A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brian Parker was born and raised as an Army brat. He’s currently an Active Duty Army soldier who enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, obstacle course racing, writing and watching Texas Longhorns football. He’s an unashamed Star Wars fan, but prefers to disregard the entire Episode I and II debacle.
Brian is both a traditionally- and self-published author with an ever-growing collection of works across multiple genres, including sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, horror, paranormal thriller, military fiction, self-publishing how-to and even a children’s picture book, which he wrote to help children overcome the perceived stigma of being different than others.
He is also the founder of Muddy Boots Press, an independent publishing company that focuses on quality genre fiction over mass-produced books and he’s always on the lookout for talent.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I enjoy the creative process, everything from imagining a broad idea for a book, outlining the major events, and then filling in the space between. It’s cliché to say this, but I honestly don’t write for others, I write for myself, as an outlet. The fact that people want to read what I write—and pay me for it—is a bonus.
My first book, GNASH, was kicking around in my head for years, then it took me 2 ½ more years to write. I’ve figured out my process now, so it doesn’t take me nearly as long to take a manuscript from concept to first draft.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I write in multiple genres, primarily because I like to read different stuff, so I want to see what I can do. I’m probably most well known for my post-apocalyptic and zombie fiction—they are distinct to me, not one and the same. What I like about both of those genres is that even in the face of all that disaster, mayhem, and destruction, there is hope. As a member of the US Army for the past 22 years, I’ve seen some incredibly horrible things in war zones, but I’ve also witnessed amazing acts of sacrifice and kindness. I like that most post-apocalyptic books focus on that hope for humanity.
3.Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
Interesting question because almost all of my main characters are borderline alcoholics, the exception being Detective Zach Forrest in my Easytown Novels series; he is an alcoholic.
I think that a lot of my main characters are extensions of me, to some degree. We like to have fun, to drink socially and will even enjoy a beverage alone while we reflect. When my characters go into a bar, they are looking to connect with others, to have those friendly conversations about nothing and everything. None of them go seeking a fight while they’re drinking, if they did, then they would absolutely need to go to rehab.
4.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
For this question, I’ll use Zach Forrest. He’s a hard-nosed cop who’s seen a lot of very bad things during his time on the New Orleans PD. But what’s fascinating about him is that in each of the books, he’s seeking that human connection. He wants to have a family, but would never admit that to anyone because it’s a weakness that Easytown’s criminal underworld could exploit. He even has a soft side for art and theater, while outwardly professing that it’s not for him.
5.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
When I signed my first contract with Permuted Press, I had one book of the four in the contract complete, so there were some long nights to meet the delivery timeline. Since then, I’ve self-published ten more books and a bunch of short stories. I used to get bent out of shape if I didn’t meet an arbitrary self-imposed daily wordcount, then I started seeing the big picture. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint (okay, another cliché, but this one’s true too!). I was starting to burn myself out when I was writing a book every 90 days and getting it on the street after another month or two with the editor. Now, I’m much more laissez-faire about my writing and just try to keep things moving forward.
6.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
The Number One biggest distraction in most people’s lives is television. When I stopped watching TV and started DVRing the couple of shows I couldn’t give up (which I have since given up), I gained a lot of time. An hour-long show could be boiled down to 35 minutes of actual footage when you fast-forward through the commercials. My only guilty pleasure is football season. Even fast-forwarding through commercials on the DVR, it still takes about 2.5 hours, but I’m not going to give it up, so I know that my writing output will decrease during those months. I’m okay with it, though, so it doesn’t bother me.
7.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
Time management is always a huge problem for me. As I said, I’m in the Army, so I work 9-10 hours a day, plus a 1.5 hour commute each way. Then there are family commitments, book advertising/promoting, social life, even social media interactions that take up time. Thankfully, I’m odd in that I only need about 5 hours of sleep a night, otherwise, I would never get any writing done.
8.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Use the Oxford Comma! Seriously, I used to think it was an outdated practice, but the more I write, the more I see why it is important to keep readers from becoming confused.
9.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
I’m a simple guy; I have a Dell laptop that I back up to an external hard drive every month or so. I would like to switch to a Mac, but I also bring home a lot of work and the Army is all PC-based, so it’s just easier to stick with a PC.
One thing that I don’t have, that will be an absolute requirement on my next machine is a backlit keyboard. Our youngest is almost 2 now, but I do a lot of typing one-handed while he’s going to sleep/waking up—most of that in a darkened room, so the backlit keyboard would be clutch.
10.Describe your workplace.
We move around quite a bit for my job, so in our current house outside of Washington, DC I don’t have a dedicated work area. There’s no office, or even a desk, it’s laptop on the couch when the family goes to bed. Not ideal, but it works.
11.If we wanted a good story—book, show or movie—one that you didn’t write, where would you send us?
I’ve got a ton of indie writer friends that have amazing books—and some friends that have some real stinkers too. But probably one of the best books I’ve read in the past two years was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, soon to be a movie. I was 13 when the 80’s ended and I had two older brothers, so all the 80’s references throughout the book evoked a ton of nostalgia for me. Plus, it was a good story about corporate greed and the little guy fighting against them, so…win!
12.If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
I would like to live in Charleston, South Carolina. The city is so charming and the climate is just about perfect.
13.If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
Hands down, Ernest Hemingway. He lived his life to the fullest, experiencing everything he could. He told great, thought-provoking stories and wrote with such a strong ‘voice’ that I’ve always admired him—minus the whole shotgun in the mouth thing of course.
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Brian’s work is available in print and eBook on Amazon.