Hi Brandon! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Before we begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
For the past ten years I’ve been working full-time bar-tending in a busy Irish bar, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Working nights has afforded me the luxury(if you can call working nights a ‘luxury’)of being able to spend my days writing. Before the recent addition of my amazing daughter, my wife and I were able to do a substantial amount of traveling; which included the Greek Isles and Venice(not California). As soon as my little girl gets a bit older we’ll be back out there seeing the world.
So, what inspired you to start writing?
I’m not sure if there was any one thing, but I do remember when I was an early teen, and reading authors like Kurt Vonnegut for the very first time, and realizing that you could truly do whatever you wanted to do with words—I was mesmerized, and still am. Books are only limited by the imagination of the author, and the willingness of the reader to enjoy them. I got my first idea for a novel when I was about 16, and it came on rather randomly. I wasn’t looking to write or become an author; I just suddenly got an idea and decided to see where it would take me.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Right now, time. I don’t have any. Not enough, anyway.
Time seems to be a big problem for authors!
When you’re writing a new story, where do you start? Main text? Title? Start? Ending?
In most cases I like to throw the main character’s name out there right away. First word. If I have my characters, I have my dialogue, and the story writes on its own.
Do you have any regrets, or things you wish that you’d done differently?
I should have taken some writing classes when I was young, but I had a very ‘Bukowskian’ thought process back then. I believed that good writing came from the individual, and not a classroom. I still somewhat believe that to this day, but I now know that learning some basic and advanced grammar is hugely beneficial. It would have saved me a lot of time more recently.
What advice would you give to other authors?
For a new author, or someone who wants to write, but has not yet written anything, I think there is initial fear and uncertainty that prevents them from starting their project. You have to make yourself sit and write those first words to get the project going, and that can be very challenging. I’ve talked to a lot of people who get so anxious about writing that they end up putting off their project for so long that they get lost. You have to put that ink on paper, no matter what, and if you don’t like what turns out, that’s what editing is for.
Sounds like good advice!
Are there any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?
There are a lot of authors, but for the sake of argument, I’ll name a few that I’ve really liked over the years. I’ve already mentioned Kurt Vonnegut, as he has a huge place in my late teens, but I would like to also mention, John Fante, Cormac McCarthy, Charles Bukowski, Iain Banks, and Ken Follet. There are more, but I think that list covers a lot of bases.
How much research do you do in preparation for your writing?
Depends. Sometimes I have a thorough idea of the story before hand, and other times I only have a slight idea, and the story writes itself. Sometimes I go back and spend hours, days, researching something that I feel needs strengthening. I did a lot of research beforehand in The Experiment of Dreams, with concerns to aura migraines and sleep patterns. But it still seems like I’m doing research now, learning more and more, even though the book is finished. I get sent all sorts of articles from fans via twitter and Facebook.
Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what are you currently working on?
Before writing The Experiment of Dreams, I had an idea for a rather long novel. I wrote the entire rough draft, which finished at about 150,000 words. I didn’t like the way it turned out, so I wrote The Experiment of Dreams while taking a long break from it. Now, I’ve gone back to that original manuscript, and tossed it away. I have re-written the entire rough draft from scratch, and am currently doing a read through before sending it off to an editor. Without giving anything away, it’s a bit more literary than The Experiment of Dreams, set in a dystopian world. It’s still about 140,000-150,000 words—as of now. (My review of The Experiment of Dreams can be found here.)
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers, or just in general?
First of all, Thank You. It really does mean a lot when someone enjoys your work. The readers make it all the more enjoyable to continue writing. Secondly, I would like to tell my readers: I have just begun. I waited a long time to start this career, and I have more than a few ideas for future novels and stories.
To learn more about Brandon Zenner, please visit:
His goodreads author page
His Amazon author page
His book ‘The Experiment of Dreams‘ at Amazon UK
His Facebook page