Friday, July 30, 2010

DO SUSPENSE IDEAS COME FROM SLIGHTLY DEMENTED MINDS?


I’d like to introduce Bryn Jones, a partner in crime (sorry about the cliché) over at Terry Burn’s client page. Bryn tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up on the mission field, surrounded by the Old World of Italy. While there, I started writing and drawing comic book super heroes. By the time I graduated from high school, my passion for writing drove me to write 10 screenplays, one of which was a quarter finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures Screenplay Competition (1994). After college I wrote for church newsletters, company papers, and any other place that would let me. In 2001 I sold my first article to Discipleship Journal. I wrote about trusting God while facing first-time fatherhood. I now have four wonderful children who constantly challenge and inspire me. My first major fiction sale was to Focus On The Family’s Breakaway Magazine. After selling six short stories to Breakaway, I decided to write a thriller for my first novel. I'm currently building a web site for my work at
www.bryntjones.com, which should go live soon.

Bryn, whatever made you put on the hat of writer? We all know it’s not for the money, not in today’s economy.

I've always enjoyed making up stories. My Grandma Jones always appreciated my creativity. I think that, along with my dad doing freelance writing inspired me toward that role. And yes, it is not financially rewarding at this point. What I find rewarding is when a story comes out the way I 'felt' it when I got the idea. I usually will get a feeling of something that I want to convey, followed by a couple images, a character emerges and the story builds from there. But the story doesn't always come out exactly like I felt it initially. A few times, the finished product creates that same feeling and I know I've hit exactly what I wanted when I got that first glimpse of the story.

What do you write? After seeing your you tube promo, I’m assuming it’s along the line of suspense/mystery?


I write all sorts of speculative fiction in my short work. I tend to select the genre that best forms a vehicle for the theme I'm writing. The Next Chapter, the one Terry Burns is marketing for me, is a suspense/thriller with a ticking-time-bomb pacing and some elements of The Fugitive. The theme involves God's sovereignty amid unimaginable situations. My current work, The Hand of God, is more Indiana Jones meets '24' and has more quippy humor and adventure to it. My short stories have been futuristic/End Times, werewolf, fantasy and action-adventure. So, I guess I'm sort of all over the board.

Where do your ideas come from? I always tell people mine come from a slightly demented mind. Wanna admit to that or do you have another, more sane, answer?

I guess I'll go with the demented mind theory. I rarely accept things the way they are originally presented. Thus, I find that the world is far more interesting and humans are much more complicated than the nightly news might indicate. As I sift current events and study the Bible, I get fired up about our duties before God and moral truths. My best outlet for that excitement is my writing.

How much time can you give to your writing? Do you set goals for yourself, something to achieve in x-amount of time?


My time is hard to apportion. When I wrote short stories for Breakaway and wrote my novel, The Next Chapter, I had two kids (and felt very busy). Now I have 4 kids 9 and younger. So, my goal that used to be to write at least 5 pages a day has been hard to keep. But I'm getting back there now that the kids are not hanging from light fixtures, climbing on tables or getting their legs stuck in floor vents as much anymore.

We all know getting an agent is probably harder than getting a publisher . . . “Sorry son, no experience, no sales, see me once you’re pubbed.” What was your road to finding an agent like?

I tried getting an agent or production company to look at my screenplays when I first started out. But I knew nothing about writing and my screenplays were faint shadows of a glimpse of an idea that might be promising if I'd taken the time to learn to write. It wasn't till a few years later that I figured that out and decided to get published in magazines. I read Strunk & White's Elements of Style and nearly memorized it. Then I wrote a number of short stories, exploring everything. They were mostly crazy and pointless. I submitted one of them to a magazine and got rejected. I was afraid of further rejection, but I forced myself to write an article about trusting God. It came as an idea from when I taught swimming. I would teach kids to float by holding the back of their head and have them lie back and look up at me. I'd tell them, “Lie back and look up and you'll float.” Then it hit me that God tells us the same thing. I wrote up the article, shopped it around to every magazine I could find and ended up selling it to Discipleship Journal. Liguorian also wanted it, so the next year I sold it to them, too. From there I got a short piece sold to Evangel, a Methodist bulletin insert, then got in touch with Michael Ross at Focus On The Family. He said he loved my style. I didn't know I had one, but I was thrilled. He ended up buying more stories than they were able to publish before the magazine was shut down. After that, I wrote my novel, which took a year to write the final draft. I'd written a rough draft in a few months, but scrapped it all. I re-wrote it, researched for it and took my time. When I was done, I wrote a proposal and marketed it to every agent that might consider Christian novels. I had positive interest to my query the whole way and had a good number of requests for the full manuscript. One fairly well-known agent kind of went back and forth on it after asking for a re-write. I had Trident Media looking at it, too. But everyone seemed to be hot, then cold or offered a simple pass. My wife thought I might want to give up and just write short stories. But I hung in there and I got an e-mail from Terry Burns. It was a Wednesday, I think, which I found was a good day to get e-mails (Mondays and Fridays are always bad). Terry said he sat down to read my manuscript and read it all the way through. I had to read that e-mail three or four times before it really sunk in. Soon I had a contract with Hartline. As for that being easier than getting a publisher, that remains to be seen, I suppose.

Tell us about the present story you’re shopping around? Mainly for men or for a mixed market? Want to give us a taste of what’s to come?

The Next Chapter comes from an idea I had of a writing game in which whatever is written would really happen. So, Sal Russo, a successful writer, gets a package that details a girl's abduction. The chapter ends with instructions for him to write the next chapter in her life, or she'll die. To convince him that this is for real, the killer includes bagged heart with the chapter. Sal remains skeptical until he sees breaking news about a girl abducted just like the chapter described. From there he finds himself being set up for various other girls who had been abducted years before. His only hope is to keep the girl alive somehow until he can find her, rescue her and clear his name.

My next book, The Hand of God, involves the discovery of a fragment of the original Ten Commandments that were shattered at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Various groups want to recover all the fragments for different reasons and the adventure will push the characters to face a truth they all find hard to accept. Is that vague enough? I'm in the process of writing it, so I can't really be more specific.

Your imagination is awesome and I can’t wait to read your first novel. You write a lot like my son who has the same, can’t write with kids situation, only so far, he plans to wait a few more years, but the writing sounds so similar. Yup! Demented minds. Runs in our family.


Bryn, thank you so much for joining us.
Hopefully, the next interview
is just around the corner when
your first book is released and you're
hearing rave reviews.

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like Bryan has written some great books. Looking forward to seeing them pubbed so we can read them. :)

    Hi, Bryan, I'm a client of Diana's!
    CB
    http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know, I'm anxious to read, too. But then, as you all know, I love a good, scary read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've had the privilege of reading a few chapters of Bryn's second book. All I've got to say is, if those were the rough draft, I can't wait to get my hands on the final.

    The man's good. Linda, you and I are going to be able to say we knew him when. Though from looking at Terry's recent sales and all those book covers, we may be saying it across the board. And, someday, God willing, to each other!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amen, sister. When your book is released, I want to do a review. Shucks, let's get Grisham to do the review. He'll be in AWE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks again, Linda! And thanks for the encouragement, Normandie. I do have my first six chapters of this book as notes on my facebook account.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Bryn, your books sound so intriguing! I enjoyed getting to know more about you and your writing style. Linda -- good questions!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Linda,

    Honey. You can be my best friend any day!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this blog - you always have such interesting interviews. Can't wait to read Bryn's books and yours! I loved the last post about murder in the dog days of summer - heat just seems to bring out the 'beast' in everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It sure does. Murder is wonderful (that's so strange to say) when the weather beat down on you and you can't get a deep breath. Whew! Always a good time for murder or mayhem! Glad you like it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My site at www.bryntjones.com is now live.

    ReplyDelete