Tell us about your current book/project
My first book, Nasty, will be released on the 28th of August. It’s a detective novel that takes place in the Pacific Northwest. It was a long haul for the book, actually. I wrote it in the summer of 2006 in response to an editor at one of the big houses who’d seen a short story with the character published in a mystery magazine. She said when I finished the manuscript, I could send it directly to her. How often does that happen?
I’d already been researching the story, so I pumped out the book pretty quickly. Nothing like a little positive response to get the fingers clicking on the keyboard!
When I was finished, I made the mistake of asking her if I’d need an agent after I sent it in (newbie!), to which she responded:
“Oh, you know what? I’d much rather see it agented. When you find one, send it on in.”
If ever there was a face palm moment, that was it. Really, though, she did me a favor.
I went on to win the overall audience favorite at Pikes Peak Writer’s “American Icon” with a reading from the first chapter, plus I entered the book into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest that year. The book made it into the semi-finals.
It’s been through two publishing houses, (both of which went out of business before publication) and finally landed with Courtney Literary. During the entire process I was editing and re-writing, to the point that the book that is published now, isn’t really the same book it was when I wrote it. It contains the same story, but it’s better. Way better.
It’s a three book deal, so I’m currently I’m working on the sequel to Nasty, called Nasty People, and I’m researching the third, tentatively titled Nasty Business.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Louis L’Amour is said to have given the follow advice about writing: “Puke it out, and clean it up later.” Now, I don’t know if he really said that. I can’t find anything that credits him directly with that nugget, but – you know what? – it’s true! Tell the story.
Get it written down. It’s going to be ugly and sloppy and it might even stink a little, but get it out until you hit “the end.” After that, it’s time to clean it up and make it look and read like a book. You have to have a story to work with before you can have a book to sell.
If you could start all over again, which mistakes would you make more quickly this time?
I’d get past the whole hang-up I had with “needing” to find an agent before sending my manuscript out into the world. I know that agents can be very useful, of course. They’re indispensable in certain ways, but landing one shouldn’t be an end in itself.
I’ve met a lot of authors who only query agents, as if getting one is the only agency they can have in their careers as writers. There’s so much more! Enter that sucker in contests, send it out to actual publishers, both the big guys and the little ones. Consider indie publishing, even. There are so many more options now, and writers shouldn’t poo-poo or exclude any avenue. You have to ask yourself: What’s the point? Why do you want to publish that manuscript? Why is it important? Those questions can lead to answers that may surprise you. I wish I had figured that out earlier on.
Does it begin with character, or with plot?
Depends on what I’m writing. In the case of Nasty, I definitely started with character. I looked at who was writing successful detective fiction, and what those characters were like. Though I like many of them, none of them were what I wanted in a detective, so… I wrote him. I’m working on a couple of other books, — YA books — that are very much plot-driven, though. We’ll see where those go.
Tell us something we don’t know.
A baboon’s butt tissue is arranged such that blue photons are less scattered and penetrate at a shallower depth than other photons, such as red. This makes the blue photons more prominent and only the blue light makes it out of the butt tissue and into our eyes. That’s the short reason why some monkey butts are blue.
Also, I wrote the first Nasty short story on a complete dare, to prove to my wife I couldn’t write detective fiction. I’m sure some will agree with me!
If Amazon and Hachette decided to settle this the old fashioned way, should they use swords at dawn, or pistols at high noon?
Those are my choices? I will not be boxed in, sir! I choose gunblades at midnight, followed by a nice single-malt scotch. There should be werewolves involved, too. Yeah, definitely werewolves . . . with gunblades. Bam! There you go. Film it in silhouette against a full moon, and have the single-malt at the ready.
About Bret R. Wright
Bret R. Wright’s writing career began when he was 12, with the publication of a poem in a local library newsletter. He has been writing ever since, with work appearing in Futures Mysterious Athology Magazine, Phoenix, Grit, Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul, InsideMS magazine, InformArt Magazine, and several others. He also has experience as an editor, ezine publisher, and columnist. Currently, he is a freelance journalist, teacher, and has just released his first book, a detective novel called “Nasty.”
Check out Bret’s website here.
Check out all of Jim’s author interviews here.