A.J. Brown is back for round three of the interviews, which is really exciting. If you’re not following him on social media – and reading his stuff – you are surely missing out. Not only talented, but a great conversationalist, motivational and thought-provoking.
Meghan: What are your go-to horror films?
A.J. Brown: Lost Boys is one of my favorites. And World War Z. Sadly, I don’t find many horror movies scary. I wish I did.
Meghan: What makes the horror genre so special?
A.J. Brown: Scaring people is hard. I think the original intent of horror was to scare people, unsettle them, make them think about the darker things of life. Horror doesn’t shy away from taboo subject matters. It’s not politically correct. I feel horror is truer to real life than any other genre. That’s pretty special, if you ask me. Oh wait. You did.
Meghan: Have any new authors grasped your interest recently?
A.J. Brown: Pete Molnar. Holy cow. His book Broken Birds is great.
Meghan: How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?
A.J. Brown: Music is a HUGE part of creating the writing zone. Each story has a soundtrack, whether I realize it at first or not.
Meghan: What do you listen to while writing?
A.J. Brown: It really depends on my mood and the story, but most of the time, I listen to Metallica’s instrumentals. Not having lyrics in my head as I write makes it easier and I love the ebbs and flows of Metallica’s music.
Meghan: How active are you on social media?
A.J. Brown: I’m not very active on Twitter—I just don’t get it. I’m somewhat active on Instagram—I’m still trying to figure it out. I am very active on Facebook, both on my personal page and my author page. Though I think advertising on social media is often a waste of time and falls on blind eyes, I like to engage with people, let them see who I am—this is my way of getting readers comfortable with me, and hopefully, get them to purchase a few books from time to time.
Meghan: How do you think it affects the way you write?
A.J. Brown: Occasionally, I get an idea from social media, but it really doesn’t influence me much.
Meghan: What is your writing Kryptonite?
A.J. Brown: Marketing. I suck at it.
Meghan: If you were making a movie of your latest story/book, who would you cast?
A.J. Brown: My latest book is Interrogations and it continues the Hank Walker saga, so it would have to be Matthew McConaughey.
Meghan: If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?
A.J. Brown: I wouldn’t. The stories are the way they are.
Meghan: What would the main character in your latest story/book have to say about you?
A.J. Brown: He’d say I was a jerk for putting him through all of the drama and death. He probably wants to kill me, to be honest.
Meghan: Did you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
A.J. Brown: Oh yeah. I do that in a lot of my stories.
Meghan: How much of yourself do you put in your books?
A.J. Brown: There’s a little of me in every story. There has to be. I think authors are influenced by the lives they have lived, the things they have seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelled. Some stories, like Dredging Up Memories and Cory’s Way have a lot more of me in them, but every story has something from my life as an influence.
Meghan: Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
A.J. Brown: Yes. The two bullies from Cory’s Way were real bullies from my childhood. A scene from a novel I wrote appears, almost exactly like it happened when I was a kid. My novella, Closing the Wound, is the true story of a kid who was murdered in 1995—I knew the kid and it was a devastating event.
Meghan: Are your characters based off real people, or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
A.J. Brown: A little bit of both. I think every character we create is based, loosely, on other people, their characteristics, mannerisms, appearance. Someone or quite a few someones had to influence them.
Meghan: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
A.J. Brown: I used to write crap. Now, I don’t. The longer answer is I’ve learned what telling a story truly is. It’s not a matter of just putting words to paper, but putting words that make sense and carry a story forward that matters. Cheesy B movies influenced a lot of my earlier stuff, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Now, life—real life—pushes a lot of my creativity.
Meghan: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
A.J. Brown: Keeping my butt in the seat. I want to write all day, but focusing on it long enough to get more than a few hundred to a thousand words in one sitting is difficult. It’s amazing that I’ve finished as many pieces as I have.
Meghan: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A.J. Brown: Both. When I get in a particularly good flow where words are just pouring onto the paper, then I don’t want to stop and I get excited for the written word. On the other hand, if I am struggling through a piece, I know it’s not going to be all that great and it gets more and more difficult to finish the piece, and that is exhausting. It’s almost like the writing is work during those times.
Meghan: Do you read your book reviews?
A.J. Brown: Yes. I read all of them. If someone took the time to read my book and leave a review, they deserve, at the very least, me to read what they have to say.
Meghan: How do you deal with the bad ones?
A.J. Brown: I look at what they said and see if there is a way to improve on telling stories. Most of the negative reviews I have received have given reasons why the story wasn’t liked. Those are things I can focus on for other stories.
Meghan: Have you ever learned something from a negative review and incorporated it into your writing?
A.J. Brown: Most definitely.
Meghan: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
A.J. Brown: I want people to read my words. I want them to be moved by my stories. I want them to feel something when they read what I write. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want people to buy my books and to be a popular writer, but if someone reads one of my stories and then tells three of his or her friends, then they tell three of their friends, and so on, then popularity will grow and people will buy the books. That’s not a bad thing.
Meghan: What does “literary success” look like to you?
A.J. Brown: Being read by a lot of people would be nice. Success isn’t always about money—it’s about how you are viewed and if people want what you write. It’s about moving someone to tears. If you can touch someone’s heart, you are a success.
A.J. Brown is a southern-born writer who tells emotionally charged, character driven stories that often delve into the dark parts of the human psyche. Though he writes mostly darker stories, he does so without unnecessary gore, coarse language, or sex. More than 200 of his stories have been published in various online and print publications.
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Hank Walker woke up in a bed in survivor camp. He should have been dead, and a short time after that, he should have risen and joined the ranks of the shambling biters—those who had died and come back seeking the flesh of the living. Instead, he woke up alive and in a safe place.
Or is it truly safe?
Ruled by Harrison Avis, a militaristic leader, Hank realizes quickly Fort Survivor S.C. #3 might not be so safe after all, especially for those who do not find favor with Avis.
When a member of the camp is exiled to the outside world, Hank launches a plan to expose Avis as corrupt. It’s a plan with possible grave consequences for all involved. Though he knows the dangers of failing, Hank is willing to take the risk to protect what remains of his family, if not from Harrison Avis, then from himself.
On a Saturday morning in early February of 2002, the phone rang. How was I supposed to know the voice on the other end would ask a question I dreaded answering?
“What happened that night?”
That night was Halloween of 1995, when a young man was brutally murdered.
Swallowed by a rush of memories and the word, Goodbye, I took a trip to the past, where some wounds never heal. This is my story.
After his father leaves in the middle of the night, Cory Maddox and his mom, Gina, are forced to start over. Left alone while Gina tries to work her way out of debt, Cory deals with life as the new kid in school with no friends. Fleeing from the school bullies, Cory ends up under an overpass where an old homeless man lives. After being saved from the bullies, Cory and the homeless man, Mr. Washington, become friends.
But things don’t get any easier for Cory. Children are disappearing from around the state, and the bullies haven’t forgotten his escape the first time they went after him. And there is something wrong with Mr. Washington…something terribly wrong.
Accompanied by his only two friends and the unlikeliest of allies, Cory sets out to keep a promise to the ailing homeless man. Will Cory and his friends find a way to keep the promise, or will the journey prove too difficult for them?
In the best of times, loneliness is difficult. At the end of time it can be deadly. Hank Walker is alone and struggling not just with the undead but with depression that threatens to swallow him. Searching for the family he sent away at the beginning of the rise of the dead, Hank is left to deal with loneliness, desperation, and his own memories that haunt him. The dead are everywhere. The few people still alive are scattered, and the ones Hank comes across may be more dangerous than the biters. With an unlikely traveling companion, Hank’s search takes him across the state of South Carolina and to the depths of darkness like nothing he has ever experienced before. Can Hank find his family and survive the biters? Or does he completely unravel in the world of the dead?