This week, it is my pleasure to introduce the extremely talented, debut novelist Thomas Brown. Brown has a remarkable way with words and I have fallen in love with his writing through a short story group that I stumbled across, which Brown and I will discuss later in the following interview:
ENGLE: How long have you been writing, and in what genre would you classify your style?
BROWN: I have been writing for almost ten years now, although it is only in the last few years that I have started to share my work. I still have my first ever short story in a box underneath my bed, actually. It should probably remain there! I write dark, surreal fiction.
ENGLE: Yup, the infamous ‘drawer book’, that stays in a drawer FOREVER. Got one myself. Do you have a particular system for writing a book, such as outlining or discovering the ending first? Do you ever waver from it?
BROWN: I don’t have a particular system, except that I will chance across an idea or some imagery that really strikes me and needs exploring. I have to really fall in love with the concept, and from then on it is a marriage, with all the associated ups and downs. Most of my writing begins as a vignette; a short, sharp scene that really sings to me. Sometimes these scenes are self-contained, other times I need to know how they came about, or where it is that they lead, and from there they develop into short stories, or a book.
ENGLE: Excellent answer. What’s the most difficult part of the writing process or anything unexpected you encountered while writing this book?
BROWN: The language. I absolutely love language; the way words sound, the way they work together and the imagery they are able to evoke. Beautiful language is paramount because it enables me to eloquently convey dark themes in a way that is haunting and affecting. It is why I love to write. It also means that I am constantly self-aware, which can make writing longer works (and even short ones) a slow and sometimes painful process. Every word needs to justify itself.
ENGLE: Well, as a follower of your short stories, I have to say that your detailed craft is apparent and lends to your unique style. You’ve found a fan in me! Now, tell me about Lynnwood. What’s it about, where did the story idea come from?
BROWN: Lynnwood is a story about living and hunger. A background in hospitality has exposed me to countless situations where I have observed the relationship between these two things. On the outside, we are all parts of a society that expects us to get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, pay the bills, book the holidays, eat dinner with our knives and forks. Inside, we are flesh and blood and hot, heady urges, telling us to run and shout and gorge ourselves on life. I remember one incident in particular, which has stuck with me to this day, in which I observed a mild-mannered, well-to-do old lady sit down at a table one afternoon, butter and jam her scone, then proceed to cram it whole into her mouth. There was no sense of shame or dignity, or care that anyone might be watching. She painted her fingers and her face with crumby preserve and I remember thinking this is what we are. Underneath our floral shawls, our make-up, our sense of manners, we are hungry.
Lynnwood takes a typically civilised place, filled with perfectly proper people, and explores what happens when these two aspects come into conflict. It is about old fears and darkness and the Gothic notion of forests as wild, revealing places.
ENGLE: Where can I buy Lynnwood?
BROWN: The book is available digitally now and will be released in paperback June 17th. It can be purchased from most major retailers. Head over to http://www.tbrownonline.wordpress.com for more details.
ENGLE: Did you go through an agent, or a publishing house, or did you self-pub? Why did you choose that route?
BROWN: I went through a small, independent publishing house, in this instance, Sparkling Books. I chose to submit my writing to them because they seemed honest, supportive and accessible. I couldn’t have hoped for a better publishing experience to date, and have loved every part of the process.
BROWN: We are a group of writers sworn to writing and sharing dark fiction. Each week, one of us takes their turn to post a short piece of writing revolving around themes of angst and horror. Sometimes these are supernatural, other times realist, or absurd. We each have our own voices, our own styles, our own dark predilections. I think there is something for everyone here; our voices are all so different. And the writers themselves are wonderful people. Do check us out at http://www.penofthedamned.com . We love to hear your thoughts.
ENGLE: I love all you damned writers! Are you working on another project at this time that you’d like to tell us about?
BROWN: I am always writing one thing or another! There are a number of short stories I am currently working on, in addition to another book. I won’t reveal too much more because these things change so much in the making, but I am very excited for them to eventually see the light of day.
ENGLE: And finally, if you could be a Muppet which would you be and why?
BROWN: What a brilliantly revealing question! I think there’s a bit of Cookie Monster in all of us…
Please check out Lynnwood and hop over to Brown’s site to see what he’s up to. I promise he will not disappoint, even if you’re not a fan of horror. Writers supporting writers is the way we work. So, support this dynamic writer and pay it forward.