The Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host a visit from Brad Cotton, author of A Work in Progress. Without further ado, here's Mr. Cotton answering some of frequently asked questions:
The questions I get asked most often:
When it comes to reading, writing, and publishing, I don't have all the answers. In fact, I have about 3. However, I do get asked the following questions most often, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share my answers with you. Please take these responses with a
grain shaker of salt.
Questions from readers:
How much of A Work in Progress is autobiographical?
I get this one a lot, especially after someone reads the book. The answer is pretty much none of it. The book starts off with the main character recovering from certain personal traumas – one of them being getting dumped by his long-time girlfriend who then moves out of the country. That particular unfortunate event did happen to me. However everything that follows in the book is complete fiction. I never met or knew any of the characters, nor did anything in the book ever happen to me, or to anyone I know. I think we all learned our lesson from A Million Little Pieces.
Why did you become a writer?
If you asked my beloved high school English teacher about me, she would no doubt tell you, “Never heard of him”. What this means is that, contrary to a popular response, I did not know early on that writing was what I wanted to do. If class attendance and grades were any indication, most would have predicted me not on a bookshelf, but more so on parole.
I won’t give you the old cliché that you don’t choose to be a writer, but that writing chooses you, because I would have to punch myself in the face. But I will say, it's a cliché for a reason. I can't paint, I can't sing, but writing just comes naturally. I can't help but do it. If you look at my bank statement, you'd know that I didn't become a writer for the money. So it must be something else.
A neurosurgeon or a grocery bagger. Maybe both.
How long did it take you to write A Work in Progress?
Believe it or not, people ask me this all the time. It took me 8-months-ish to finish the initial draft. I took a 2-month break in the middle and was holding down a full-time job at the time. I think people ask me this to gauge how long it would take them to write one of their own. For that, however, there is no benchmark. I know people who have written a full-length novel in two weeks. I know authors who have been working on the same book for 3 years. If you’re thinking about writing a book – just go and do it. And don’t ask any more questions about it until you’re done. Go and do it right now. There is no better time.
Will you come to my party?
Yes. Yes I will.
Questions from Writers:
Did you study writing in school?
That's a tough one. The answer is no, and yes. While I didn't major in English literature, or writing composition, or anything like that, I always read and studied with a discerning eye. The same goes for television shows I watched, movies I went to, lies I told, and so on. After a while, people with a certain disposition tend to pick up on what works, what doesn't, what makes a compelling story, and what stalls one. Of course, everyone will have a differing opinion on these things, but there are some fast rules that tend to apply across the board. A great line of dialogue, a cool idea, a punchy sentence, etc., will be just that no matter where you come upon it. Authors are just people who instinctively take that stuff in, store it, and then choose to share with others how they see the world (or how they want to see the world) using what they've gathered. (It's a very similar thing for stand-up comedians, I would imagine). It's about perspective and insight and material, and I don't think that can really be taught. Delivery, however, can be taught; though it's something a writer can never finish practicing… unless you're Hemingway. But I'm not Hemingway.
I got published the old fashioned way. I finished my manuscript, then found a freelance editor and paid to have it edited myself. Once I had a polished piece, I began a querying campaign. Many, many rejections from publishers soon followed, as did self-pity, until one day a letter came in with a positive response. I am truly thankful for my publisher. Though I'm considering going indie with my next book.
What? Why are you considering going Indie?
I'm glad you asked. This answer to this could be a post all it’s own. I think to sum it up would be to do a disservice. For a thorough answer that would be close to my own, check out this post from Hugh Howey: www.hughhowey.com/my-advice-to-aspiring-authors/
Do you have any other advice for aspiring writers?
Yes - there's no such think as aspiring writers. If you write, you're a writer. Just like if you run you're a runner, and if you paint you're a painter. Some make a living doing these things, but most do not.
Read On Writing by Stephen King. Let as many people read your writing as often as you can. Don't expect to make money, but don't ever stop chasing an audience. Help out other writers as much as possible, whenever possible. Be prepared to be your own best marketer/publicist/agent/advocate. Keep writing. Keep reading.
Questions from my mother:
Did you visit your Grandmother?
I did. You left your scarf there.
What's your favorite Book? Movie? Music?
The book that influenced me the most was Catcher in the Rye. If you’re familiar with all the conspiracy theories related to the title, fear not. I’m far too apathetic to attempt assassination of a President or a Beatle. It was simply the first book I was forced to read that actually resonated, and it piqued my interest in literature. Plus, there's only two Beatles left… and they’ll get theirs soon enough.
When I was younger my favorite movie was Braveheart, but… Gibson? Really? There's a train wreck I can turn away from. These days I'm more into indie movies. They seem to have more integrity. I just watched The Words. I liked it a lot. If I had to pick a recent favorite: Barney's Version.
If you're looking for good music, look deep. If you hear it on the radio you know it will be replaced very soon. Search out music like you search out books. Follow the path of what you like and find the ones buried. A few bands in my iPod today: Elbow, Cat Empire, Stars, and P.G. Wodehouse. That's an audiobook. Wodehouse rocks.
When is your next book coming out?
Good question! My next book is called Boundless. It will be out later this year. It's about two guys, an escape, a road trip, a pretty girl, a dead body, another pretty girl, and ultimately: what happens when two people venture out to discover who they really are.
Were can I buy your book?
How do I get to the highway from here?
Always head south and hope for the best.
About Brad Cotton:
Born and raised in Toronto, Brad has been writing professionally for over a decade. An average guitarist, a sub-par painter, and a horrible juggler of anything larger than a tangerine, he is currently married to a woman, but does not have a cat, a drum set or any children.
This blog is populated by writing tips and resources (gathered from online sources and originals), reviews of everything from movies, to music, TV, pop culture, and, of course, books, and anything else we deem suitable and/or absurd enough to be posted.
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