Don’t let his photo scare you, I know for a fact that Bracken MacLeod is one of the nicest guys around. We’ve crossed paths at a few cons, the most recent being last month at WHC in New Orleans.
I messaged him to see if he was interested in doing an interview with me and he graciously accepted.
Here’s what came of my questioning.
Mandy: Let’s start off with “Who is Bracken?” as described by your friends and family. What are five words they might use to describe you?
Bracken: Way to start off with a hard question, Mandy. I suppose it’s difficult because in a lot of ways I’m a different man to different people depending on how close to the center of the Circle of Trust they come. I try to be honest with everyone about who I am, but there are people who get to see a deeper version of me than others for obvious reasons. To answer your question, however, words I’ve heard spoken about me are “sentimental,” “protective,” “obstinate,” “loyal,” and “over-educated.”
Mandy: Do you agree with them?
Bracken: I agree with everything but “over-educated.” I don’t believe in such a thing as over-education. There’s insufficient, sufficient, and exemplary. I feel sufficiently educated most of the time. You can never have too much knowledge.
Mandy: On that note… Could you educate us a little about your writing process? Do you keep to a schedule? How do you ensure you get the words out of your head and on paper/computer screen? Do you write with music or without?
Bracken: I do my best to keep to a schedule. Writing or editing, I don’t get up from my desk (except to limber up every once in a while) when that clock is running. There are a lot of times during the rest of the day that I have ideas and could easily sit down to work, but my day job doesn’t give me that kind of freedom. I carry a notebook everywhere I go so I don’t lose ideas, but it’s that structured time I’ve set aside to write, where it has to happen. The muse can’t come to me when she wants; I unchain her from the dungeon and put her to work. Sometimes, I have to whip her.
As a result of my legal education, I’m also a compulsive planner. I create throughlines, outlines, flowcharts and detailed character profiles that I refer to in order to assure that what’s in my head comes out on the page the way I want it to. None of that is written in stone, however. Every once in a while, I realize that something or someone needs to bend or break in order for the story to work. In Mountain Home, for example, Lyn needed to be the one in control of her own fate. But I realized, getting deeper into her character, that she’d gladly take a back seat if a trustworthy person appeared to take the wheel. That meant I had to shoot a couple of characters I hadn’t planned on hurting as badly in order to keep her character arc moving forward. It meant rewriting about a third of the book.
Finally, I do write to music. Usually it’s a single album or artist that I think captures the mood of what I’m doing at that time. It really drives my wife nuts when a single song ends up driving a scene and I put it on repeat for two hours. I wrote Mountain Home almost exclusively to Swallow the Sun’s album, Ghosts of Loss. The Dead Kids so far is being propelled by Ihsahn’s Eremita.
Mandy: As I mentioned above, I just finished reading and reviewing, Mountain Home, and wow, well done. Now I want to read more Bracken… Do you have anything else available at the moment?
Bracken: Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. For people who want more, I have several short stories available in free web magazines like Shotgun Honey and Every Day Fiction and others in anthologies like the Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes and Anthology: Year One. I reprinted a favorite piece of mine called “Conscience of a Camera” as a $0.99 Kindle short because I wanted to present it in a slightly different way than it originally appeared. There are links to everything I’ve published at my blog (http://luxferre.wordpress.com/).
Coming soon, I’ll have stories appearing in Ominous Realities from Grey Matter Press, Shotgun Honey Presents Both Barrels: Reloaded, and Anthology Year Two: Inner Demons Out from The Four Horsemen at Shroud Publishing. I’m incredibly proud of this trio of stories and I’m excited they’re all coming out this year.
Mandy: So now that the first novel’s out of the way, what’s next for you?
Bracken: First up, I’m working on a novella for Necon E-Books (http://www.neconebooks.com/) tentatively titled, God Bless All the Dead Kids. It’s a departure from MOUNTAIN HOME in a couple of ways. It’s a slower-paced, supernatural story about grief, second chances, and monster children. The way I like to think of it is as my riff on the atmospheric horror of Let the Right One In.
After that, I’ll be putting together a short story collection reprinting some of the pieces I mentioned in your last question along with a few fresh pieces no one’s ever read before. I’m hoping to see both of those out in 2014 at the latest.
Mandy: Awesome, Ill keep an eye out for those. What about appearances? I know you’ll be attending Anthocon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in November, do you have any other cons or readings planned for this year?
Bracken: This year I went to World Horror Con in New Orleans, ReaderCon, and Necon (I’ll NEVER miss Necon), and that kind of tapped the budget, so I’m afraid I’ll be missing a couple of things I really want to attend like KillerCon and BoucherCon. I’ll likely be at Rock and Shock in Worcester, Massachusetts this October, and as you mentioned, I am already registered for AnthoCon in November (that one is another I’ll never miss if I can help it; it’s a great time with wonderful people). I’d like to set up a couple of readings at some local indie bookstores, but I haven’t got anything squared away yet. I’ll keep that updated on my blog and on the Mountain Home page on Facebook for my tens of fans to track.
Mandy: A few more off topic questions, because I like to do things like that… At least they are still relevant this time. First question: what scares you?
Bracken: Human cruelty scares me. Vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beasties don’t really rev my engine because I know they don’t exist, but there are bad people out there who believe shooting another human being is a proportionate response to bad manners or a way of cementing their political position\religious belief\social supremacy. I’ve seen a lot of up-close violence in my life and it never gets less frightening.
Mandy: Question two, not so serious this time: What’s the one book (well, maybe two or three) you can’t live without?
Bracken: Easy! Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I think it’s a beautifully hopeful book about people trying to preserve goodness in the world. The first time I finished it, I immediately turned back to the first page and started reading it again. I’d also say a short story (since they publish it as a stand alone book, it counts, damn it!) called “Patriotism” (Yūkoku) by Yukio Mishima. I’ve never read anything else about devotion and loyalty that impacted me as much as that.
Mandy: And last one: the world’s ended, zombies roam the streets… What’s your weapon of choice?
Bracken: Another difficult question. If the plague is blood-borne, you definitely want a mid-range distance weapon to avoid splashback. Something easy to find ammo for, with stopping power, and not a lot of need for pinpoint accuracy like a shotgun. But the noise from that might attract the attention of other Zeds. If you can only be turned by dying yourself or through a bite (our comet’s tail/Hell’s-too-full scenario), then definitely an arm’s reach weapon that’s durable, easy to wield, and quiet. Swords blunt and come with risks of self injury if used carelessly. And Max Brooks is full of shit–you’re fooling yourself if you think you can just figure out how to use a Shaolin monk’s spade and you’re fucked indoors. I’m strong, so I’d go for a sturdy mountain climber’s 32 oz. wall hammer with a shotgun backup.
*Be sure to check out the above links to find more of Bracken’s writing and to add “Mountain Home” to your collection of readables. (Available in paperback and ebook format).
I’m a little late with this post, but I figured better late than never. Besides, with a memory like mine, it’s not that easy to figure out what I’ve done and when. I suppose I could just scroll through my blog to see what’s happened, but I figured I’d try to reminice on my own.
This past year has been a whirlwind of events I never thought possible. (Most of it thanks to the story, She Makes Me Smile. On that note, I’ve reread SMMS recently, and I have already noticed my growth as a writer. It’s not that I don’t like SMMS, I still really do, but there is a lot more editing I’d throw in there, if I have a chance to “redo” it one day.) Anyways, aside from me using the words “just” and “that” way less when I write, 2012 has also been a monumental year for many other reasons.
First of all, in 2012 I’ve added tons of new friends into my life. Not just friends, but a support group of peers who understand what being a writer is like. My Facebook friends list has expanded exponentially (which could be seen as a problem as well, since FB is my main way to procrastinate from writing. I talk WAY too much for my own good.)
I won’t even attempt to mention the people I’ve met, since I’ve added nearly 700 people onto my FB page, but you know who you are.
To all those I’ve met this year, or knew before, thanks for coming into my life. I appreciate your friendship for sure. *Hugs*
On top of adding to my friends list on FB, I’ve had the chance to attend my first conventions as an author. I was lucky enough to attend Horrorfind 14, KillerCon 5 and Anthocon 2. Conventions are awesome, they allow me to put a face to a name for those who I may have only known online before. I think attending conventions could possible rank up there as one of my most favourite things in the world. And not only cause I can drink my face off and I’m not the only one who is doing it. (Although it does help a lot.)
*Insert random anthem here* I pledge allegiance to the Bucket Of Vodka Gummies!
Between readings and panels, conventions have solidified my love for being in front of a crowd. Not that I really needed the reassurance, but I’m glad I had the chance to do this and look forward to many more in 2013.
I sold my first book at a con this year, actually on that note, I sold my first everything this year and that make’s me smile. (Sorry, haha, I had to put that in somewhere… :P)
The one thing I didn’t get done in 2012 was to complete a novel. I suppose I can’t have everything the first year, but it would’ve been nice. *Shrug* I suppose this gives me something to strive for in 2013. I do have a few on the go (don’t we all). I’ve been working on a zombie novel, a collection of erotiporn stories, a slew of novellas and a crapload of short stories. (I’m all over the freaking map, but I like it that way.)
One of my goals this year is to not be so procrastinatey when it comes to writing, but then again it did take me 12 days into the new year to get this blog posted…
In 2012, I was a horror writer, but this might change in 2013. I’ve noticed my some of my stories have been taking on a bizarro-esque theme, much more than horror these days. My editor calls these stories bizarro-light. Between horror and bizarro, I also write smut or erotiporn. Well that’s what I call it, if my bizarro is “bizarro-light” then my smut is “erotica-hard”. I’ve blended the sex with horror, which gave me the genre I coined “horrotica”. Yes I like to make up my own words and genres. I think for 2013 I’m just going to keep writing what my head wants to write, it seems to have worked for 2012.
In conclusion, 2012 was
good great amazing! I want to thank all the people who’ve been there for me all along like my friends and family. You’ve all put up with my insanity and I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it wasn’t for the people I have around me. It’s been a crazy ride in life, but I’m so happy to have you all as passengers. I love you guys.
Now I’m just getting sappy, so this is where I’ll end it.
Best wishes to everyone in 2013.
Hope to meet you if we haven’t crossed paths yet and to those I have met, let’s meet again.
I’ll bring the gummy worms. 😉