Thursday, June 9, 2011
Interview with novelist Richard Brawer
Thriller author Richard Brawer is Reviews and Interviews' guest today.
After graduating the University of Florida and a stint in the National Guard, Richard Brawer worked 40 years in the textile and retail industries. He spends his retirement years writing novels, sailing, and gardening. He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife. Beyond Guilty is his fifth published novel.
Richard, please tell us about your current release.
Beyond Guilty is a high concept thriller where a wrongly convicted woman escapes from death row and fights to prove her innocence.
Teenager Eileen Robinson lives in an ideal, middle class African-American family in Houston, Texas. Through a careless act she causes the deaths of her two younger sisters. Tormented and alienated from her mother, she runs away from home. Befriended by a drug dealer, she moves in with him. At twenty-one she is a single mother of two falsely convicted of killing a state senator’s son and sentenced to death. At thirty-three she is executed. Or is she?
Reviewers have said about Beyond Guilty: "Twisting Action", "Thought Provoking", "A Fast Paced Thriller", "Sympathetic Character", "Authentic Dialogue", "Spirited Prose", "A Real Winner"
Please see all the reviews at my website.
What inspired you to write this book?
Beyond Guilty was inspired by a screen play written by my daughter, Marlo Brawer Lyons. In her script, the protagonist is an African-American male wrongly accused of a murder and sentenced to death. Despite her being a lawyer in the movie industry and the screenplay winning a number of awards including $1,000 from a “Writer’s Digest” contest, she was not able to generate interest in Hollywood. I said to her, “Let me write it as a book with an African-American female protagonist as there are many black actresses looking for a strong leading role.” Thus, Beyond Guilty was born.
However, in the process, the book took on a life of its own and dramatically deviated from the screen play. Marlo has written a new screen play from Beyond Guilty and is shopping it around.
What exciting story are you working on next?
A fourth Murder at the Jersey Shore mystery with Detective David Nance.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
First, let me say if one’s main consideration as having “made it” as a writer is money received, I have not yet made it. However, money was not my primary criteria. To me, getting rave reviews from both reviewers and readers was when I considered myself as having arrived as a writer. So I first considered myself a writer when my historical novel, Silk Legacy was published in 2006.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am retired, so I find plenty of time to write. I try to write every day, but occasionally I get stuck. I don’t like to write just to fill pages with words. If I’m stuck, I take a break and think about where I want the story to go next. Some of the inspiration comes during my hour walks that I take almost every day. Unfortunately, most of the inspiration that “unsticks” me comes when I turn the lights off in bed at night. I keep a huge pile of paper and a flashlight next to the bed to jot down the nocturnal inspirations. It is those nights that I don’t get a lot of sleep. There are even times I get out of bed and begin to write again, sometimes to dawn.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A businessman. The family have always been independent business owners in the textile industry of which the retail end was one facet.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I like to include something educational in my novels. In Beyond Guilty it's nanomedicine, a revolutionary field of medical science that has the potential by the mid 2020s to cure cancer, alzheimers, diabetes, and many more diseases.
Although only a small segment of the plot (the main focus being Eileen's quest to prove her innocence) nanomedicine is a fascinating subject. I chose it after reading an article about it in a magazine. My daughter's screenplay had her protagonist trying to salvage his DNA before it got destroyed to prove his innocence. I thought that was old news.
Of course I ran into immediate problems trying to include nanomedicine in the plot. I was neither a doctor nor a scientist. So I started research on the internet. 99% of the articles were way over my head, but one author, Robert A. Freitas Jr., Senior Research Fellow at the Institute For Molecular Manufacturing, explained it in "English". I contacted him and asked him if he would look at what I wrote. Not only was he happy to do so, he graciously edited the references to nanomaufacturing and nanomedicine and has written the essay at the end of the novel about the progress being made in developing nanomedicine.
The next question I had was would the reader understand the subject? I think this review answers that question: “The author’s inclusion of the concept of nanomedicine in the plot is articulate and intriguing …Readers who like the thrillers and mysteries with a medical theme should find Beyond Guilty interesting and entertaining, as well as faster-paced than most books in this sub-genre.” Von Pittman for The Genreview
Anything else you like to share with the readers today?
My writing process:
First: I form a major premise along with the ending of the story. In the mysteries it’s naturally "who-done-it." In the historical fiction novel, it’s the resolution between the characters. And in the suspense novels, it’s how to the protagonist gets out of peril.
Second: I create my protagonist and antagonist―their looks, quirks, and their experiences in life that affect their personalities and the way they react to events.
Third: I create a very rough outline as to how the story will progress from beginning to end. Note I said very rough as this changes as the story evolves.
Fourth: I try to create a captivating opening chapter such as finding the body in the mysteries, putting the protagonist in jeopardy in the suspense novel and creating the conflict in the historical fiction.
Finally: I write from my opening chapter to the conclusion of the story. I strive to take the reader on a journey that is never a straight line, but more like the line of a gyrating stock market. I place red herrings in my mysteries, adventure and jeopardy in my suspense novels and many setbacks in my historical fiction novel. However, one thing remains constant―there is always CONFLICT. The most important aspect of a novel is the conflict between the characters. Without conflict there is no story.
Richard, thank you for stopping by today and for sharing so much with us. Best of luck with your writing projects.