Brian Parker - Drop and Give Me 20! 20 Hard Questions for Hard Writers
I’d like to introduce Brian Parker, writer and publisher at Muddy Boots Press. Brian and I met when I was under a different publishing house. Fellow active duty military, we bonded online (I was enlisted...so clearly I was better heh heh). But Brian also gave me my first book review!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Brian Parker...
I’m an Active Duty soldier and multi-genre author who is both self- and traditionally-published. I’ve written sci-fi noir/cyberpunk, zombie books, post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, paranormal and military fiction and even a children's picture book.
1. Are you “An Author” -or- “A Writer”? What’s the difference?
I go back and forth on this one. I guess the “traditional” answer would be that I’m an author since I have been published, but I like the old-school feel of the title writer. I write things, always have, and didn’t set out to be an author until just a few years ago.
2. What is your biggest failure?
Geez, is this a bad job interview!? Hmm, let’s see. I guess I’m supposed to say something like the time I was a project lead and delegated authority to others but ended up taking it on myself, right?
Actually, that’s why I’ve chosen consistently to self-publish. Don’t get me wrong, I love the exposure (and the paycheck!) that I get for the four books that I have published through Permuted Press, but I’m a control freak when it comes to my work—and you lose a lot of that control with a traditional publisher. Everything depends on me as a self-published author: writing/content, contracting the editing and artwork, formatting, and marketing and promotion. If my book does well—or fails—the only person to blame is myself.
So, yeah, I suck at delegating authority.
3. What is the worse lie you ever told?
4. Do you Google yourself?
Daily, I’m getting hairy palms and carpal tunnel syndrome from it…
To be honest, I don’t Google myself, maybe I should. I did find one of my blog posts as the number 1 hit on Google once when I was researching something for a book, which was interesting that the Googlebots thought I would want to listen to myself when I was looking for an expert on a subject.
5. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Hands down the whole vanity press bullshit. Those people are predators—and, in a roundabout way, one of the reasons I started Muddy Boots Press.
When I wrote my first book, I didn’t know dick about the industry, so I did what just about anyone would do: I Googled “how to publish a book.” Well, hell, tons of vanity presses came up immediately. Not knowing the path to failure, I sent my book info to one of them and was floored when they wanted to “publish” my book! For $8,400… I may not have known what I was doing, but I knew that you don’t pay people to publish your book, so I did more research and discovered how to self-publish.
Why I say that the vanity publishers are sort of how MBP got started is because we are a teeny, tiny micro-press. As such, we can’t (really, we won’t) take on a bunch of authors and publish whatever comes to our inbox. BUT, on our website, we have tons of resources for writers, including instructions on how to self-publish and information about how to write strong blurbs, marketing suggestions, etc.
6. What is your writing Kryptonite?
I have a problem getting distracted by Facebook. When I have an entire day to myself (it’s happened once or twice), I don’t have any social media sites open and just write. However, most of the time, I’m sandwiching writing into stolen moments of time from the day and those times are also when I have available to check social media. Usually, the writing wins, but sometimes, especially late at night, it’s so easy to just scroll through content instead of type…
7. What popular movie/book/music which others adore, do you secretly despise?
I like these questions! I hate romance/erotica novels. I know that they outsell the next genre by more than double, but I just hate it. Seriously, use this little graphic that I stole from somewhere to see just how much money is in romance:
Based on that information, I’m dumb for writing in the genres I write in. Maybe I should assume the nom de plume of Regina Phalanges and write erotica. What? That name is already taken? Dammit.
8. What is the worst criticism you ever received? How did it make you feel?
I had one of those douche holier-than-thou types who thought because he had an MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) that he knew everything about literature, how it should flow, what sells and all that. He tried calling me out about the way my stories don’t have big, flowery words and don’t follow traditional literature models, and the whole “Show, don’t Tell” argument (which has been proven over and over as a guideline, not a rule). It was just a whole lot of stuff that they learned in school, but he’d never written a book or even a short story. Thankfully, my fans defended my work and I didn’t even need to say anything to feed the troll.
The only thing it made me feel was disgust. The guy had the typical “those who can’t do, teach” attitude. I’ve lived my life by showing up, putting in the work and earning my way, from sports, to the Army, to writing. To quote Tallahassee, “Nut up or shut up.”
9. If you were to die tomorrow, which book of yours would you want people to remember you by?
Battle Damage Assessment. I say that because it’s an inside glimpse into a soldier’s life, written as a composite of events that have happened to me or to close friends and subordinates. It doesn’t sell for shit because it’s not some type of space alien Rambo fight jerk-off your buddy book, but it’s a real representation of honest, gritty war in Afghanistan. Boredom, excitement, what the fuck, terror, laughter…those are the hallmarks of war that are juxtaposed against one another in odd ways and I tried to capture it as best I could.
10. How long/how many rejections did you get before someone gave you your shot?
Here’s where I’m going to sound like a dick to most writers out there. I only submitted my book GNASH to one publisher and was accepted (minus the vanity publisher thing that I didn’t do).
I’d self-published GNASH and had really good sales for a first-time author with no idea what I was doing. Then I sort of peaked on my audience and a friend told me that Permuted Press was open to previously-published novels. I submitted it to them and they wanted it expanded into a series and also wanted to know what else I had. So I ended up signing a 4-book deal with them for GNASH, REND and SEVER, plus Enduring Armageddon, which I was about half-way through writing at that point.
I hear horror stories about writers who submit—and get rejected—by scores, even hundreds of publishers. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
11. What was the last movie/book which made you cry?
Well…to be honest? I can’t remember. I’m one of those bottle up your emotions kind of guys, so I’ll probably have a heart attack in a few years.
12. No bullshit, what is your favorite thing you’ve written?
I go back and forth on this. I used to say Enduring Armageddon, which is a post-apocalyptic novel, but I’m in love with my current sci-fi noir series The Easytown Novels which is an ode to one of my favorite movies: Blade Runner. So far, I’ve written two in that series, The Immorality Clause and Tears of a Clone, with plans to write at least two more.
13. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your writer’s ego?
Probably a 7. I get submissions all the time to Muddy Boots Press that I can’t make it past the synopsis or first 10-15 pages. Writing is not for everyone, and I totally understand the importance of editing and how much that can help a book along, but seriously…writing is not for everyone. I’ll just leave it at that.
14. How comfortable are you with writing sex/sensual scenes?
Very. Of course, until The Immorality Clause, all of my scenes were “off camera” sex. Set in a futuristic neighborhood of New Orleans, the premise behind The Immorality Clause is that a homicide detective is investigating a string of murders inside the district’s sex clubs, so there’s a lot more descriptive text than I normally write. There’s one scene in particular where he’s watching the video feed from a robot’s perspective as she pleasures a customer who is murdered in the room with her. It’s done in a clinical manner, but the description from the video feed gets semi-graphic.
15. Have you ever been in a fight/punched in the face? How did/would you react?
Yeah. Who hasn’t? That’s part of the whole showing up to perform part of my life. Whether it’s backing up what I’ve said, or having a friend’s back, when it’s time to throw and all avenues of de-escalation have been pursued, well, let’s go.
But, I prefer to just hug it out and drink if possible.
16. As a military man, do you have any pet peeves from authors who “get it wrong” when writing about weaponry, combat or military life?
This is the most annoying part of being a reader/movie-goer. I fundamentally don’t understand why people who have no clue what they’re writing about choose to do so. The military is such an odd combination of customs and courtesies, Jerry Springer, Full Metal Jacket and Keystone Cops all rolled into one. People who don’t understand that ridiculous mash-up have no business writing about it. Or, hell, at the very least, get a goddamned Beta reader to tear your shit apart. There’s a #1 bestseller in one of the genres I write in that has a captain saluting a corporal and calling him “sir” throughout the book and the corporal leads the nation’s response team… Are you kidding me?
17. Who/what was your favorite, and least favorite, character to write? Why?
Favorite: Chuck Broussard from Enduring Armageddon. He’s the protagonist of the post-apocalyptic story, but he has no clue what he’s doing. Before the missiles wiped out civilization as we know it, he was a financial advisor with no sort of hunting/survival/camping skills. He has to figure things out as he goes and ends up finding sanctuary in a town with his wife. She was a teacher, so they have a use for her, but they send him out with the supply gathering squads since he’s basically useless. He survives and learns, which are two of humanity’s greatest abilities in my mind.
Least favorite: Probably Reagan Lockhart from The Collective Protocol, my paranormal book. She was originally supposed to be the protagonist, but as the story developed, she became a supporting role and the main “bad guy” in the story became the protagonist. I don’t dislike her character, but I hate the way readers have said I don’t spend enough time with the “hero” of the story. It’s because she ended up not being the main character, her sister Paige Watkins is the lead.
18. What genre of writing have you never written, but want to try?
Steampunk. I love the technical engineering aspects of the genre, usually grounded in old-world attitudes and determination.
19. You wake up and it’s -4 degrees out and the ground is covered in frozen snow. You’re stuck in a strange forest at night, miles and miles from civilization and you hear things in the darkness. You find a clearing near a cave where someone once was. All around the clearing is blood but no bodies. Only footprints leading in, and out, of the clearing. You can have one weapon of choice, three books and a luxury item...what do you do?
Weapon of choice: FN SCAR MK20 SSR (Sniper Support Rifle). It’s got the ability to reach out and touch someone at distance, plus the stopping power/versatility to be used in close quarters for personal protection.
Books: Three copies of War and Peace. It’s got the most pages for fuel.
Luxury item: A lighter. See above.
Use the cave. Even if it was the sight of a murder/animal mauling before, the ability to protect yourself from the elements and have protection on three sides as well as overhead is paramount. If something comes along, that’s what the MK20 is for. In the morning, assess the situation. If it’s feasible to move to a new location, do so.
20. What would you like fans and potential fans to know about you as a person?
That incredibly good-looking, bald guys, with a lot of muscle and an awesome sense of humor are also genuinely nice people who will give you the shirt off their back if you need it—or an ass-whoopin’ if that’s what you deserve.
Thanks, Gibby! It’s been fun. Now, unlike you, I’m still in the military and gotta go to work!
- My pleasure Brian! Thanks! For more info on Brian you can check out the following links: