BRIAN KEENE - DAILY BLOG
I Am Zombie Groot

My 6-year old and I have a Halloween party to attend this weekend. He selected a Rocket Raccoon costume from the store last month, and decided that I should be Groot, which I dig. But yesterday, he decided we should be the Marvel Zombies versions of Rocket and Groot.

His imagination rivals my own, and every single day, I am delighted with the ideas he comes up with. Last week, while playing with Star Wars action figures, he decided that the Death Star had a gift shop. It is apparently one level up from the detention level. He had Luke, Han, and Chewie stop there on their way to rescue Leia. When I asked him why, he patiently explained that they were going to blow the Death Star up, so this would be their last chance to buy Empire mugs and t-shirts.

He also says that when he grows up, he’s going to reboot Star Wars so that, quote: “Darth Vader doesn’t invent C3PO and the Ewoks are Wookies instead.”

I was never very good at things like playing sports, being a husband or boyfriend, automobile maintenance or carpentry. But I’m an okay writer. And I think I’m a pretty good father.

And I’ll make one hell of a zombie Groot.

Perspective

It doesn’t matter if your girlfriend just broke up with you or your boyfriend just ran off with someone else. It doesn’t matter if your dog just died or the bank just repossessed your car.

That novel you were working on? It’s still there, waiting for you.

And also your cat. Your cat is waiting, too. 

But cats are fickle creatures who will eat your face two days after you are left paralyzed on the kitchen floor by a stroke.

Better to trust in the novel.

It’s there. Waiting. Go to it.

Exorcising Ideas

Earlier this week, Travis Benge asked (via Twitter), “What steps do you use to get an idea from your head and on to paper?”

The first thing you need to know is that every author is going to answer this question differently. There really is no “wrong” way to do this — unless your method isn’t working for you, in which case it probably is the wrong way and you should try a different method.

What follows is *my* method, and it’s one that has worked for me for many years.

I never start with just the idea. I always need the idea, the first sentence, and a feel for who my main character is before I start writing. Because of this, the idea itself will float around in my head for weeks, months, and — in a few cases — years before I start working on it.

***

A few examples:

1. Back in the late-90s, I was driving up the East Coast to see my oldest son (who was then just a little guy). A terrible snowstorm hit, and they shut down the highway. A state trooper told me to get off the road, and I assured him I would. After he was out of sight, I continued on my way. I thought to myself, “A blizzard and the cops won’t stop me from seeing my son. What would? A nuclear war? No. A zombie apocalypse? No, but that would make a kick-ass novel.”

And…BOOM. There was the idea. A father trying to reach his son during the zombie apocalypse.

Next came the character. In this case, that was easy. The character was a version of me. Not 100%, but I could imbue him with my own thoughts and hopes and fears.

The opening sentence came a few weeks later.

And once I wrote that first sentence, it eventually turned into a novel called THE RISING.

2. Earlier this year, I got stuck in Oregon for an extra day, and decided to walk around the little town I was in and explore a bit. In doing so, I decided that I’d love to set a story in that town, so I jotted down a bunch of notes — just rough impressions of geography, local establishments, the demeanor of the people there, etc. I even had an idea for the opening sentence (inspired by some trees I saw).

Problem was, I had no idea and no character to go with it. All I had was the setting and a possible first line.

A few months later, Christoper Golden asked me to write a vampire story for an anthology he was editing. I came up with an idea, and then, after considering it further, realized it fit perfectly into that setting. And that story became "The Last Supper" (which should be available before the end of the year).

***

I’m a big proponent of the school of thought which states that good ideas will stay with you no matter how long it takes to write them down, and that bad ones will dissipate. In the twenty years I’ve been doing this, I’ve been lucky enough to turn forty plus ideas into books, another hundred plus into short stories, and another thirty or so into comic books. That’s approximately 170 ideas that made it to paper. I guarantee you there are twice that many that never did, and never will, because I’ve forgotten them. I don’t write them down because I believe that in doing so, you lose some of your investment in them. Ideas need time to grow — at least for my muse — and growing is an organic process. Writing them down lessens that process for me. It’s the difference between a farmer like my father was, and the big GMO factory farms we have today. There are also ideas floating around in my head simply because I haven’t had time to write them yet. The good ones will stay there, until I find the time to do so. The bad ones will eventually dissipate back into the Idea Space, where another artist may tap into them and do something better with it than I could have.

So, experiment and find out what method works for you. But in the end, getting that initial idea out on paper really is just as simple as getting it out on paper. Write it down. Write it out. Then keep writing, until you have a story or a novel.

Then get another idea.

Good morning.  

Permuted Press Part 2, or, Solidarity Isn’t Just For Unions

Yesterday, I linked to a number of Blogs and reports from other authors detailing allegations about Permuted Press. I stated that, based on the evidence presented, I would be joining those authors (as a consumer) in boycotting the publisher until it did the right thing by all its authors. Throughout the day, more former and current Permuted authors offered their own thoughts, many of which echoed the complaints of the original posters.

A handful of current Permuted authors, however, took issue with my Blog entry. Their rebuttals varied from “Gabrielle Faust is lying” to “At least when Permuted fucks you, they buy you dinner first!” In the case of the former, the individuals in question did not respond when it was pointed out to them that other authors were reporting similar allegations independently of Gabrielle Faust. And I don’t think I even need to point out the lunacy in the “Well yeah, they fucked us but they bought us lunch first” defense.

One thing I saw echoed was a concern that, yes, while a number of authors did apparently get screwed, not everyone did, and a boycott was unfair to those authors who were still with the company, as it would impact their bottom line.

"We’re sorry some of our peers got screwed," was the theme of the refrain, "but we’re still here. What can we do about it? All a boycott will do is impact our own personal bottom line."

Which is fair. Yes, a consumer boycott does impact them. But so does a publisher holding on to the print rights of their peers. Any time a publisher does anything to an author, it impacts all authors, because it sets a precedent.

What impacts one author impacts us all.

During the respective falls of both Dorchester and Night Shade, you saw authors from outside those respective stables standing in solidarity with the authors directly effected. More importantly, you saw authors WHO WERE STILL WITH DORCHESTER AND NIGHT SHADE urging Dorchester and Night Shade to do the right thing.

Why? Because what impacts one author impacts us all.

A young author asked me recently why I was so interested in the Hatchette/Amazon fight, since I’m not published by Hatchette. I explained the big picture to her, demonstrating that the outcome of that decision will impact us all, no matter which way it plays out. You cannot be a professional author and NOT have a stake/interest in that fight.

What impacts one author impacts us all.

Publicly, it’s no secret that there’s no love lost these days between myself and the HWA. But earlier this year, when there was some behind the scenes nonsense concerning my receiving the Grandmaster Award, some HWA officers privately stepped into the fight, on my side. And those officers know I would do the same for them, regardless of our disagreements. Why? Not because I’m going to run for office in the organization. But because what impacts one author impacts us all.

Personally, I am not a fan of some of the things said over the years by Vox Day (Theodore Beale) and Requires Only That You Hate (Benjanun Sriduangkaew). But if they were getting screwed by a publisher, I’d draw my sword and join their fight. Why? Not because I’m a Libertarian. Not because I’m anxious to play out some gender role. But because what impacts one author impacts us all.

So, if you’re still with Permuted Press, what can you do? Well, instead of shooting the messengers, you can go to your publisher, privately or publicly, and say, “Look. I’m very happy with you. But we’re getting an awful lot of bad press, and it is personally impacting my bottom line. Will you please consider reverting these print rights, or at least addressing everyone’s concerns in a prompt, responsible, and public fashion?”

And if they don’t, then ask yourself if they are really concerned about your own bottom line.

Because what impacts one author impacts us all.


Postscript: Now, I’ve written about this for two days, and feel I’ve clearly communicated my thoughts and where I stand on the issue. If anyone, on either side, wants to continue to argue or misconstrue what I said, they’ll have to do so without my participation. I’ve got other stuff to take care of.

Permuted Press: A New Age of Fuckery

There is a justified uproar about the business practices of Permuted Press right now. You can read all about it via Graeme Reynolds, Gabrielle Faust, and R. Thomas Riley, (three newer authors whom I have an immense amount of respect for) and William Miekle (who’s been at this I think as long as I have and knows the score). Update: And here’s one from another new author, Jack Hanson).

Authors have privately been asking me to look into this over the last few weeks, and although I’ve been dealing with a friend’s alarming health diagnosis, and an alarming health diagnosis of my own, and deadlines, and the every day adventures of being the parent of a six-year old, I have. I have looked into it and it is abhorrent. It is not, however, illegal.

Permuted Press should, on good faith to the community and their stable, revert those print rights back to the individual authors. That would be the right and moral thing to do. However, corporations seldom do the right or moral thing, especially when Intellectual Property is involved, and especially when that Intellectual Property can be strip-mined for film, comic books, television, merchandising, etc. And in the case of Permuted, they have no legal obligation to do the right or moral thing. Indeed. their legal obligation is to hold on to those rights, because as I understand it, the contracts their authors signed state that they can.

As I said on Laird Barron’s Facebook Page this morning, “Permuted has been dodgy since day one. I did an Afterword for one of their very early anthologies, got a glimpse at their contracts then, and stayed far away. A decade + later, nothing much seems to have changed, despite new owners.

But it’s also important to note that, unlike Dorchester, it doesn’t sound as if Permuted is doing anything ‘illegal’. Dodgy? Yes. Shifty as fuck? Yes. But from what sources have told me, they are going by contractual terms, and if the authors signed those contracts with those terms, then that’s not illegal.

Laird is absolutely right. You need to understand what you are signing and what it means for your IP. Take a community college business course (like I did), come from a business background, or get an agent (or ideally, all three). In this age, Intellectual Property is king, and the advent of digital means your IP can stay in print in perpetuity, and make other people a lot of money — unless you’ve got control of it. 

Let me be clear. I stand firmly with the authors in this fight, and I will personally boycott purchasing all Permuted Press titles until the company does the morally right thing (and I applaud you if you do the same) and reverts those print rights to their authors.

But we are going to see more and more and more stories like this, and at some point, boycotts and Blogs aren’t going to be enough. 

In the aftermath of Dorchester and others, and with the advent of respectable, responsible self-publishing via digital, and with the headline-grabbing stories of IP battles in comic book and YA publishing, there is absolutely no excuse for authors not managing control over their rights and their IP. The days of simply writing the books and letting others control the paperwork are gone. As an author, it is your responsibility to shepherd your IP.

1. Never, ever publish without a contract.

2. Never, ever sign a contract unless you understand it. If you are using an agent, make that agent explain the parts you don’t understand. If the agent doesn’t want to explain it, get a new agent.

3. Never, ever sign a contract you’re not comfortable with just because you are excited to be published or to be working with that publisher.

4. Never, ever give away the rights to anything. Make sure you are paid for them. If you are dealing with a book publisher, why would you give them your movie rights? Are they making movies, or are they publishing books? Never assume those rights won’t be used. For 20 years, I’ve retained the rights to things like apparel, toys, etc. for my books. Those rights were never used by anyone, yet I made sure I retained them. Now, there is a successful line of t-shirts based on my books being produced by a vendor. Had I not held on to those rights, I would have had to either split those monies with my publishers, or not made a cent off them at all.

You can’t just be a writer these days. I’m sorry. I know that’s not romantic. But it’s true. In addition to being a writer, you have to be a salesperson and a marketer and an agent and a lawyer. Or else you need to hire one of each and have them on your team.

Most importantly, you need to remember that quite often, your peers and readers will also be on your team. if you do get screwed, then you need to do as Graeme, Gabrielle, and R. Thomas have done above. You have the right (and I personally believe an obligation) to speak out publicly, stating the facts and letting the public decide.

Good morning.


UPDATE: Click here for a follow up.

The Leaves Fall Faster

For the past twenty years, we’ve watched the writers we grew up reading die — by and large — broke, penniless, poor, without access to proper health insurance or healthcare, without a retirement plan, without savings for a rainy day, and we swore that when we got to that point we’d learn from those mistakes, and we’d find a way to monetize our various IPs so that we didn’t have to keep writing new stuff in our golden years, and we wouldn’t die in hospices, and our memorials wouldn’t be held in retirement homes where the presiding clergy castigates what we wrote for a living, and we wouldn’t need to rely on fundraising anthologies put together by our peers and the wholesale liquidation of our archives and estate years before we actually passed.

And now, twenty years later, as the clock comes round, how’d we do with that? How did we fucking do, living from royalty check to royalty check and bill to bill?

Yeah, me neither.

Maybe the next generation will make a better go at it.

Autumn sure came on fast, and I have so far enjoyed the season, but there is so much yet to do and the leaves are coming down faster… 

Good morning.

People Are People

When my novel DEAD SEA first came out years ago, many critics and reviewers made a big deal out of the book’s main protagonist being a gay Black man. They made an even bigger deal out of the fact that a straight White guy had written it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Those reviews were universally kind and enthusiastic. They celebrated the fact that it was a diverse horror novel. But what left me bemused (and still does) was their questions. Why did I go with a non-White, non-straight hero? What was I trying to say? And how did I make him so authentic? How did I get inside his head? 

My answer was always the same: my readership is estimated at somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 (depending on the availability of the book, price point, and other factors). Not all of those readers are straight white males. Not all of my friends are straight white males. Not all of my peers are straight white males. And not all of the world is straight white males.

I have no agenda, other than creating realistic characters that people can identify with, feel for, and believe. Those three elements are crucial for any type of character-driven fiction, but they are absolutely essential for horror fiction. My only goal has always been to create characters that my audience can identify with, no matter what color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

One of the novel’s I’m working on right now has a main protagonist who is trans. I’m sure when it comes out, the critics and reviewers will ask those questions again. Why did I make the hero trans? What was I trying to say? How did I get into their head and make them so believable?

And my answer will be the same.

People are people. When you get past the dogma and affiliations that divide us on the surface, deep inside we all have the same hopes and fears. Hope and fear are the two things that drive horror fiction.

People are people so why shouldn’t fictional people be representative of the same? There doesn’t have to be an agenda. It doesn’t have to be shoehorned in. There should never be a soapbox (at least in escapist fiction). But a writer can and should do their best to reflect the world around them. And there are all kinds of people in this world.

Good morning. 

Courtesy of @simondo​ 

Courtesy of @simondo​ 

Fear of an Old Planet

Yesterday evening, I pull in to a convenience store to get gas. I’ve got Public Enemy’s Apocalypse 91 booming from the car stereo. Apocalypse 91, by the way, comes in at #2 on my list of the Top Ten Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of All Time (sandwiched between Dr. Dre’s The Chronic at #1 and Ice-T’s Home Invasion at #3).

But I digress. Anyway, I get out of the car and proceed to gas up. My radio is still playing. I notice a group of teenagers loitering and watching me. They look like one of those multicultural street gangs that only existed in 70s movies or 80s Marvel Comics. This makes me happy. When I was a teenager, I also loitered in this particular store’s parking lot from time to time, and back then, you never saw black kids, white kids, and brown kids hanging out together like that. It’s yet another little reminder of how diversity has come to rural Central Pennsylvania.

One of them nods at me and asks, “What is that?”

"An Oldsmobile Aurora," I say, thinking he means the car.

"No, the music."

"That’s Public Enemy."

"It sounds…different."

I shrug. “This is what rap used to sound like, back when it was about things other than how much money you got, and who was guest-starring on your song.”

He blinks at me.

"I like the beat," one of his friends says.

"Listen to the lyrics," I advise. "They mean something. Listen…"

From the car, Chuck D says, “You never know if you only trust the TV and the radio. These days you can’t see who’s in cahoots cause now the KKK’s wearing three-piece suits…”

The kids then ask me what year the song was recorded. When I tell them, they grin.

One of them says, “Damn, that shit is old. I’m gonna see if my Moms has it at home.”

I drive away, feeling a strange simultaneous mix of bemusement, hope for the future, and of getting very, very old.
 

More on BTK and HWA

Last week, I wrote this Blog entry about various HWA members’s repugnant responses to an interview with the daughter of the notorious BTK serial killer, in which she criticized Stephen King.

The reporter of the original news story, Roy Wenzel, contacted me last week for a follow-up piece about the controversy. And although I am quoted in it, I had the flu at the time, and didn’t turn the rest of my interview questions in in time for publication. But I think they’re pretty good answers, especially given that they were written under the influence of NyQuil, so I’m reproducing them here for posterity.

***

On what Kerri Rawson said about King’s BTK-related work:

Well, I think she’s speaking from a place of unimaginable pain and sorrow, and I’m sympathetic to that. I make my living imagining what other people are going through, but I cannot fathom what it must be like for her. I feel for her. But, that being said, as a creator, I obviously disagree with her comments. They are her opinion, but it’s an opinion I disagree with.

On why some people blame the horror genre after a tragedy.

It’s foolish — and dangerous — to blame an artist or an artist’s work. And yes, even though video games and horror novels are mass-produced entertainment, they’re still art and they’re still produced by artists. Should Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails or Celine Dion be held responsible if someone suffering from depression and a broken heart reacts badly to one of their songs? Should filmmakers take the blame if an unstable individual identifies with the wrong elements of TAXI DRIVER or DEXTER?

I grew up reading Stephen King. The only influence he had on me is that I also make my living writing horror novels. I had friends who grew up reading Stephen King. They went on to become a doctor, a mechanic, a tech support worker, and a foundry supervisor. And another one went to jail. In all of their cases, I don’t think SALEM’S LOT or THE STAND pushed them one way or the other.

These are works of fiction. They are meant to entertain. They are meant to get you through your lunch break or study hall or your long commute home. They’re to keep you company at night, or to provide a temporary distraction from whatever you have going on in life. Some people have a bizarre emotional reaction to CATCHER IN THE RYE, but we don’t blame Salinger for that.

On why people enjoy the horror genre.

I think there’s a safety in it. There’s a safety in fictional monsters. In real life, there are monsters flying airplanes into skyscrapers and abducting children and embezzling retirement funds. And there seems to be more of them all the time. Fictional monsters provide a release from all that.

On why I took a stand against the HWA members and their comments.

I can’t stand bullying, and what I saw — from my perspective — was a young woman being bullied. No, I don’t agree with what she said, but like I said before, it comes from a place of unimaginable pain, and I think the name-calling and derision of her by people who are supposed to be professionals in this field was just as wrong. There’s too much ugliness in the world. As writers — especially writers of horror fiction — we should be looking for beauty and truth and compassion instead.

***

So, there you have it. Roy tells me that BTK himself has also commented on this, which you can read about here

I have a new limited edition collectible coming out in a few days. I tense every time this happens, because every time it happens, there is a small segment of my readership that seems to take it as a personal affront to them (mostly on Facebook).

It doesn’t matter that signed, limited edition books have been a part of literature (and genre) since the late 1800s.

It doesn’t matter that they are produced for the collector and hobby market, the same way limited edition DVDs, CDs, comic books, toys, and other collectibles are.

It doesn’t matter that everyone from Stephen King to some new writer you’ve never heard of also release signed, limited editions of their work.

When I do it, I’m invariably told that I’m a) a sell-out, b) screwing my fans c) only doing it for the money.

So, let me get a jump on that before the book is announced later this week. A and B are simply not true. And as for C, well of course I do it for the money. Writing is my job, and I expect to be fucking paid for my job. If you don’t think I should be paid — if you don’t think I should be able to provide for my family — then quite frankly, you’re not someone I want reading my books anyway. 

Another problem that arises is there are some readers who, through no fault of their own, have never seen a signed, limited edition book, and don’t understand why it costs more than a $7.99 paperback. A few years ago, I made this video (embedded above) explaining the differences. I’d like all of you to go watch it now.

If you’re interested in the limited edition, it costs $59. Below is the book description. It should be available for pre-order later this week.

Two of the biggest names in modern horror, and creators of two of the most popular mythologies in current weird fiction.

Now, for the first time, the secrets of each author’s mythos are revealed.

LIBRA NIGRUM SCIENTIA SECRETA (THE BLACK BOOK OF SECRET KNOWLEDGE) is a fictional treatise examining the back-story behind the mythos of Brian Keene and J.F. Gonzalez. Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, this profusely-illustrated work of art is a dream come true for devotees of both author’s works. Part spell-book, part history, and part religious text, Libra Nigrum Scientia Secreta reveals the secrets behind Hanpa, the Thirteen, the Dark Ones, the Labyrinth, and much more. 

Through an arrangement with the publisher, this volume will be the only edition of this work ever published, making it a true collector’s item.The book will be issued in a Hardcover limited edition of 400 copies priced at $59. No paperback, digital or trade hardcover will ever be produced of this edition. Bound in high quality Pellaq embossed Crocodile pattern, french marbled endpapers, unique signature sheet, color frontis piece and lavishly illustrated. Book will be signed by both authors and artist Alex McVey.

Ebola For Christmas

I’m getting over the flu this weekend. If I had a nickel for every person that said, “Maybe you have Ebola”, I’d be wealthy. They say it as a joke, of course, but underneath any good joke there is always a truth, and the truth is, people are nervous.

And they should be. 

I’m not a fear-monger in real life (although I get paid to be one for my job). I’m not a conspiracy nut. But I am a realist. And realistically, I look at the facts so far, and I get nervous, too.

1. As of this morning, one case has been confirmed in Dallas. We’ve heard of potential cases in Georgia, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, Virginia, Washington D.C., Kentucky, and Toronto (which is part of North America, so I’m counting it). 

There’s a chance some of these cases may very well be Ebola. There’s also a chance that none of these cases will be Ebola, and instead, will be panicked, frightened people with the flu who are convinced they have Ebola. The longer this goes on, the more frightened, panicked people you have. Enough frightened, panicked people with the flu who think they have Ebola can totally overwhelm our healthcare system, which is still fucked by the way, no matter what either political party tells you.

Overwhelm the hospitals and doctors with frightened, panicked people, and things will get very bad in time for Christmas.

2. The other thing that makes me nervous is the comedy of errors in the response so far, not only from Dallas authorities, but from the CDC, DHS, and other federal organizations. We’ve all seen the news footage of the crew pressure washing the victim’s highly-infected vomit off the sidewalk while not wearing any protective gear whatsoever. We know that he was misdiagnosed by the hospital, and sent back home to possibly infect more. We know that one of the people he possibly infected took a trip to Walmart to buy a blanket. We know that the ambulance he was transported in and the EMS professionals who were with him weren’t taken out of circulation until almost 48 hours later. We know that last night, the mayor of Dallas asked everybody to go to block parties and fish fries and football games (oddly echoing the mayor of Amity in JAWS, with his insistence that everyone go to the beach, despite the fact that a shark had killed somebody).

I can excuse the local Texas authorities. Local municipalities are seldom prepared for things on this potential scale of magnitude. They relied on information and orders from the CDC, DHS, and other federal agencies—all of whom have once again dropped the ball.

What really concerns me is the number of people who watch the CDC response, and nod their heads enthusiastically, and repeat, “We can handle this. We are not Liberia. Our government is equipped to deal with this.” Because that’s simply not true. They bungled their response on 9/11. They bungled their response to Hurricane Katrina. They bungled their response to the financial meltdown and the bank bailout. They bungled their response to Benghazi. They’ve bungled their response to Ferguson. And they will bungle their response to this new crisis. That’s because we are relying on bureaucracy. We’re not talking about your favorite political party or favorite President. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans, Liberals or Conservatives, Bush or Obama. Bureaucracy exists beyond those parameters. Bureaucracy is a slow, lumbering, stupid beast, and it cannot respond swiftly. 

Don’t expect bureaucracy to keep you safe from Ebola, or any other crisis. Responsibility for your safety and the safety of those you care about, begins and ends with you. Country boys like myself have always known this. These days, trendy folks call that “prepping” and there are TV shows about it, and I get to teach my city friends how to can green beans the way my Grandma did, and run a trout line the way my Grandpa did, and skin a buck the way my father did. You can call it prepping if you like. We always just called it a part of life.

Education and self-reliance will beat panic and bureaucratic incompetence every time.

If you disagree with me, that’s cool. It’s okay. But this Ebola thing? It’s not going away anytime soon. And at some point this winter, you or a family member are going to catch the flu. And at some point during that, you’re going to feel a twist in your gut, and you’re going to wonder…is it just the flu?

All I want for Christmas is for people to start thinking for themselves and taking care of each other, rather than letting bureaucracy do both.

Good morning. 

THE RISING t-shirts

I am very happy to announce that I have partnered with SkurvyInk for a new series of t-shirts, the first of which is…

THE RISING t-shirts

I am very happy to announce that I have partnered with SkurvyInk for a new series of t-shirts, the first of which is…

If Not For The Money, Then Why?

My response, when asked about how much money your average fiction writer makes (excerpted from this new interview with me at Bleeding Cool, because it’s not yet 5am and I am too groggy to think of anything else to Blog about this morning):

"I’d probably be making more if I’d become an HVAC technician or got an IT job, but I do okay. I’m a single dad with one son in elementary school and another in college. I’m not rich, and my Wednesday pull-list is bare bones (especially at today’s cover prices), but the bills are paid and my kids are fed and at the end of the day, that’s all you can really ask for from any job. Yes, writing for a living is incredibly hard. There’s no 401K, no health insurance, and usually no chance of retirement. How many times a month do we hear about a veteran comics writer or mid-list genre novelist who are undergoing financial distress in what should be their golden years?

It happens all the time, and it’s fucking terrifying because you know it’s just a matter of time and a roll of the dice until that’s you some day. You don’t have those worries with other jobs. But at the same time, writing for a living offers rewards and freedoms that other jobs never do. For example, I make my own hours, which means I can devote more time to my kids than most working parents can. That alone is worth it right there. Also, I get to give back to a genre and a medium that has given me countless hours of entertainment and enjoyment throughout my life. If I get someone through study hall or their daily commute or a lonely night home alone, if I distract them from whatever is going on in their life that they don’t want to think about, then I’ve done my job. I think that’s a noble thing. Books and comics were always an escape for me. I like providing others that same escape. It’s a hard job, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.” 

Lengthy interview with me at Bleeding Cool, in which I answer many things you’ve probably been wondering…