On Fridays right here, writers talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we celebrate THE BEHRG's double win on Kindle Scout with HOUSEBROKEN and THE CREATION, both published through Kindle Press.
"It was a kidnapping, but in all the wrong ways. No ransom, no demands; there was nothing they wanted--other than to observe."
Blake Crochet and his family are taken hostage in their own home and forced to act out their everyday lives under the observance of two psychotic kidnappers. They soon learn that the consequences of both action and inaction are more terrifying than they imagined. As the motives behind the kidnapping are revealed, Blake must sacrifice everything to hold on to the ever-shifting definition of what his family has become. In his battle for survival, he will face the ultimate consequence: for to fight a devil, you may have to become one yourself.
Deep in the jungles of the Amazon Rainforest, a dying phytopharmacologist has begun a search that could change the fate of humanity forever. Joining depraved scientists and ruthless mercenaries, he seeks to overcome humanity's one common enemy: Mortality. Meanwhile, plans have been laid by an eco-revolutionary group, led by rebel Faye Moanna, to put an end to the illegal deforestation taking place in the Amazon. But her true motives may compromise much more than their sociopolitical agenda. Because a frightening power is stirring in the Amazon, an event beginning that only occurred once in the history of the Earth--during its process of Creation. And it will take more than tenacity and ingenuity to survive the coming seven days. The Creation is about to begin anew on planet Earth, and what these two groups are about to discover is that in order to Create, one must first Destroy.
- Your second novel, THE CREATION, did well on Kindle Scout, hot on the heels of HOUSEBROKEN, one of the earliest novels to win a contract through Kindle Scout. How daunting was running two campaigns and can you share some of the high/low points?
HOUSEBROKEN was introduced in the very first round of Kindle Scout. I knew at the time that this was quite a groundbreaking launchpad, but really didn't know what to expect. I had actually finished the umpteenth draft of HOUSEBROKEN earlier that year, in February of 2014, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. Kindle Scout seemed like one of those doors opening at the right time and right place, and I've been pleased with the results. For THE CREATION I actually decided to self-publish the novel. I wanted to have that experience, have a little more control over pricing and promotions, as well as really be able to compare the two. I'm a pretty big believer in that there's no magic key to success, it takes trying a lot of everything and moving forward, often an inch at a time. I've learned so much from both of my publishing experiences to date, and would look to both options for future novels.
- HOUSEBROKEN tells the story of a home invasion in contemporary America, focusing on one family's trauma and fragmentation, while THE CREATION is set in the Venezuelan Rainforest and has a broader, more sweeping narrative with wider implications. As a writer, what elements do your novels have in common? (I'm thinking genre or perhaps the dark threads that run through both?)
I had spent over ten years writing screenplays before I dove into HOUSEBROKEN, and with my first attempt at writing a novel I thought it'd be easier to have a contained idea rather than some sweeping epic. Boy was I wrong!! I actually have a document with over 100,000 words that were cut from my first attempt at novel writing. Ideas that ran into walls or that felt either too cliche or forced, entire subplots, etc, etc. But through the process, I learned so much. As far as common themes within these novels, there are a few. My writing style tends to be a little dark as I have a fascination with characters who are extremely flawed. As I was putting the final touches on THE CREATION, I realized that I didn't have a single character in the novel that I would probably be friends with. They're all passionate, dynamic forces; people that are so interesting ... but they're also seriously messed up. To me, fiction and art are a way to reveal inner truths to the reader / viewer about themselves, sometimes through watching the actions of another. Take, for instance, BREAKING BAD--very few people would ever stoop to the actions of Walter White, yet we loved going on that journey with him, watching him sacrifice his soul a piece at a time. And in those quiet moments we find ourselves in, we can reflect on what choices we may be making that could lead us down paths we're better off not exploring. Those are the types of characters that interest me. I have a tough time writing with "the hero" or "the love interest" or "the bad guy" archetypes in mind. And when you let your characters fully reveal how screwed up they are, they literally write themselves, making choices that constantly surprise you but are organic to who they are.
- THE CREATION's setting is especially significant to you. Can you tell us why you’re drawn to that part of the world?
Absolutely, and I'm so thrilled to hear that your novel, GRAVE OF HUMMINGBIRDS, is set in a similar locale!! My newest novel, THE CREATION, is based on the concept of a 'god-like' being starting the 7 day process of THE CREATION over again. But, of course, in order to create, one must first destroy. I set the novel in the Amazon Rainforest, in Southern Venezuela, where a new 'Garden of Eden' is being introduced as the world is remade. I'm fortunate that in my life I had the opportunity to live in Venezuela for two years, while serving a mission for my church. I learned, lived, and grew to love the culture and people of that country, and it's exciting to be able to share some of that within my writing, to "revisit" a part of my past that played such a big part in creating who I am today. The Amazon, itself, is amazing, and there's so much that people don't realize about it. It's something you can't gain a full appreciation for without walking through those jungles, seeing both the beauties of nature and also what man is doing to it. While my novel has some characters that strongly oppose the deforestation that's taking place there, I was careful to make sure it didn't come off as preachy or with a message behind the writing. Nothing turns me off more than when someone tries to convert me to their way of thinking in a piece of art. That being said, 100% of the proceeds from THE CREATION are being donated to organizations that are actively pursuing ways to save the rainforests. It's a small way in which I can contribute and allows me to believe that, despite my writing dark thrillers, maybe I can do some good in the world through my written words.
- What were the most challenging aspects of writing this novel, and what came easily?
HOUSEBROKEN was by far the more difficult of the two to write, mainly because it was such a contained thriller / story. I wrote a screenplay for THE CREATION a few years ago, which has been a rough blueprint for where I want to go with the novels and has definitely made the process a little easier. Though it has been surprising the different directions the book has taken from the outline of the script format.
- What did this book teach you about yourself as a writer and as a person?
In writing THE CREATION, I've had to get into the minds of some pretty despicable people. It's made me realize, however, that everyone--no matter their actions--feels justified in the choices they make. They may be the "wrong" choices and they may never know they're wrong, but there are reasons for them that, in the moment, make them the only viable choice. It's helped me to really look at people and the decisions and actions they make differently, allowing me to be a lot less judgmental in a strange way. This novel has also helped me to prove, to myself at least, that I am a writer. My debut novel wasn't a fluke or lucky accident. Writing has always been a big part of my life but this novel has helped me "feel" like an author.
- Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.
I'm concurrently working on the next chapters in THE CREATION series, as well as a horror novel which I feel has an extremely unique angle. Can't give much away about it yet, but I feel it could be a game changer.
- What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?
I ask my magic eight ball this every morning but so far it's been pretty murky with the answers. Right now I'm focused on continuing to write and slowly growing my reader base. I love that in today's market you don't have to be just a one-genre or type of writer. In the future, I see myself self-publishing, publishing with an imprint or even trad publisher, and continuing to explore the many options that are out there. Screenwriting is definitely not just a thing of the past as well.
THE BEHRG is the author of literary works ranging from screenplays to 'to-do' lists. His debut novel, HOUSEBROKEN, was a First-Round Kindle Scout Selection and semi-finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards. His latest novel, THE CREATION, is the first in a dark supernatural trilogy about a ‘god-like’ being starting the seven days of the Creation over again. Books two and three are due out in 2016. THE BEHRG’s ‘to-do’ list should be completed by 2017...(though his wife is hoping for a little sooner).
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