To begin, please introduce yourself to our audience. What is your name? Who are you? What books have you written?
Thom Brannan’s the name, and there is something wrong with me. I’m a former submariner, unlicensed nuclear plant operator, electrician and radiation worker who now works in the offshore oilfield.
My works include Survivors, the third book in Z.A. Recht’s Morningstar Strain series, Pavlov’s Dogs and The Omega Dog with D.L. Snell, and my own novels, Lords of Night, Sad Wings of Destiny, and the upcoming World of Trouble.
What first inspired you to become a writer? And what compels you to continue your career as an author?
The blame falls squarely on my late 12th grade English teacher. Mrs. Isela V. Gonzalez, in the course of trying to get us to appreciate The Canterbury Tales, had us all invent a pilgrim and then the story he or she was supposed to tell, all in verse. She didn’t ask for much, in hindsight, but I took to it and delivered a massive stack of computer printout.
I honestly don’t know what keeps me going. I didn’t think I’d ever be a novelist. My first attempt was… disastrous, I guess is the right word. But one day, the opportunity came along to finish Survivors, and doing it gave me the confidence for the next project.
What is the first book you read that made you fall in love with literature?
I’ve always loved books. My dad tells me of how I learned out to read out of The Hobbit. The first book I remember which completely turned my world upside-down was John Gardner’s Grendel, though.
What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? What is the most rewarding part?
Shutting it off is the hardest part. You know, there are times when I just want to sit on my couch and enjoy my four-year-old, or this bowl of popcorn, or whatever, and not think about how the fall of the Sumerians could fit into the mythology of what I’m working on.
And the most rewarding, so far, has been at home. I’ve gotten some fan mail which has really warmed my gooey bits, and some reviews have made me feel pretty good, but the other day, my daughter was in the office with me, looking at my Published Shit shelf. She asked my why these books were set apart, and when I told her it was because those were the books Daddy was in, or had written, she looked back and then came and gave me a high-five. “Good job, Daddy,” she said. This fatherhood thing has really taken over. Heh.
I’d also like to say, it feels good when I’m able to help someone out. A good example of the kind of author I want to grow up to be is Jonathan Maberry. That is one busy cat, and he’s successful, but he’s always got time, somehow, to be the most helpful and humble talent I’ve talked to.
So, when I find myself in a position to help another unknown author (because, let’s face it, I’m still unknown, too) I do it, and I do it gladly.
What is your most recent work? What can audiences expect from this book or series?
The next thing from Permuted will be World of Trouble, which is a lot of things. It’s a Donald Westlake-flavored adventure, bad guy on bad guy violence in a world where the zombie apocalypse has come and gone, changing the face of the world as we know it.
Civilization has returned, but nothing is the same. Technology has marched on, for better or for worse, and the lines on the map have warped around the large Black Zones, where there remains an infestation of ambulatory dead.
The novel has a little bit of everything: killer reality TV, pirate-themed street gangs in Houston, (in the Independent Nation of Texas) conspiracies and corporate espionage. And in the middle of everything, a man who seems to be tailor-made for the world of trouble in which he finds himself.
What do you think are the most common misconceptions about writers?
The one I hear the most is that the person speaking could never do it. I believe everybody has a book in them. I’m not saying it’s a good book, and maybe you should stop at the one, but come on.
The other is the flip-side of that coin, that it’s easy. But that’s us as humans, right? We’re either “I can’t do that,” or we’re “I could have done that better.”
Why did you decide to join Permuted Press?
Actually… I was just in the right place at the right time. From the very beginning, when I got tapped to finish up the Cthulhu Unbound books, to being included in the Morningstar and Dogs projects, I’ve just been the right writer at the moment.
I know there are people who pooh-pooh the idea that luck is a factor, but for me it has very much been. I’ve also been helped by my peers, more than I can adequately express, which is another reason I’m so glad to help when I can. Pay it back, pay it forward.
What are your dreams for the future as a writer?
My great literary ambition remains to write a novel of a grown-up Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I see it as after the Civil War, probably out in California during the Wild West years. I even have nascent ideas about what they’d be doing, but I’m not writer enough to tackle that just yet. Maybe in another five or six years.
Is there anything else that you would like for people to know about yourself and your work?
About me? Nah. I’ve never been one to portray myself as anything other than who and what I am, so if you see me acting a fool on the Internet or a convention, that’s just me being me. You want to know something? Hey. Come ask me.
About my work… I just want to say, I don’t have any underlying motives or themes or allegories or whatever. My peers are very literary, but I’m sad to say that I am not. If you find a theme in my work, or parallels to something in the real world, believe me when I say they’re not there on purpose. Perhaps my subconscious is some kind of whiz kid, putting that stuff in there, but I never see it until someone else points it out.
(So hey, if you see it, let me know about it. That way I can sound smart when someone else sees it and I have something to say instead of, “Really? I didn’t know.”)
Do you have any events coming up such as conventions or book signings?
Not that I know of. Like I said, I work offshore, so I already spend a lot of time away from home. I do have a giveaway coming from Permuted at some time or another. I don’t know. Hah, that’s probably one of the many reasons I’m still an unknown, innit? HAH.
Where can people find more information about you?
Find and follow me on Facebook or Twitter, where you can see the creaky inner workings of my mind at work and play.