Interview with the Author (practice run!)

The people who tell me things say I should start making myself heard in interviews. I scrolled around looking for random author interviews and then answered the questions myself for practice. Hopefully not too big a wall of text
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Interview with Author B H Branham

    Can you talk a little about what the series is about?

On the surface, the series is about the comedy and drama of a group of
misfits who form a rock band. The struggling band “The Lost Girls” are about
at the end of their financial ropes when, entirely by chance, one of the players
literally trips across a somewhat older rock star who has put in himself in
exile for a decade after the implosion of his first band.
That’s the hook. There is a small onslaught of deeper themes about
friendship, loyalty, the portrayal of characters coping with psychological
demons, and the humor it takes to make it through the day sometimes.

    Where did you get the idea for the series?

I’ve had the characters in my head for decades. I used them in roleplaying
games (both tabletop and online) and in short stories that I never published. I
didn’t have a proper setting for them until I finished watching a Japanese
anime series about a high school rock band and reading the manga it was
based on. It annoyed me. It annoyed me that the author didn’t take the band
through college or into a professional career. It was like he was afraid of the
character evolution. Suddenly I had the setting for my characters – a post-
graduate neophyte rock band that trips across a little luck in the form of a
rocker with a past, money, and connections who was tired of sitting in the
dark.

    What message do you want readers to get from reading the books?

If there’s any message, it is that I think very strongly that you choose your
friends carefully and then you accept them – flaws, baggage, and all. That
social rules are lines in the sand? That humor is what it takes to be human,
even if everything is exploding or sucks. One of my characters has to fight
moment by moment against psychological shackles that are monstrous but
she makes it because she has friends and because of compassionate humor.

    How long did it take to write the books?

I actually started writing the rough drafts for the first volume in the fall of
2012 and posting them on a little anime forum for grins. The feedback kind
of astonished me. A small pack of readers got very passionate about the
characters. In the spring of 2013, I decided to actually turn it into a series. I
have three volumes of rough draft, the first two are now complete and
published. There are two more books outlined.

    Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?

I don’t like picking favorites because they’re all voices in my head 😉 .
But I have to say Glycerin is the most challenging. She’s a pathologically shy,
terrified lead guitarist with massive psychological instabilities. She depends
greatly on her small elfin friend Tsika, a Russian goth bass player. They have
been tight friends since they met in boarding school, the “warrior-princess”
and her Big Mouse.
Kpau is the zaniest to write for. She’s a “leaf on the wind” crazy drummer who
is a walking chatterbox of pop culture trivia, a goofy prankster, and someone
who is probably the best combat buddy ever.

    Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take
    you in any unexpected directions?

I have a grand outline. I have personality threads – how each character is
going to evolve over the story. The story has somewhat of a serial basis so a
lot of day-to-day stuff can be just brainstormed (“what goofy thing shall
happen today?”) but there’s an overall flow to the story of a band’s rise and
fall and rise and fall and …
The story often takes off in odd directions. I joke that my characters call
regular meetings to yell at me because the character evolution demands a
different direction. I have altered the grand outline at least twice now because
of that. But that’s what outlines are for. They aren’t requirements, just a way
to keep track, a self-made map.

    If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?

At the moment, I suspect down the road, I might take the second volume and
split it into two volumes – expanding each half a little. It’s a big book, almost
50% bigger than the first book. I’d like to think people used to epic fantasy
like LOTR, Game of Thrones, or the Wheel of Time would shrug and plow into
it. And really, “It Really IS Rocket Science” is an epic fantasy. It is just
grounded in the modern music business and doesn’t have explicitly magic
spells unless you count Glycerin’s screaming guitar play or her charisma
magic.

    How did you come up with the cover?

Initially, I was going to have an anime-style cover or a cover done in the style
of those ’60s “realism” book covers. I’ve posted a few examples of such on
Facebook. But the artists I reached out to were either too busy with their own
universe or they were already stretched in commissions. Then there was the
huge pile of “Yeah, this sounds great!” followed by crickets, tumbleweeds,
and unanswered queries.
I did a review of what was on the shelves and decided that live models were
coming back in vogue and went looking. I follow the goth/alternative fashion
scene anyway so I had links. I was already familiar with Elisanth (the model on
the first volume) and knew she had a mess of work that evoked “Glycerin” to
me. To keep costs low, I purchased one of her library stock prints from her
and worked up a cover around that. For the third volume, she and I are
planning a custom shoot and possibly a new cover for the first book that is
*exactly* Glycerin as I envision her. The model on the second volume goes by
the professional name of Mamiko. Connecting with the lovely model from Poland
was fortuitous luck. She was essentially brand new on the alt model scene and
I stumbled across a picture of her in a goth fashion page. After I finished
shrieking I had found “Tsika”, I wrote her and amazingly, she jumped back
with a response. I’ll readily say I adore the little doll model though I’m
glad she’s not a sad little closet psychopath like the character Tsika is.
We chat almost daily and I try to support her career as it blossoms. Her being
in Poland and me on the US West Coast makes conversation a bit disjointed.

    When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve liked writing since I was a teenager. I sublimated a lot of the drive during
my 20s/30s by dungeon mastering campaigns in D&D type games or writing
up extensive backstories for characters in online virtual world games (MMOs).
My tech career has been fading the last five years and I don’t really feel like
spending bucketloads of cash recertifying or getting a new degree less than
10 years from retirement age. Late-fifties white male seeks full time
employment after consulting gigs fade out – good luck with that 😉

    What was the first story that you ever wrote?

The first story I ever thought of as a story (and not just something to get
through a homework assignment) was a short sci-fi story with a mix of
technology and supernatural. I wrote this back in the early ’70s. Team opens
portal into a new parallel universe and, of course, it’s the one they really
shouldn’t have opened. Cue Revelations riffs.

    What are you favorite books and authors?

I have a large raft of them. Heinlein stands out somewhat. He wrote about
*people* who happened to be in bizarre situations (space travel, immortality,
odd cultures, etc). That informs a lot of my writing – that at the end of the
day it is the people you get attached to. Tolkien taught me about ‘world
immersion’. Even in the setting of a rock band in modern world – the reader
needs to believe they’re peeking into a real place. Characters should cook,
make fun of each other, scratch their butts, talk business. One should be able
to smell the night club, have the rain outside affect the air. I’ve been told I
over-control the reader’s imagination by my closest critic but I plead guilty I
guess.

    What are you working on next?

I’m finishing up the e-book versions of Volume Two, then it’s onto Volume
Three, “Go Go Godzilla”. The band snags a tour to Japan via the back alley
clubs and small venues on their way to being an opening act for the Fuji Rock
Festival held every summer in Japan. There’s a lot of important plot threads
that are wound up in this volume. The trilogy basically covers the first year of
the band. Books Four and Five will jump ahead as necessary to cover
important moments in the band’s career … or I may entirely rewrite those
ideas depending on my mood at the time and how well the books are being
received at that point. I am committed to five books even if I don’t sell a
single one. I don’t believe in starting a series without finishing it. At the end
of the day, I’m writing this for Blar, Tsika, Kpau, Glycerin, and the others. I
want them to have a place to live even after my brain fizzles out.
I do have another story in early planning involving two intrepid thieves in a fantasy
setting. Still bubbling that one out.

    What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t take breaks. Seriously, the worst moments of writing for me are after several
days away from it. Staring at that unfinished paragraph. Waking up the voices
in your head. Also — you really SHOULD have an editor. Not a buddy who
reads it — someone who bleeds red ink on it, calls you an idiot for screwing
up grammar, wonders how the door moved from the left side of the room to
the right side.
Ah, that’s another tip. If you have a “regular setting” (like the character’s
home), DRAW A FLOORPLAN! WITH CONTENTS. It will save you so much grief.

    How do you juggle writing with family time?

Very poorly. Problem is I have come to loathe television. I spend a lot of time
yelling at continuity errors, one inch deep plots, jerking characters around
like puppets or having them spout the “soundbite position of the moment”
(especially on crappy cop shows that want to have a “message”).
Unfortunately, my wife loves television – so this results in some ongoing
tension as I put on my studio headphones and crank the rock music up so I
don’t hear the tv … and then she wants to chat or have me look at something.
Mostly I try not to work when she’s around but sometimes the ideas grab me
by the cerebral cortex and if I don’t write them down I’ll lose them.

Thanks for listening 😉

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