Today I’m welcoming Bryan Young to my blog with an insightful interview. Please pull up a chair and grab something from the bar.
BRYAN YOUNG INTERVIEW
Operation: Montauk is a time-traveling science fiction novel patterned after the pulp-adventure stories of the 1920s and 1930s.
Lost in time after a failed attempt to kill Hitler before his rise to power, World War II soldier Cpl. Jack Mallory finds himself stranded, his whole team killed, nearly 100 Million years off course. Together with a group of other wayward time travelers, Mallory has to fight to survive in a hostile environment swarming with dinosaurs. Desperate to find a way home, the community of lost travelers searches for any solution that might send them all home and unlock the secret that shipwrecked them on the shores of time...
But the jungle holds a secret from Mallory's future-past...
...and it's out to kill them all!
What inspired you to become a writer??
My inspiration to become a writer started very early. I was winning writing contests in elementary school, but that first great spark came with a creative writing class in 8th grade, followed by a few years of journalism in the following years. I sold my first short story between my junior and senior year in high school and things have been escalating from there. It’s been simply a need for as long as I can remember.
What character(s) of your book(s) do you most relate to??
You know, in Operation: Montauk, I think the character I might relate most to is Richmond. He’s in a potentially lethal situations and he approaches them all with such child-like wonder. He’s inquisitive and curious and he just has a great voice. In a lot of bad situations I’ve been in, I’ve always tried to find the silver linings, perhaps not with as much wonder as Richmond, but it’s something I aspire to.
How do you visualize your stories? By dreams? Inner monologue with your characters, dreams, etc.?
I visualize my stories like they’re movies. I love movies and I love books that mimic the structure of movies. In fact, the first time I decided I could write a book, it was after binging on Graham Greene novels. That guy knows how to pack a movie into a couple of hundred pages. That’s why my books will rarely go past that 50-70,000 word mark. I just think in movies. Sometimes things come to me in dreams, often they just come out of me asking questions. What would this be if things were like that? What would that over there look like with this attached to it? etc...
What is your writing ritual? Music?? Silence? Meditation?
I find I do my best writing in the mornings. I used to be one of those guys that would write all night, but I work to hard with my brain during the day, so I need to get up even earlier and give my best work to myself instead of clients or employers or anyone else. I usually get to my local coffee shop at about 6 when they open and spend 2 or 3 hours there. I’m usually not bombarded with emails at that point of the day, either, so it’s easier to remain free of distractions.
And the coffee helps.
What inspired you to write Operation: Montauk?
Montauk came out of a lot of things. The first was that I had an idea for how time travel could work that I found to be very original. I kept pitching it to writer friends and I’d get the same reaction. It was something along the lines of, “Huh. That’s really cool, actually. I’ve never thought about thinking about it like that.”
So, I had that spine to it, but I didn’t have any meat to put on those bones for a while.
One night, as I was reading a bedtime story to my son I realized that I should be writing a story I could be reading to him that he’d like. Since we were quite enjoying the John Carter of Mars books, I tried to figure out why. Mainly, it was that the action was breathless and every chapter ended on a cliffhanger that made us want to keep going. Then, it was easy to look around and fit together the pieces of things my son and I loved seeing in books and movies. Dinosaurs, World War II soldiers, Nazis, scientists, monkeys, etc.
Then I went off like a shot. The first draft came out very quickly and the revisions came almost just as easy.
If you could be a book genre? Which one would you choose and why??
If I could choose a book genre to be by myself? I think I’d be the sort of historical romance fiction that guys like Hemingway and Graham Greene used to write. Even Fitzgerald to an extent. I love the feeling of pursuing the perfect woman, only to find she’s flawed and the hero’s flawed and things go awry, and sometimes a war gets in the way... Things like that. What genre do they call that? That’s what I’d like to be. Romantic, action packed, and well-written.
What knowledge do you want to share with aspiring authors like myself??
Keep writing. I know that seems simple, but if you’re writing every day, then you’re a writer.
And there’s no such thing as writer’s block. If you’re struggling with a story, move on to a different one until you figure out how to get past your road block. It will loosen up if you let it, just don’t be afraid to distract yourself with another writing project, a screenplay, another book, a short story, something...
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things would you bring and why??
I’ll assume that food, water, and shelter are taken care of, otherwise this would be a very boring list. There are a few things I just can’t get along without.
First: My family. If I have to suffer on a desert island, they need to be there, too. Maybe it’s because I’m answering these questions at a time where I haven’t really seen my kids this month because we’ve all been travelling in different directions, but I would have a hard time going without them. Does that count? I think so.
Second: Notebooks. I do so much writing in my notebook that I’d go insane if I didn’t. It’s how I work out stories, it’s how I talk to myself without getting committed, it’s where I write first drafts.
Third: Pens. How could I write in the notebook without pens?
Fourth: Books. I need to read. I need to read a lot. If I had to pick some books, it would be an entire shelf of books from my house (one of far too many), but it would be the one with all of my Vonnegut, Hemingway, Greene, and...well... My Destroyers. Warren Murphy’s Destroyer series is a hell of a guilty pleasure of mine. Always has been.
Five: Star Wars. Those six movies are so good, I couldn’t live without them.
What other books do you have to write or be written in the horizon??
I’ve got two manuscripts finished right now, actually, and I’m about 15k words into a third. One is at an agency right now (fingers crossed), the other hasn’t been seen by another set of eyes on this Earth. The one I’m writing is something like... A steampunk Farewell to Arms...?
It’s a lot of fun.
If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead? Who would it be and why??
That is a tough question. But I’ll give you an answer: I’ll take either of the Roosevelts. Franklin or Teddy. Those two were larger than life and you could feel their concern for people in every speech they gave and in every word they spoke. They were brilliant, caring, and inspiring personalities.
Either that or George Lucas. Though Mark Twain would be good. Or Kurt Vonnegut...
This question has too many possibilities and is hurting my brain.
If you could time travel, what time period would you go to and why??
World War II. I have, since I was a little child, obsessed with the era of the greatest generation. For the world, the stakes had never been higher.
How do you write your books?? By the seat of your pants? Or is it plotted out in advance??
Some of both. I’ll come up with the idea, beginning, middle, and end. Then I’ll plot a few of the major points and scenes I really want to write. Then, once the beginning is crystallized, I’ll start working. I try to plot meticulously at least a major event or two ahead of where I’m writing. It keeps it spontaneous and “seat of my pants” but also maintains structure.
Here is a twist... a sentence 5 words or less, what comes to your mind first??
...Kenobi, you’re my only hope.
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