choose the genre and songs based on what type of scene I’ll be writing – Instrumental new age can cover many moods; driving rock for chase scenes, angst songs for arguments, classical, pop, whatever. During my years in the radio business I created specific playlists just for writing.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Brandt:  Two of my favorites are Cormic McCarthy and Philip Roth. McCarthy creates prose that is more like art than anyone I’ve ever read and Roth because he simply makes brilliant writing seem so easy. I read writers like Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald as much for an education as for their great stories. I’ll read almost anything, I had a great time with Hunger Games.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Brandt:  That’s a great question. I wish I knew. My guess is they’d see some version of me scribbling notes in the dark, trying to anticipate every angle, figuring another way to write a scene, tracing plot threads, finding the holes. Or writing dialogue inspired by a song, a photo, or an overheard snippet of conversation. Maybe they’d see me revisiting a setting I’d written about and now I’m back, looking around, trying to find what I missed, and like me, would get very little sleep. Whatever they saw, wouldn’t mean much unless they read what came after.

Paul:  What is a typical day for you?
Brandt:  I’m up around 6 a.m. and writing right after breakfast, not stopping until noon. After that I check facebook, twitter, goodreads, emails and all the rest of an indie author’s promotional work. If I’ve gotten in a string of good writing days, I’ll become very distracted and obsessed with the story. If I don’t have good writing days, I become very distracted and obsessed with the story.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why?
Brandt:  Outview and my series, the Inner Movement trilogy, is populated by fifteen mystics (five in each book), along with a handful of more typical characters. The mystics are great fun to write and it’s hard for me to choose, but if you put a gun to my head, I’d take Spencer Copeland because he is wise and tortured, mysterious and burdened, revered and . . . you get the idea. But my favorite part about writing is when the characters begin to surprise me, when they take over a story and say and do things that I’m not sure I want them to, that’s when I know I’ve found the magic. And when that happens, they are all my favorites.

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?
Brandt:  My first novel Outview was published in January 2013 so I haven’t had too much time to make mistakes in publishing (although in other areas of my life, my mistakes are numerous). But with writing, I’d say I wish I’d begun building my platform much sooner. 
Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Brandt:  I spent twenty years not finding enough time to write and a few years ago decided it was now or never. I made some radical changes and structured my life in such a way that I could write and now do it seven days a week (with the occasional day off due to circumstances beyond my control).

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Brandt:  Please don’t tell them who lives and who dies in Outview or what Nate (the protagonist) discovers.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Brandt:  It’s fun to just run with it sometimes but for me, I think it’s much easier to get somewhere if you know where you are going. So I outline before I start and revise the outline as I go. I definitely allow myself considerable freedom in between those outline points and there are many times when the characters mutiny and I have to spend a day repairing and revising the outline to meet their demands.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Brandt:  I tend to overwrite which means on my Outview I edited out almost 18% of the story. On my second book I took out about 10%. Hopefully that trend will continue and I’ll only need to cut less than 5% on the book I’m writing now.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Brandt:  I try to write what I know so I’d call it more fact checking than research but since I like to have real places and real history in my fiction, a certain amount of research is required.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Brandt:  Outview is a coming-of-age thriller of mystics and magic. I drew on my own youth for the story but used metaphor and literary license, in order to tell a fantastical tale in an authentic way. The protagonist is on the run and doesn’t exactly know why or from whom. We figure it out as he does. The mystics help him (and us) understand this and many other things, ultimately revealing his destiny. Outview is book one of the inner Movement trilogy. Outin, book two was released in June. The final book is due in November 2013.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Brandt:  I’ve always been fascinated by the unseen world, things unexplained and the questions: What if nothing is as it seems? What if society has it all wrong? What if we’re missing all the really important stuff? What great ideas, wisdom, abilities were lost over human history? These questions are my quest in writing.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Brandt:  Non-fiction is what led me to writing. More than twenty years ago, I completed an as yet unpublished memoir entitled Teen Tycoon about my youth in business. From that moment on I knew two things: I wanted to spend my life writing books and I never wanted to be restricted by nonfiction again.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Brandt:  As much as possible. The challenge for every author is getting their work noticed by potential readers. How do we stand out from the millions of books available? Several best-selling authors told me, “use everything you’ve got.” I’ve been trying to follow their advice, you’re helping.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Brandt:  My favorite part is the writing. I’ve never known a greater high than creating a scene from nothing but an idea and then stringing it together with other scenes into a story that someone enjoys reading. I also like the marketing aspect, trying to develop new ways to bring attention to my books. It’s the best time in history to be a writer. We have all the tools to write, publish and reach readers like never before. How fantastic!

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Brandt:  I’m also a nature photographer, but at least for me, I’ve found that it’s difficult to succeed at more than one thing at a time. One must make a choice . . . and I’m an author. I still take photos for my own pleasure but I no longer pursue it as a career. Writing is the most exciting thing I could imagine doing.

Paul: Thanks, Brandt, that was very interesting. I wish you every success for the future.

About Brandt Legg: Brandt Legg is a former child prodigy who turned an interest in stamp collecting into a multi-million dollar empire. At eight, Legg's father died suddenly, plunging his family into poverty. Two years later, while suffering from crippling migraines, he started in business.

National media dubbed him the "Teen Tycoon," but by the time he reached his twenties, the high-flying Legg became ensnarled in the financial whirlwind of the junk bond eighties, lost his entire fortune... and ended up serving time in federal prison for financial improprieties.

Legg emerged, chastened and wiser, one year later and began anew in retail and real estate. From there his life adventures have led him through magazine publishing, a newspaper column, photography, FM radio, CD production and concert promotion.

Brandt's Website: Brandt Legg
Brandt on Twitter: @BrandtLegg
Brandt on Facebook: Brandt Legg
Brandt's latest book: Outview - The Inner Movement (Amazon)

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