Natasha: Tell me about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you are not writing, how do you like to spend your spare time?
Bryan: I like to think of writing as an accidental career, because no matter what I've wanted to do with my life, I've always been writing. I suppose it started as an extension of play; I've always had a rich imagination, and as a child I was fixated on action figures or acting out some elaborate scenario with toys, and writing just felt like one more avenue to explore those fantasies. As I grew, those fixations changed, but writing was a constant, and I was always more interested in creating my own world rather than exploring others, which is one reason why I write more than I read. The older I got, the more elaborate the fantasies became until my focus became playing with the limitations of a realistic world in which only one thing has been tweaked. And that's where the Life After series came from.
Since writing occupies so much of my time, whether it's going on in my head or at a computer, I tend to switch off when I'm not. I watch a ton of movies, play the occasional video game, and spend a lot of time with my fiancée and friends.
Natasha: We recently reviewed Life After: The Arising. What was your favorite scene to write? What was your least favorite scene? Who was your favorite/least favorite character?
Bryan: As you can imagine, it's hard to parse the text of Life After: The Arising with any sort of love/hate dichotomy. It was a passion project for so long that it was difficult to do any of it without being excited. That said, writing the characters as they fortify their potential safe haven was taxing. So much about that is fundamental logistics that it leaves little room for frivolity, short of introducing some unnecessary character drama or repeating conflicts with the undead. Obviously I have great affection for encounters with the undead, but I think my favorite scene to write had to be the hospital. It was a terrific marriage of spontaneous plot developments and laborious working-over in subsequent edits. The fear and uncertainty experienced by the protagonist as he roams the halls set the tone for the rest of the series.
At the moment, I'm preparing to release a limited edition of Life After: The Void in October, since I've been telling my most fervent supporters I'd have the new book out by the end of 2015. There will only be 100 physical copies put into print, and a Kindle version will be sparsely circulated. I have not set a wide release date yet, partially because I need a new cover, and partially because I want to get some feedback on the limited edition to see if I want to make changes!
My favorite character has to be Melody. When I introduced the survivors in the first thirty pages, I had no idea who any of them were, and even as the author, she was pissing me off. However, subsequent edits revealed a center that I hadn't acknowledged, and I realized she's by far the most dynamic character in the series. The next book is her coming out. I try to find something redeemable and something despicable in every one of my characters, but Don Mason is just a dross. His favorite movie is Forrest Gump, he cares more about joining a frat than getting an education after high school, and he likes to correct people even when he's wrong. Just insufferable.
Natasha: You also have a sequel coming out shortly. Is there anything you can tell us about it?
Bryan: Taking place two months after the events of Life After: The Arising, Life After: The Void finds Jeff Grey's motley crew having survived the first few weeks of the zombie apocalypse, settling down in the local high school while they prepare for an uncertain future. The alliance they formed out of necessity has been put to the test by their clashing personalities as they've struggle to stay sane while their world crumbles around them, but a series of events outside their control sends them into a spiral where the stakes go beyond their survival.
Natasha: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Bryan: Since I've self-published, I don't know how useful my advice could be. I can only say keep working at your query letter and use all the tools the internet leaves at your disposal. Track down the appropriate agent, stay on top of your outgoing queries, and keep writing. Volume and quality are the keys to success for self-published authors, and I put together an attractive book using Createspace for practically nothing. With a little time and a lot of patience, you can learn how to typeset and publish your own novel. And don't give up! The number of agents and publishing houses that have turned down successful first novels from best-selling authors are legion.
Natasha: What is the best way for readers to reach you?
Bryan: I'm pretty accessible in most platforms! Facebook and Goodreads are probably the best ways to get in touch with me, and I love a good informal chat with readers, whether they are fans or not!