Monday, 7 May 2012

Interview: Brian Harrison

Brian Harrison is author of Primetime; a novel based on true events that deals with becoming a small-town celebrity and all that entails. You can find Brian on Twitter (@Brian_AHarrison,) Facebook or his blog. You can buy his book on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Below is my interview with him.


Me: Tell us a little about yourself.
Brian: I've been working grocery for over ten years now and have worked nearly every position except meat cutter. I have gone through half of my graduate degree in English but
stopped because the cost was to much to be able to logically continue. I am also a new board member for the Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival (http://dogwoodfinearts.org/) so for me getting ready to meet Michael Chabon is going to be a great thrill.

Me: Have you always wanted to write— when did it all start?
Brian: Most people don't know that I originally was going to go into Music Therapy, I am a drummer and percussionist and enjoyed thoroughly composing music and performing, even worked with theater departments and dance departments around my area. But during my classes I needed an English comp course which I was dreading. My instructor told me I needed to take his second semester (which I didn't but I went anyway), and after my first short story he wanted me to lengthen it. It turned out to be my first novella length work and he loved it. Wanted me to write more saying, "The story was such a unique way of including Seinfeld and Freud." I will never forget that, so I kept writing.

After sometime I picked up Jonathan Safran Foers book, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and after reading that I knew I could do that too and I guess the rest is history. That must have been in 2006 or so, so I'm fairly a newbie at "authoring" as my dad says!


Me: Your novel PRIMETIME is inspired by true events and real people. Did you find writing it an emotional experience?
Brian: Actually at times it was. I realized I was writing it to work through the stresses of things that I was experiencing. It was at times quite therapeutic and yet when I had to go back emotionally to those places the distance allowed me to explore more instead of being weighed down my the emotional strain at that time.


Me: Did PRIMETIME turn out how you thought it would?
Brian: Parts! hahaha
I could not include the PDF files that were interspersed throughout more because I just couldn't figure out how to format it for the eBook. BUT with them not included it does not change the book - they just made it more real. And the quality of the cover is as good as we could get it - could be better but the story is the story Sam Gyle needed to tell the world.

Me: For those that aren't familiar, what is your novel about?
Brian: Primetime: A Novel explores the idea of celebrity through the viewpoint of a grocery manager in a small Midwestern town. Sam explores the meaning of celebrity after he is the lone survivor of a rare drive by shooting in little Waukaponeda, Michigan. He describes employees, customers, conversations and his own dealings with survivor’s guilt, to come to an understanding and an acceptance of what celebrity and fame really means, especially in a small town.

In Primetime, Sam’s struggles with customers who scam, threaten, are mentally unstable, drunk, illiterate and simply stinky, as well as employee’s harassment and unprofessional-ism. Primetime also gives an insiders view of aspects of the grocery business that shoppers do not know, realize or appreciate. His dating and love life are explored in new ways with a number of women and Sam comes to terms with two previous relationships all because he survived the shooting. While inspired by true events and actual people, fame is still an incredibly curious thing. It means different things to different people in different places around the world.

Me: Are you planning on releasing anything else before the new year?
Brian: Yes - I am going to try to release some shorter works:

  • A chapter from my novel THE MEMORY OF TOMORROW - which was the first novel to be accepted as a Masters Thesis at Andrews University (where I was studying). It is told through the family Memory Book that each member has written, all the way back to the patriarch Irish Revolutionary General Michael Collins.
  • A Novella THIRD OF A TWIN about a little alien that comes down and can fix all the worlds problems but has a week to be convinced of such, the person that must convince him is a 9 year old boy from an abusive household.
  • Finally a experimental Novelette titled PIECES - which is a story told in the format of a stage play, it reads like a story but it could be performed as well. 

Whether or not I begin publishing my series PROGENY is still up in the air, as I'm still writing it. It's a dark psychological thriller set in a criminal asylum while they are going through group therapy.

Me: Do you have any advice you'd like to share with fellow writers?
Brian: Write the novel you want to read. Don’t feel though you have to write what you know. I knew nothing about Ireland, never been, for example, I did do a lot of research, three years worth for that novel. I discover characters and its about spending time with them enough to discover the story THEY want to tell, its my job to edit what the voices tell me.
Don’t deny what inspires you or interests you because it may be uncomfortable or something you’re not confident in. Because I’m not confident in my writing but I’m passionate about the stories and characters.


Quick-fire questions:

Me: Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Brian: Honestly never read either. Fantasy is not my cup of tea. I like skewing the lines between fact and fiction.
Me: Fast food or a home-cooked meal?
Brian: Definitely home-cooked. I'm not a bad cook, I just have better ideas of receipes than they actually turn out! ha
Me: Summer or winter?
Brian: Summer for sure! I'm a beach-boy!
Me: Fork or Spoon?
Brian: Really you have to ask a writer that? Always go with the knife! ;)

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