Friday, June 3, 2011

Up Close & Personal with Author - John Brinling

Where do you call home? Vermont, USA.

What is your book about? “Shared Emptiness.” A family in crisis. Here’s the blurb:

A portrait of the harrowing despair and remarkable courage of a middle-class family tormented beyond endurance by a mindless act of violence.

Chris Carter, at 24, a medical student, had it all. Good looks, intelligence, a winning personality, a loving family. His girlfriend, Louise, was his dream girl, and he had everything ahead of him, everything to live for….

Until he was mugged after walking Louise home from his sister’s birthday party—and his world and the world of all those who knew him was changed forever.

His brain damage was significant, and it was touch-and-go whether he would ever again be the person he was, ever again be able to leave the hospital bed and walk outside in the summer sun.

His family and friends—simple, good folk— struggled to come to grips with their changed reality, and were forced into decisions that no one should ever have to make.

Chris’ mother, Frannie, struggled to hold the family together, while consumed with grief.

Vince, Chris’ father, dodged reality and continued his unrealistic existence until reality could not be denied.

Jeannie, Chris’ younger sister, who always considered herself a second class citizen, didn’t know how to seize the advantage Chris’ hospitalization offered.

Martha, Frannie’s sister, was the steel in the family’s spine until her own faith was severely tested by a tragedy in her own immediate family.

Father Norman, Chris’ friend and parish priest, was forced to choose between his church and his friend. His battle about what was right and wrong pitted him against Father Whittier, his pastor, and his God.

Dr. Meredith, the neurosurgeon who operated on Chris, not only faced incredible medical problems, but also the treachery of his subordinates, particularly Dr. Prendergast, a research-oriented psychologist.

Dr. Prendergast saw Chris as a unique test subject and, despite warnings by Dr. Meredith to the contrary, tried to get Chris to participate in his sensory deprivation experiments.

Carol, Chris’ nurse, who found a way to communicate with Chris beyond the superficial and the mundane, changed the course of events.

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say? Let me turn the clock back to a time before the mugging that “killed” Chris.

Do you have plans for a new book? Yes. Title: “Nation At Risk.” A sci-fi thriller/a political takeover of government/a love story/ an alien contact/a religious upheaval involving The Rapture(i.e., the end time)/etc., etc., etc.

What inspired you to write your book? “Shared Emptiness” – A strong feeling about the government’s and the Church’s involvement in issues that they know little about, and how the average Joe and his family are affected. “Nation At Risk” - A runaway imagination, and a desire to provide the reader with everything he/she could possibly desire between the two covers of a book.

Would you like to be contacted by readers to do book reviews? Yes.

How did you come up with the title and cover design? I originally had the title “Alone.” But someone else used it and since that book is a best seller it didn’t seem wise to use it for my book. The new title – “Shared Emptiness” – pretty much sums up the frustration this family feels about life, particularly after the mugging incident.

Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life? Many of the characters were drawn from family members and friends, though the incidents and actions are purely fictional.

What books have most influenced your writing most and why? “To Kill A Mockingbird” – just a good story with likeable characters. “Harry Potter” – the author’s fantastic imagination, very likeable characters, and good versus evil.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet? Agatha Christie, though I’m a bit late. Steven King, Dean Koontz, JK Rawlings, John Grisham.

Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers? I mostly read paperbacks, though I can see transitioning to ebooks. My wife is already there. Hardcovers are too heavy to carry around.

Have you ever read a book more than once? No fiction book, though I have read nonfictions books multiple times.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version? I liked the Bourne movies better than the books.

Patti: I loved those movies but then I never read the books.

What book are you currently reading? “The Passage” – that’s a joke!

What book do you know that you will never read? The Bible.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and why? Some of the newly successful ebook authors. Why? I want to join their ranks.

Is there anything you would change in your last book and why? My wife and I discuss my plotting quite a bit, and she came up with an alternate ending that I am thinking about. Because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for all you readers out there, I won’t say anymore.

Who designed the cover of your book? My wife. She designs all my covers. We talk about it quite a bit, but it is her fertile imagination that finally creates what you see.

Do you have a book trailer? No.

Do you have any advice for other writers? I am a very bad one to give advice, since I seem to violate most of the common sense rules. One example: No two of my books are alike. God forbid that I write a series which would have an instant readership.

Where can your readers follow you? I don’t have a blog, or a website, or a facebook fan club, or a twitter account. I don’t really social network. Not because I’m a snob, but because I’m still trying to get there. I participate in some forums, but the easiest way to find me is to do a search on my name – John Brinling – on the various ebook outlets, like Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, etc. I’m there, just hiding until discovered.

My Goodreads author page:

Here’s where to look for the ebook:

Australia: All of the above.

Finished! Thank God!

Patti: Very Funny!

Check out all 11 of John Brinling's eBooks on Amazon

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John Brinling

I have been writing all of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. "Black Dawn." It dealt with segregation and the KKK. Whatever happened to it I don't know.

Since then, earning a living has preempted long periods of my life when I wrote very little. My wife and I are both in data processing (IT nowadays) and we usually work long hours when we are on a contract, which meant I spent little time writing fiction when gainfully employed. The birth of my daughter offered me another excuse for not writing, but that's what it was: an excuse. Writing is hard. But it's in my DNA and I keep returning to it, despite some part of me that prefers the lazy life. However, not writing is unthinkable, and I am constantly exploring ideas even when I'm not committing them to paper.

I lived and worked in Europe for seven years. I met my wife In Italy where we both worked for the same company, and were married in 1975. The contract we were working on ended that year and we took two years off to live in England, in a 300 year old farmhouse in Wiltshire. It was in that farmhouse that I wrote "The Ghost Of A Flea," as well as another book titled "Quarantine," which is a science fiction thriller.
"The Ghost" has a strong autobiographical component. I was a programmer/analyst. The office ambience in the novel is similar to life in my New York office, although the intrigues were of an entirely different nature. I had a good friend who lived in Sparta. I lived for a time near the George Washington Bridge. The building manager was an Irishman, who became a good friend, and an integral character in the book.

"Quarantine" is set in East Africa, where my wife and I vacationed, and I drew liberally on what we read, saw, and experienced.

I had an agent back then who marketed both books, and came very close to selling them to both Doubleday and St. Martins. Unfortunately he died before completing the sale and I put the books on a shelf and forgot about them for 35 years. Only this year did I resurrect them and publish them on Amazon's Kindle and Smashwords.

In 1977, my wife and I returned to the states and founded our IT consulting firm, Brinling Associates. For the next fifteen years we worked hard building our business. I wrote one novel during that time, a book titled "Alone," which dealt with a man in an irreversible coma who is aware of what is happening around him, but is unable to communicate with the real world. Unfortunately, most of that book is lost.

In 1990, during a down period in our business activities, I wrote several other novels which I am attempting to bring out of retirement. These novels were also put on the shelf when circumstances re-ignited our business opportunities. One book - "The Watcher," a horror thriller - is already self-published. The other is a much larger work, a rural mystery series, that I'm still working on.

As you can see, writing books is one thing, marketing quite another. I am perhaps the world's worst marketer, which helps explain why my writings have spent most of their lives on a shelf in my home in Vermont staring out at me asking "Why?"

For the past few years I have been writing screenplays, which are more bite-sized writing efforts. I have done fairly well in some contests, but am still waiting to be discovered. The small royalty check I earned from Amazon this quarter is the only money I've ever earned from my fiction writing.

My writing is pure escapism. When I sit down to write, I embark on an adventure. I let things happen and I let the characters be who they are. Since I strongly avoid outlines, I am as surprised by events as I hope the reader is. Pulling together loose ends is a subject for revision, which I do endlessly. This undoubtedly makes for more work and takes me longer to "finish" something, but it seems to be the best, the only, way for me. It is the candy bar just out of reach that keeps me at the keyboard.

My background illustrates my chaotic approach to life. I have been at different stages a pharmacist, a pharmacologist, a tech writer, a programmer/analyst, a business consultant, a business owner, a teacher, a novelist and a screenwriter. At one time I thought it perfectly acceptable, if not desirable, to change jobs/professions every year or so. I didn't worry about the future, assuming I would always find a way to muddle through.
I'm still muddling through.

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