03-24-2013 08:35 PM - edited 03-24-2013 09:07 PM
I'm not sure whether to call this a double or triple feature. Katia Lief AND Robert Gregory Browne AND Brett Battles are visiting with us this week but, unlike their individual visits in the past, this time
Here's a link to Brett's previous visit with us:
Here are links to Rob's previous visits:
03-24-2013 08:39 PM
Rob's website is here: http://www.robertgregorybrowne.com/
I get email. People ask questions. Here are some of the answers.
Will there be a sequel to KISS HER GOODBYE?
It’s true that Kiss Her Goodbye is just begging for a sequel. I’ve gotten a number of emails asking me to write one, and I haven’t completely ruled it out. There’s a scenario that keeps running through my head that may have to be written one day, but I’m not sure when that will happen. Who knows? Maybe soon.
Are you planning to write a series?
My first five books are standalones, but the lastest one TRIAL JUNKIES, is the first in a new series. I know I’ve said in the past that I’m reluctant to do continuing characters, but I really fell in love with the Trial Junkies gang and want to see them in action again.
Why do you have bad language in your books?
People aren’t always polite and not all of my bad guys are pretty. They have dark thoughts, they do terrible stuff. Even though I’m writing fiction, I want my books to reflect reality as much as possible. If you’re uncomfortable with strong language, suspenseful situations, sexual encounters or acts of violence, you’d best shop elsewhere. But PLEASE KNOW that I’m a strong believer that such things should NEVER BE GRATUITOUS. If they don’t fit the storyline, they don’t go into the book.
Where do you get your ideas?
FYI, this is probably the most asked question of writers, and the answer varies from writer to writer. I get ideas from watching news shows, reading books, newspapers, browsing the Internet, etc. Most of the ideas pop into my head as fragments that eventually work themselves into something whole. Once they take enough form to get me excited, then I start seriously thinking about writing a book.
Will you read my manuscript?
Truth is, I barely have time to work on my own manuscripts, let alone read anyone else’s. And my lawyer would surely tell me not to read work by people I don’t know, for fear of lawsuits. I can’t count the number of times I’ve independently come up with a premise that was eerily similar to another writer’s. This happens all the time. Those of us who have been around for awhile are used to it. But aspiring writers tend to be very protective of their ideas, so it’s best that I not read your work so that there’s no confusion about where my OWN ideas came from.
But if you won’t read my book, who will?
My advice to any aspiring novelist is to start going to writing conferences where you can a) meet a ton of writers, some of whom might read your book once they’ve gotten to know you; b) meet a ton of agents, who are often looking for new clients; c) meet a lot of aspiring writers like yourself, who may help you out once they find their own agent or publishing deal; and d) meet the editors and publishers themselves. In other words, it’s all about networking. This business, like any other, runs on relationships. And the more you hang around writers and editors and agents, the better chances you’ll have of getting your book read. I’ve seen it happen over and over again.
Do you outline your stories?
That depends on the book. Usually, once I come up with a premise and a few characters, I start writing. When you’re on pages 25, you know as much about what’s going to happen as I did when I was writing it. I figure if I can surprise myself, then you’ll be surprised, too. I’m basically reading to myself. There are times, however, that I have a short deadline and have to write fast, so I need to have a good idea of where I’m heading. All the difficult plotting has been worked out, so I can fly through the writing of the book. I don’t always stick closely to that map, but it’s nice to have in case I get lost.
03-24-2013 08:41 PM
Here's a review of Rob and Brett's co-authored release (available on Nook):
TWO GREAT WRITERS, ONE GREAT BOOK
March 21st, 2013
Brett Battles and Robert Gregory Browne are both masters. Both are prolific and versatile writers, both have an extraordinary sense of story and pacing, both create vivid, memorable characters. Both have also sold lots and lots of books — both in print and electronically, since they’re kings of the ebook universe, with each of them getting to or perilously near the Number One position in Amazon’s global Kindle marketplace. For a complete list of their books, go to http://www.robertgregorybrowne.com/and http://www.brettbattles.com/ – and take my word for it, you’ll like any book you choose.
And now they’ve risked their friendship to collaborate on a new thriller, POE, just now made available in ebook form. (Paper will follow.) They’re still speaking, as the interview below will demonstrate, and I’m certain that POE is going straight to the top of the charts. I’m always curious about how a collaboration actually works, so I asked a few questions.
But first, here’s the official description of POE
After losing her mother to a terrorist attack, Alexandra Poe was devastated when her father—disgraced and accused of treason—disappeared from the face of the earth. Now, ten years and a stint in Iraq later, Alex is approached by a man who has information about her father and wants to help her find him.
But there’s a catch. The man works for Stonewell International, a security firm that specializes in fugitive acquisition. And in return for their help, Alex must agree to run point on an extremely dicey mission. One that will take her behind the walls of a brutal and dangerous women’s prison near the coast of the Black Sea.
When Alex finally agrees, she has no idea what she’s gotten herself into. She may find her father, but she could very well lose her life.
1. How did this collaboration come about?
ROB: It came about over a number of years, actually. We had long been talking about doing something together and for a while considered doing a YA idea called LINGER that we never got going, then Brett remembered an old idea of mine and said, how about if we do something with that? And a collaboration was born.
BRETT: Even then, it took us a while to find the time to start.
ROB: True, and with my natural aversion to work, it probably wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for Brett.
BRETT: Aw, shucks….
Mr. Browne . . .
2. Where did the germ of the idea come from? How did you initially develop it?
ROB: The idea was one I had developed and abandoned several years ago, but seemed to stick in both of our minds. Brett had always liked the idea and wanted to further explore it. The idea originated when I was looking to develop a series starring a kick-ass heroine, but for whatever reason it just never came together until Brett kind of forced the issue…
BRETT: I basically waterboarded Rob into submission. He’s okay now. He just doesn’t drink any liquid that’s clear now.
ROB: Of course, if he had used coffee I would have agree much earlier. Hell, he could’ve just sent me a bag of Jamaican beans and I would have agreed. I’m easy.
3. When you decided to collaborate, how did you envision yourself working? At that time, did you anticipate that either or both of you would work more intensively on some aspects of the book than others, or did you always see yourselves being equally responsible for each of the book’s components: plot, character, setting, dialogue, structure, whatever else you can think of?
ROB: Since this is a series, we decided one of us would write the first draft of one book, then the other would write the first draft of the next book, etc. Once the first draft is done, the other takes it and does revisions, then the polish is handled by the first writer with a lot of feedback and input along the way. As for plot and character, with the first book I had some characters and a very vague plot line, and Brett came in and added more characters and figured out the logistics of the plot structure. He then wrote an outline and we took it from there.
BRETT: The most important thing was to get that outline done, which was incredibly painful for me since I don’t usually do a lot of outlining. But it was important that we were in sync before the first word of the actual story was put to paper. Also, throughout the writing of the first draft we were in constant contact, bouncing ideas off of each other to keep the story moving forward. During the rewrite, specifically the polish pass, that was even more true. There were times when it might have been better to just leave a phone line open between us. The real key to doing this, though, was something Rob said right at the start and I whole heartedly agreed with, any ego needed to be left behind. We couldn’t worry about changing the other’s words or having our own words changed. And that’s exactly what happened.
ROB: Yes, egos at the door. I didn’t want either of us worrying that the other might be offended by any changes we made in sentence structure, whatever. If this was to succeed, we needed to be as ruthless with each other as we are with ourselves.
. . . and Mr. Battles
4. At what point did you know it was going to succeed?
ROB: I think I knew when I saw Brett’s outline. He had taken that initial idea of mine and had really given it life.
BRETT: Really? That late, huh? I always thought it would work from the moment we started talking about writing a book together. But, then again, I am the more optimistic one.
ROB: Hey, cut me a break. The only collaborating I’ve ever done was long time ago, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
BRETT: Uh, yeah. And I had NEVER done any collaborating before, yet I didn’t worry. Again, optimistic one.
5. Were there surprises about the process as writing continued? Anything you didn’t expect?
ROB: What surprised me the most was discovering that our writing styles are relatively similar. I hadn’t really noticed it before. There are things we do differently and a few different words choices we might make, but it got to a point where I couldn’t remember where Brett started and I left off.
BRETT: Very true. I agree with Rob. Some ways we might string sentences together, a few words here and there, but most of the time it was like, “Did you write this? Or did I?” Which is a good thing.
6. How would you compare it to working solo?
ROB: While you don’t have as much freedom in a collaboration to go in whatever direction you choose, there’s a nice feeling that if you don’t figure out a story point or a fix, the other guy will. Our disagreements were infrequent and pretty mild, so it was pretty similar to working solo without having to do as much work.
BRETT: I’m not sure I’d even call anything a disagreement. We certainly didn’t argue over any point. And Rob is right, the cool thing was that if either of us found ourselves stuck, we’d have the other one to help us work it out. That was great. Kept things moving for sure. I enjoyed the process, and look forward to book two. I also enjoy writing solo, so mixing the two is a great way to keep writing even more interesting.
7. What does each of you think is the biggest advantage of collaborating?
ROB: Having a sounding board who is as invested in the outcome as you are. And when something’s seriously wrong, there are two brains at work on the problem.
BRETT: Definitely what Rob said. Plus, if one of you suddenly gets busy or sick or whatever, the other can pick up the slack, and the project can keep moving forward.
ROB: Seriously? You think I’m going to pick up your slack if you get sick? Keep dreaming.
8. What would each of you choose as the biggest pain in the ass?
ROB: Well, Brett did most of the grunt work on this first one, so I’m not sure I can say anything was a pain in the ass. For me, anyway. We worked together quite well.
BRETT: Rob. Wait, what was the question?
ROB: See, I decided to play it nice and not go for the obvious joke. But Brett, not so much.
9. Looking at the book, now that it’s finished, can you identify (without spoilers) ways in which it’s different than it would have been if you’d written it alone?
ROB: That’s hard for me to say. Since I don’t usually develop story and character until I’m actually writing the book, I have no idea how the story would have turned out if I had done it solo. Probably not all that different, in the end. Although one of the main characters may not have existed, since he wasn’t part of the original idea. Which is why it was nice to have a partner to dream him up.
BRETT: Wow, I can’t even remember which character that is. Both Rob and I write thrillers full of action and suspense. POE falls right into that arena, so while I’m sure we both would have made some different choices on our own, our stories probably wouldn’t have diverged far from where we ended up.
ROB: Reminder—the character Deuce, who I fell in love with immediately.
BRETT: Deuce! Right. Yeah, he’s a pretty cool character.
10. Do the two of you have another one in the planning or writing stage?
ROB: We’ve just finished this one literally in the last couple days, so the follow up isn’t yet planned. I have an idea or two for Alex, and I’m sure Brett does, too, but we haven’t yet discussed it. We’re still trying to get our head out of this first one.
BRETT: In the broader sense, yes. POE is the first of a series, so there are aspects of her life that we’ve put in motion which will continue to evolve. Just thinking about it makes me excited to get book two going!
11. Any solo projects coming up?
ROB: I have been slogging away at a new Trial Junkies thriller called NEGLIGENCE. Assuming I ever finish it (it’s one of those books that doesn’t seem to want to die), it will be out very soon.
BRETT: Absolutely. I’m working on the seventh book of my Jonathan Quinn series right now. It’s called THE ENRAGED and should be out late May.
03-24-2013 08:43 PM
Brett's website is here: http://www.brettbattles.com/
rett was born and raised in southern California. His parents, avid readers, instilled the love of books in him early on.
Though he still makes California his home, he has traveled extensively to such destinations as Ho Chi Minh City, Berlin, Singapore, London, Paris, and Bangkok, all of which play parts in his current and upcoming Jonathan Quinn thrillers.
Tell us about your influences, and how you came to be a writer?
I'm not sure exactly when the idea came to me that I wanted to be a writer, but I do remember that as early as fifth grade I would tell people that's what I was going to do. (Little did I know how much work it would take and how long it would be before I fulfilled that dream.)
But I guess the inspiration to be a writer came from my love of reading. I can thank my parents for that. They are both huge readers. I can remember that every night after my dad came home from work, he would read for an hour or so, while the chaos of our household unfolded around him.
He was a huge sci-fi fan, so, naturally, I also became one. I read as much as I could by masters of the genre like Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov, and works by lesser known, but equally talented writers, like James White.
As I grew older, my tastes expanded. I didn't completely quit reading sci-fi, but I did branch out. I think I read almost everything by Alistair MacLean, and Jack Higgins. And I also read a little book called BLACK SUNDAY by Thomas Harris several times. While science fiction stories were often thrillers, MacLean, Higgins, and Harris exposed me to a different kind of thriller—those set in our world, in our time.
Those weren't the only authors who influenced me, but they were some of the most important. Still, it would be a mistake to leave out two other authors who have been huge effect on me. The first is Stephen King.THE STAND is a book I've read over half a dozen times. And THE DARK TOWER series is simply brilliant.
The second is the late Graham Greene. There is a sadness to Greene's work that grips me and pulls me in. And he does it all with a simple, sparse style that I admire. If you haven't read Graham Greene before, you should give him a shot. Try THE QUIET AMERICAN, or THE HEART OF THE MATTER, or OUR MAN IN HAVANA.
What is your process for writing a novel? Where do you get your inspiration?
Let's tackle the inspiration question first. Simple answer: I get it anywhere and everywhere.
I could be walking down the street and see a couple arguing. I might wonder what the argument is about, but instead of eavesdropping, I'll make something up. Maybe then other questions pop into my mind. Before I know it, I might have the idea for a book.
As for my process, I'll take that idea, wherever it came from, and let it roll around in my mind for a while. Then, when I feel I'm ready, I'll sit down and start writing. Often I'll jot a few notes down first, maybe even create a bullet list of story points, but I'm not an outliner. Outlining kills the process for me. I enjoy the surprises I come across as I write.
Once I'm done with a draft, though, the most important part of writing a story begins for me. That's rewriting. I love the rewrite. It's when you make things come alive. When you cut unnecessary weight, and add in those sentences here and there that tie everything together. To me that's the magic time.
How do you create the characters in your stories?
They kind of crop up when they're needed. Sometimes they'll only give me a peek into their personality when I first think them up, while other times they'll come to me whole. What is most important to me is that no character, no matter how small, is just a cardboard cut out. The reader might not see much about the character, but I know there is more there to each of them.
Any advice for novelists just starting out?
Read: Books are your classrooms. Both the good ones and the bad. If you want to write in a particular genre, read that genre. Get a feel for the rhythm and the conventions. Not that you need to stick to the genre "rules", but knowing them will allow you to break time with confidence. Then don't be afraid to read outside the genre. Inspiration will come from everywhere.
Observe: Writers by nature are observers. Or, at least, I think the good ones are. We are interpreting the world to those who read our work. Sure, perhaps the world we are writing about is a made up one, but it is based on the world we live in everyday. Observe life. People watch. Eavesdrop on conversations in coffee shops. Don't judge anything, just soak it in.
Experience: I don't mean experience everything your characters will experience. I mean experience life. Travel. Go to a firing range. Hike up a mountain. Even jump out of a plane, if that's something that interests you. Experience life. Then use those experiences to infuse your writing with real emotions and knowledge.
Finally, and most important, WRITE: Writers write. Simple as that. Write a little everyday if that's all you can manage. It may be crap, but so what? Athletes practice all the time, improving with each drill. It's the same thing with writing. You can't get better unless you write.
03-24-2013 08:46 PM
03-24-2013 08:48 PM
Here are Brett's books:
03-24-2013 08:49 PM
This is the first book in a new series co-authored by Brett and Rob:
But there's a catch. The man works for Stonewell International, a security firm that specializes in fugitive acquisition. And in return for their help, Alex must agree to run point on an extremely dicey mission. One that will take her behind the walls of a brutal and dangerous women's prison near the coast of the Black Sea.
When Alex finally agrees, she has no idea what she's gotten herself into. She may find her father, but she could very well lose her life.
03-24-2013 08:54 PM
03-25-2013 07:37 AM
Welcome Brett and Robert:
Your POE thriller looks very interesting. I have read Brett's The Cleaner and Robert's Kiss Her Goodbye and have more of both your books in my TBR pile.
Looking forward to getting a copy of POE thriller!
Hope you enjoy your visit with us!
03-25-2013 10:25 AM
Just an FYI, Rob's having some technical issues signing in so if there's a delay in him answering a question, that will probably be the reason.
03-25-2013 10:59 AM - edited 03-25-2013 11:00 AM
Well, hopefully this will let me in. I've been having a few difficulties this time around. Not sure why.
Anyway, hello to everyone and thank you Becke for inviting us.
Author of THE PARADISE PROPHECY (Dutton, July 2011)
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
03-25-2013 11:16 AM
03-25-2013 11:19 AM
I've got POE on my Nook, but I'd like to get a copy for my dad, who isn't into ereaders. Will it also be coming out in paperback?
How many books are you envisioning in this series, or are you planning to let it go on indefinitely?
03-25-2013 11:21 AM
03-25-2013 11:26 AM
Becke, we're putting the print version together now. Figure it should be available in a week or two.
As for length of the series, we haven't put a limit on it yet. Want to see how it goes and do what feels right.
03-25-2013 11:28 AM
Welcome to you both to the forum. Poe sounds very interesting and though I've never read any of your books, I would be interested in that one. What a fun collaboration!
03-25-2013 11:29 AM
Since you two were friends already, were you worried this co-authoring venture might put your friendship at risk? What made you consider working together this time?
For me, there might have been a small bit of worry that it would affect our friendship, but it wasn't something I thought about a lot. I was pretty sure it would all work out fine. Working together seemed like an obvious thing. We have similar styles and have been the soundboards for each other for out individual novels for years, so we have a pretty good handle on how each other thinks. It's something we've been talking about doing for years.