I would like to welcome my special guest, C.W. Browning, the author of Next Exit, Three Miles. Please enjoy the insightful interview!
1. Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
I suppose I would advise them to think very carefully about what they are looking for in publishing. There are options now that we didn’t have a few years ago: self-publishing versus trade publishing, ebooks versus print, or even hybrid publishing. Each option comes with its own set of pros and cons. But once you make a choice, whichever one you choose, be prepared to work your rear-end off! As hard as it is to get the finished product out there, the work doesn’t end with the published book. If anything, it’s just beginning. Be prepared to sell, promote, market and discuss your book…all while working on the next one. It’s a fantastic and wild ride, but once you get on, you’re on it until the end.
2. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My goal has always been, and I hope will always be, to entertain my readers. I want to write the kind of books that will distract you from whatever you have going on in your life and give you the opportunity to get lost. I want to make you laugh, cry, and hold your breath, trying to guess what will happen next. The overwhelming amount of positive feedback that I have been getting from my readers is truly humbling. I had one write and say that I kept her up half the night because she couldn’t put it down. Another one said she cried at the end of the book and didn’t want it to end. That is my goal, with every word I write, to make you lose yourself in the book. Thank you so much for taking a chance on me! I promise to only improve!
3. What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?
I think it’s a wonderful thing. I think it brings us more in contact with our readers and potential readers and forces us to really focus on what parts of our work are marketable and what people want to see and read. Sure, I would love to sit back and not have to do anything but write. I’d also love to win the lottery and buy an island somewhere and sip drinks with umbrellas all day. Reality is that we do have to work our tails off, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everything is a learning experience.
4. What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?
I write suspense novels, with a touch of romance in them. My favorite aspect is developing the characters within the pace of the suspense. Life moves quickly, and there isn’t always time to analyze every feeling we have when we have it. I try to bring that into my characters’ emotional development. If they can evolve emotionally while chasing terrorists, then there’s hope for the rest of us! I don’t have a least favorite aspect of writing. I truly enjoy it all…even the plot outlining. While it’s tedious, it is fun watching the plot form in basics, ready to be fleshed out. I actually just finished plotting out book 3 in the series. I got all the main points and arranged them into a flow chart so I could make sure everything inter-connected properly. I ended up with something resembling the subway map of London. At that point, I color-coded the arrows just for fun.
5. What are your current/next projects?
I’m currently working on Book 3 of the Exit series. As I mentioned, I finished plotting and I’m ready to start writing. I’m really looking forward to it! This is going to be a fun book to write and read! It’s got a haunted prison, Halloween, Day of the Dead and enough twists to…well…look like the London underground.
6. Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?
I write alone. Occasionally, I may bounce an idea off my daughter to see if it’s stupid or not…but really I write alone. However, once the book is finished, I have a group of test/beta readers who I rely on heavily to tell me what works, what doesn’t, and whether or not the book flows cohesively. They are truly invaluable…and they are absolute saints for doing it!
7. How do you find time to write?
I sacrifice a lot to find time to write. I work full time and do my writing at night and on the weekends. I do take breaks and get out and about, but I am very disciplined in the sense that if I want to get it done, I knuckle down and do it. My family and friends have learned that when I’m in the zone, they won’t see me. It’s just how it is.
8. Did you always want to become an author?
Yes. I tried very hard to convince myself otherwise. Let’s face it, as a rule, writing doesn’t pay well. But in the end, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I was born to write. So that is what I finally decided to do.
9. Is there any writing rituals you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?
Wine. I drink a lot of wine.
10. Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?
I tend to write straight through, beginning to end. On rare occasions, if I really get hung up on a chapter, I’ll skip it and come back to it. Or sometimes, I will write a great scene when I think of it and then insert it at the appropriate spot in the manuscript when I get there. But by and large, I write straight through.
11. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Hated? No. Have I thought something was embarrassingly bad? Absolutely. (some of my early manuscripts come vividly to mind…)
12. Which is easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?
Novel. Hands down. I can’t write short stories at all and have only the highest respect for those who can. I need the length of a novel to develop my characters and plot in a way that makes me feel like the reader can immerse themselves. I have tried doing that in shorter formats and failed miserably.
13. While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?
I try to put myself into my characters’ place in certain situations, and I think it’s inevitable that something of ourselves come out in our characters, but I don’t think I have ever actually run across feeling as though I was one of them. Perhaps part of all them…
14. How did you come up with the title?
Funny story, that. So I got the bright idea to have a brainstorming session with family. I got my sister, daughter and sister-in-law around a table with index cards and pens and we started throwing out words that had something to do with the book. Yeah…that didn’t work out so well. After about 3 very frustrating hours, we abandoned that idea. I asked what we think of when we think about Jersey (the book takes place in New Jersey). Someone, I don’t remember who, said exits. EVERYTHING in New Jersey is off an exit. If you ever want to know where something is in Jersey, you just ask, “What exit?” The book involves an attack on Three Mile Island, and so the title was born, Next Exit, Three Miles.
15. What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?
After finishing the sequel for Next Exit, Three Miles, I knew I wanted to bring the series back to New Jersey. The thing with Jersey is that, like other states, we have such a wealth of historical landmarks that most people know nothing about because, well, it’s New Jersey. People know us for the shore (and no, we’re nothing like Jersey Shore…at least, not in South Jersey) and they know us for New York. That’s about it. Even people who were born and raised here don’t know much about some of the places here. So I decided that I was going to highlight various points of interest in South Jersey, focusing on one for each book going forward. My latest one, that I am working on now, is set around the Mt. Holly Prison, a haunted prison that closed in 1968 and is now maintained as a museum. Because it is supposedly haunted (Ghost Hunters filmed an episode there), of course it was only natural to set the story in October. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that bodies start popping up mysteriously around the prison.
16. Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?
That’s very gracious of you! Thank you!
And thanks, Yawatta, for inviting me! 🙂