Monday, September 17, 2012

Author interview with Brian MacLearn

Morning, all! 

A couple of days ago I reviewed Brian MacLearn's novel Remember Me. Today, find out where in time Brian would travel to in my interview with him.

About the Book

Tell us a bit about your novel.  "Remember Me" is much more than a story about time travel.  When asked, I describe it as my "morality story."  We are shaped by the events in our lives.  We also spend a fair share of time wondering "What if."  The story is wrought with intrigue and sub-plots, but at its core is love and commitment.  I wanted to explore the emotional aspects of what reliving a time in the past might feel like.  Andrew doesn't magically revert in age; he is still fifty and a total outsider.  He can live a new life of wealth, abandoning all those cherished people in his life, or he can test time by trying to help them. 

What gave you the idea for Remember Me? How long did it take you to write?  I have always been fascinated with the idea of time travel.  It is one of those topics that never has a right answer.  After the emotional side of "Our Heart", I wondered what it would be like for a man to live twenty-five years over again. He wouldn't get the benefit of reverting in age; this effectively makes him an outsider.   I wrote the story over a to pay the bills too.  If I could have sat at the computer for 4 hours a day...2 months.

Which character was your favourite to create? Why?  Tom.  Every good story needs a hero and a villain, and Tom is a very hateable villain.  I wanted people to picture a guy just like him in their lives.  The more personal you become with the story the more meaningful it is. 

 If your book was turned into a movie, who would you choose to play the leading characters?  I believe that Kyra Sedgwick would make a good Amy.  Andrew/Peter is a lot tougher.  My first thought is Edward Norton.

What’s your writing process like?  A process...if you could call it that?  My mind has been cluttered with ideas my entire life.  It is only getting fuller.  I seriously wanted the first novel done when I turned 30, didn't happen for 20 more years, lol. Over the past 30 years, I've started several books, only to set them aside.  My first complete novel was "Our Heart."  (Pure Nicholas Sparks type story.)  It originated as song lyrics.  A young man comes home after several years. He traces the names, which he once carved into a heart on a tree, with his fingertips.   My fiancée suggested that the lyrics would make a good Hallmark movie, or book.  After thinking about it for a few days, I shut down the story I was working on.  I opened a new page, typed "Our Heart," reread the lyrics, and let the feeling that I experienced in writing the song take over.  In all truth, I never knew where that story would go, or what character would enter next.  The best analogy that I can use is this.  Like the r sculptor who says that it was always there, all they had to do was chip away the parts that didn't belong, so is my writing style.  I'm just the messenger; the characters write the story.  With "Remember Me" I knew the beginning and the end, the rest I let them tell me what would happen.  

The book is about time travelling. If you could go back (or forward) to any time, what year would you choose?  Great question.  It stabs at the heart of the story.  It would be easy to list all the great events in history that you could witness, or the moments of regret in our personal lives.  The chance to erase regrets is a powerful elixir.  The future might show hope, or bring utter despair.   In the story, Andrew was faced with the events of 9/11, it became a moral issue for him to overcome.  I'm sitting in the DeLorean, my hand is on the dial, I turn it to... one of the happiest days in my life.  I let it fill me once again with hope and love.  Life chips away at the good.  My well is generally more than half-full, but what I wouldn't give to have it completely filled. 

About the author
What is a normal day for you? Take us through your usual routine.  Get up, make coffee, and check my emails.  I'm also a financial advisor by trade...I know...analytical verses creative--I am effectively a "quandary."  I love solving puzzles, and that's where the financial planner comes from.  I solve the issues of the day, spend an hour on the treadmill, and then...  It might be whatever needs to be done, and sometimes it could be 1-7 straight hours of writing.  I'm always writing in my head regardless.  Some days, weeks, its more.   I work from home so I have the freedom to take on whatever moves me.

When you’re not writing, what else do you like to do?  Read, sing, watch movies, bowl, golf, go to Iowa Hawkeye football games, canoe the wilderness of the MN boundary waters, hike the Appalachian trail, fish, camp, babysit my granddaughters, and travel when possible. 

Tell us about the day you found out Remember Me was going to be published. How did you react?  With "Our Heart" I was on top of the world.  "Yes...I did it!"  "What if nobody likes it." The emotions were all over the place.  When I finished "Remember Me," I was already moving on to the next story.  I'd been through the process and understood that I am now a writer...good or great...yet to be seen.  I do know that each story I write will get better.  I am where I am supposed to be.  It took me a long time to get here.  I need to write, and tell the stories that fight for prominence within my head.

Is there a certain book that has made a lasting impression on you?  The first book that I ever read more than once, I read when I was in third grade.  It's one of only a few that I can say that about, "Where the Red Fern Grows."  I even read it aloud to both of my daughters.  It's extremely difficult to read when you can't see the words through your tears.

What made you want to become a writer?  I don't think you become, you just are.  I'm overly empathetic.  Hallmark card commercials get the best of me.  I needed to find a way to express all of those emotions...poetry, song lyrics, stories.  I knew in 7th grade that it was going to be a part of my life.  The English teacher assigned a short fiction story of at least 4 pages.  Mine was over 20. His comment was, "What an imagination. Maybe someday you'll be a writer." 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want to have with you?  Duct tape,  matches, knife,  water, and a companion.

What’s next for Brian MacLearn? I'm well into the next novel entitled "Ridicule."  It's a psychological take on domination, not the sexual kind, but the manipulative kind.  Instead of a husband-wife scenario, it is about two boyhood (friends?) that still have manipulation 20 years later.  An event triggers the latent hero and he rises up.  The story will be intense and powerful...with a surprise ending...I think--the characters haven't yet told me what is going to happen.  There will also be a love interest, and the story will happen over a two-day period.  My goal is always to put real emotion into all of my characters.  It starts fast and keeps building throughout.  Three or four books down the line, I will have to revisit "Our Heart," and finish what was left unsaid. (fan requests also) 

Bonus Questions
Favourite movie/TV show/food/season?  Too many to mention.  I rarely watch a movie over again.  Some of my favorites are: Terminator, Rocky, Remember the Titans, Sleepless in Seattle,  Lord of the Rings, the list goes on and on.  TV: Fringe, Supernatural, The Voice, True Blood, Lost, Storage Wars. (lol). Food: I go nuts if I don't have a hamburger once in awhile.  Season: Fall

Watching or playing sports?  Both; I bowl and golf, my basketball and football days are long behind me.  I watch college football and the Olympics. 

1980s or 2000s? 1980's. They still offered promises of wonderful things to come.  People still talked live with each other, manners were still used.  Most people took responsibility for their actions.  It's scary knowing everything you say or do could show up on a report or YouTube somewhere.  I love technology, just not the coldness that comes with it.  Sometimes it feels like embitteredness and chaos have become the new normal.

Worst fear?  Losing my mind and not being able to write all of the stories in my head. Living the rest of my life alone.

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