I wanted to write a blog post that both talked about my endeavor to write two stories at a time as well as gave you a sneak peak at those stories, but the original post felt rambly and scattered. So, I decided to try something new – lay out it like an interview! Enjoy!
So, you mentioned the other day that you were planning to take on a second Work-In-Progress on top of your current one as well as continuing work on the edits for Every Bright and Broken Thing. Tell us a little bit about these two upcoming stories.
I’ve been working on my current WIP for about a-month-and-a-half now. If you follow me on Instagram (@brianmcbrideauthor) you’ve probably heard me talk about it. The title is Sons of Slaughter, or SOS for short. Sons follows two lifelong best friends, Beck and Dean, in a small town in the Pacific Northwest as they struggle with the tension between wanting to move forward with their lives while feeling trapped by the things that have happened in their pasts. Meanwhile, each of their lives begin to implode as Beck battles with his drunk, abusive stepfather and Dean wrestles with his failed suicide attempt and his girlfriend’s unexpected pregnancy.
What genre is Sons of Slaughter? What kind of readers would like this kind of story?
Sons is another YA Contemporary (because obv that’s my aesthetic), but it’s a lot darker and a lot grittier than previous works of mine. Beck suffers from psychosis-related mental illnesses that cause him to have auditory and visual hallucinations that get worse and worse throughout the story. Dean’s former gang aren’t happy that he’s leaving them in favor of his family, so there’s quite the rivalry there as well.
With lots of war and wolf metaphors, sharper prose, and a grittier plot Sons could be perfect for fans of books like The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, or Looking For Alaska by John Green. It’s an emotional and thrilling story about the battlefields that exist both within us and around us.
Tell us about the new story!
The new story is called Pack Animals and it’s about a group of outcasts who suffer the loss of one of their own at the hands of a school shooter the day before they were supposed to graduate together. As the crime rates increase in their rural New Mexico town, our 5 heroes decide to take justice into their own hands. Donning wooden animal masks and their various talents, they wage a secret war against crime that makes them enemies of both the law and criminals. They’re more than just a ragtag group of teenage vigilantes – they’re animals. And they’re out for blood.
So, is Pack Animals a sci-fi story?
Not at all! It’s a YA Contemporary, though it could probably also fit in the YA Thriller genre. Which is perfect, because that’s the genre that’s trending right now! Pack Animals is a story that manages to combine John Green’s heart with Pierce Brown’s thrills.
Fascinating! Where did you come up with the idea?
The original seedling popped into my head while watching an episode of NCIS in which a bunch of geeks dressed up in superhero costumes and helped protect citizens from small-time crimes. The idea grew as I binged season 2 of Riverdale. The entire aesthetic of Pack Animals is pretty much thanks to that show. Haha. All my character models are Southside Serpents!
Why did you decide to try writing two stories at once?
Basically, I came to the decision because Pack Animals wouldn’t leave me alone. I realized that I was putting limitations on myself that I didn’t need to by forcing myself to focus only on one story even if that’s not the story I wanted to write. I also realized that I need to write the stories that my heart are fully in, otherwise the writing will be sub-par. By writing two stories at once, I can stretch myself and my abilities while creating more content to release into the never-ending stream of fiction on a more regular basis. I can also give myself a break from one story by having a second one to focus on. Hopefully this will help prevent burnout and cultivate motivation!
How do you plan to tackle such an undertaking?
TBH I have no idea. It’s daunting. I’ve already been feeling a little burned out lately. I’ve had to let go of a lot of expectations and learn to release myself from unnecessary stress while at the same time staying disciplined because writing is more than a hobby for me. It’s my dream to make writing my career and my primary source of income. It’s happened for authors all over the world; why not me?
What are some of the expectations you’ve had to let go of?
With Sons of Slaughter, I was stressing myself out with “I want this story to be a solid 90,000 words when it’s done.” But I’m still only on the first draft and I was allowing that stress to cause me to neglect just getting the bare bones out on the page without any expectations. I had to remind myself to release all expectations on the first draft. If it’s straight trash, that’s fine. As long as the story and all it’s messes are laid out in front of me, then I at least have something to start refining.
How close are you to the end of Sons?
Currently, the story is 37,000 words and I’m probably on the last third of it. There’s a lot I’ll have to go back and incorporate into the middle of the story and definitely a lot of refining and editing to be done, but the first draft is nearing the finish line and that’s always a huge sense of accomplishment!
When do you think you’ll publish it?
I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself, but I’m hoping to release Sons within the first half of 2020!
And Pack Animals?
I’ve only written a page in Pack Animals so far, so it’s hard to say for certain. But depending on how early in the year, Sons is released, I could see a late 2020 release for Animals. Maybe just in time for the holiday season! That’s prime book-buying time!
Can you give us a status report on Every Bright and Broken Thing?
I honestly probably haven’t talked about Every Bright enough in recent weeks. Mostly, that’s because I’m waiting on my cover designer – the fabulous Mirriam Neal – to send me the final cover and have been working on SOS and PA in the meantime. I still have to finish my final read-through and line edits, but the story itself is all laid out and refined! No more content edits! Halleluah! The release date has not been finalized (that will depend on when the cover is finished) but we can expect a mid-summer release!
What can we expect from your upcoming releases, Every Bright and Broken thing, Sons of Slaughter, and Pack Animals?
Each of these stories is undeniably different from each other in a lot of ways, but the one thing that they hold in common is that they’re raw, emotional, and character-driven. My goal as an author is to write stories that explore the unexplored, that dare to venture out into wilder ground (this is where the name of my publishing imprint came from!), and that aren’t afraid to get down in the dirt of what it means to be human, to have faith, to hurt and to heal.
Every Bright explores the idea of home, grief, trauma, addiction, and family. Liam and Ezra are two brothers who, after the death of their mother, drift not only from each other but also from their sense of “home.” This story follows them as their lives are unraveled from that place of grief and trauma and they each are faced with a choice to come back “home” or to continue to drift in the hurt. This story will be an emotional rollercoaster, so be sure to keep a box of tissues handy.
Sons is a story written for anyone who has ever felt like their lives were a constant battle; whether it’s with themselves, or with the world around them. Best friends Beck and Dean’s worlds are ripped apart by their own tragedies as they long for a world outside of their small town where maybe life won’t feel so small and they won’t feel so trapped.
Animals is a story for anyone who has ever felt helpless and powerless when bad things happen. It explores themes of grief, found family, heroism, and morality. This story follows a group of outcasts – Billy, Chuck, Abby, Ruth, and Jack – as they begin to take control of their own lives and take charge over the world around them. But they also wrestle with their own areas of darkness, struggling to figure out how to be the kind of heroes they themselves never had.
In your debut YA Contemporary novel, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, faith was a pretty big theme. Being a Social Work major and a pastor-in-training, we know that you have a passion both for families and for the faith community. How will that be reflected in your upcoming novels?
In Love and the Sea and Every Bright, the faith element is pretty straightforward. Love and the Sea saw Adam as he wrestled with his own doubts and came to a place where he wanted to take responsibility for his own faith and relationship with Jesus. Whereas Every Bright follows Liam and Ezra as they’re in a place of not necessarily an absence of faith, but a struggle to find out how faith can fit in with pain and loss. We see them both wrestle with anger toward God that they’ve harbored as well as feelings of unworthiness.
In Sons and Animals, however, the faith elements are more nuanced. Dean’s parents in Sons are church-going Christians who model for us what a good, Godly family looks like. In a world where mainstream fiction doesn’t ever present the casual lives of Christians (unless it’s to portray them as bigoted monsters), I felt it was important to write about a strong, wholesome family who loved the Lord and loved people. Sons also exhibits some of the nastiness that can, admittedly, be found in the church as Dean’s girlfriend’s parents (who go to the same church) kick her out for choosing not to have an abortion. It’s important to be honest about the condition of the church while also modeling what the church can be, should be, and in many places is already. Animals, too, provides a more nuanced perspective of faith as well as morality. Christians battle anger, grief, and a will to fight back just as much as anyone else. We see Billy, the son of a minister, wrestle with what he perceives to be his father’s hypocrisy. We also see some of our other heroes and their parents as normal people who love the Lord and desire to do what is right.
Not every book I write is going to be a sermon. I understand that as someone with readers both in the Christian marketplace and the secular, I have an important part to play in representing the Lord, the Church, and our faith honestly before others.
Do you have any other books in motion?
Always! I have a YA Contemporary Romance that has been simmering for a couple of years now – a story about an orphan who aged out of the foster system and a dying girl who travel the world. I have a full-blown Literary novel I want to write. I’d love to make a return to the Fantasy genre some day and have dreamt of resurrecting The Starcrafters’ Saga as a MG Fantasy. I also have a couple YA Thrillers that are only just starting to blossom, an Americana YA Contemporary, and of course a handful of YA Contemporaries (bc, again, that’s my aesthetic).
What advice do you have for Indie Authors who want to make writing their career?
The biggest piece of advice I could give you is something that I constantly have to tell myself – treat writing like a job. Do the work. Put in the hours. Set realistic goals. Take vacations. Always strive to learn more about the craft. And keep your momentum going – you have to make sure that you are constantly introducing new material into the never-ending stream of fiction in order to keep up with the market. So, write down every little seedling of a story idea you’ve ever had and let them simmer on the back-burner while you focus on other projects. That way, when you finish those projects, you have a fresh well to pull from.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below!