Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Talking Tuesday with Author Brian McClellan

I am excited to get the opportunity to introduce Brian McClellan and his debut novel Promise of Blood to any of our readers who haven't  heard of him yet. 
Author Brian McClellan
Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

He began writing on Wheel of Time role playing websites at fifteen. Encouraged toward writing by his parents, he started working on short stories and novellas in his late teens. He went on to major in English with an emphasis on creative writing at Brigham Young University. It was here he met Brandon Sanderson, who encouraged Brian’s feeble attempts at plotting and characters more than he should have.

Brian continued to study writing not just as an art but as a business and was determined this would be his life-long career. He attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp in 2006. In 2008, he received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.

In November 2011, PROMISE OF BLOOD and two sequels sold at auction to Orbit Books.   Book one hit the shelves in April of 2013.

The Powder Mage Trilogy
Book One
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving.  But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and greedy scrambling for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies:  the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.  Stretched to his limit Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.  Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth.  No modern educated man believes that sort of thing.  But, the thing is, they should.

Having a series launch in April, while submitting book two keeps an author busy.  Luckily I pulled Brian away from his writing and revisions long enough for an interview. 

MMW:  I read that you started writing about 10 years ago. Was there any particular event or story that started it all for you?

BMc: When I was around fifteen or sixteen, I really got into Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books. I found that there was a decent online community and I joined thousands of other fans writing and sharing fan fiction.

I went through that phase pretty quick—no more than a few months—but it taught me that I quite enjoyed writing. My mom signed me up for a week-long summer writing class at BYU. Everyone really seemed to love my stories and I decided that maybe I wanted to do this for a living.

I've been working at it ever since.

MMW:  Are you an outliner or a pantser?

BMc: Definitely a mix. I like to make a general outline before I start the book, and then I work off of single-chapter outlines as I go. That being said, if things don't feel right for the narrative I will veer off those outlines without hesitation (and I frequently do).

MMW:How long did you allow the idea for Promise of Blood to mature before you began writing?  How long after beginning were you ready to begin querying?

BMc: I brainstormed for several months, maybe even close to half a year before I started writing. The writing itself took me about five months.

I actually sent out queries only a week after finishing my first draft. This is a BIG no-no. Agents only want to see your most polished stuff, and I knew that. My logic was that it would be several months before I heard back from anyone and that would give me time to polish.

Imagine my surprise when I started getting partial manuscript requests less than a week later. A week after that, I had two offers of representation.

I don't think I've ever told my agent that. Mostly because I can already see the head shake she'd give me.

MMW: The process of finding an agent and publish is one of the most stressful times for writers.  How did you navigate through the process?

BMc: Finding the agent was abnormally quick for me. Everything I had been taught was that it would take me forever to find an agent and then forever for her to find a publisher.

So I psyched myself out for it. I went through days of nail-biting before I managed to calm down and tell myself that it would be months and there was no use worrying... and then I got that quick turnaround where seven different agents asked for sample chapters.

The most stressful part for me was that my agent wanted to edit the book with me and she really put me through the ringer. I must have rewritten over half of Promise of Blood by the time we were finished a year later. During that time I lost my job, was unemployed for six months, got a minimum wage job that I hated, and then a better job—and so I'd gone through so many highs and lows that I thought my hair was going to turn gray.

I got through it with frequent talks with my agent and with the loving support of my wife and family.

MMW:You attended the Orson Scott Card writers boot camp.  Please share with our readers the impact this experience has had on your writing?

BMc: It was a very good experience. I met many talented writers that I'm still in contact with today and got to go through a rigorous week of writing that helped prepare me to be a full-time author (even though that last bit wouldn't come for six years).

MMW:Are there any other writing blogs, books, conferences, or podcasts that you have found particularly helpful?

BMc: I absolutely adore Chuck Wendig's Terribleminds blog, but he uses a great deal of very strong language. If you feel you can get past said language he gives excellent advice for writers of all kinds.

I like to listen to the Speculate! podcast, as well as Brandon Sanderson's Writing Excuses. Both of those are cool ways to get inside the heads of various authors.

MMW: What is your advice to our readers who hope to see their own work in print?

BMc: Same advice I always give: keep writing. Don't give up. There are lots of highs and lows in writing and sometimes it seems like the lows vastly outnumber the highs. You have to push through it.

Thanks, Brian.  We appreciate your time and advice.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails