Brian Kittrell is an indie author who enjoys writing compelling stories. His website is Late Nite Books. If you’re interested in purchasing one of his books, please stop by his site. And now, folks, let’s get to the interview.
Hi, Brian! Thanks for stopping by. Why don’t you start with a little background on yourself?
I’ve lived in Mississippi for all my life. I had a rough childhood, but I turned out okay. I’ve held all kinds of different jobs before. Right now, I’m happy to do E911 Police and Fire dispatching and writing on the side. Previous jobs have included retailing, clerk, fast food, grocery stores, video stores, pizza joints, jails and detention centers, and insurance sales. I’ve also volunteered as a firefighter for about 6 years (now retired, just too busy with the paying job, wife, and baby), and I think that led me into my current job (and law enforcement in general).
What got you into writing in the first place?
I’ve always wanted to write and publish books. My first long work was the d10 Core Roleplaying Game System, which I’ve taken out of print for now until I can really get it right and get it the way I want it. Since that is a very large task (it’s like writing a 300 or 400 page text book, non-fiction), I decided to write some novels along the way. The Survivor Chronicles are the result of that side project, and I’ve been devoting more and more time to my fiction writing lately. It’s much easier to flow with, and people are generally liking the books from what I’ve seen. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something you really enjoy and making some extra money doing it. And the fans and readers, wow! I love them all.
Tell us about your book.
I decided to make my first series a zombie apocalypse set detailing the experiences of different survivor groups. Later in the series, they meet up and continue the storyline together. I’ve been told that just about anyone can enjoy this style of horror, but the target demographic when I started writing it was young adult and adult. I don’t always plan to write horror, but it is close to my heart. I’ve actually considered writing a paranormal romance series, even though I don’t think this would be my strong area. I welcome the challenges, though.
Can you give us the scoop on any work you might have in progress?
The third book is finished and will be out by May 2011. The fourth book is where the survivors all meet up (the ones who are left from the other books). I haven’t decided if I need a fifth book to finish out the Survivor Chronicles series. I will only know that when I get to the end of Book #4.
What are the top three books that have had the most influence on you as a person and as a writer?
The Giver is one of my all-time favorites. I read that one several times, and I always felt like I was there and could relate to the story. The scenes where the main character is out in the cold wilderness, I could feel the chill in my bones. I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve read several Stephen King books, and I prefer his earlier work to the newer stuff, but he’s a very gifted (and prolific!) author. I also very much enjoy anthologies and collections of short horror stories. I read more of those when I was younger, but they still stay with me even today.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Well, hopefully my self-publishing book will come out sometime this year if I can ever get around to writing it. I’m starting to believe JA Konrath is right: he says that self-promotion and marketing are very rare to pay off in the long run. My best advice is to write a good book and get people to check it out. Try to garner some honest reviews. If you’re just getting started (and I’m no expert yet myself by any means!), be ready for the negative reviews. Very few people can pump out a bestseller that everyone loves on the first try. If you do, I congratulate you, but the first-time bestsellers only represent a very, very small group of authors. Everyone else has to hone their craft. Finally, some people told me not to publish my first novel because it would probably be my worst book. While this is probably true, it still sells. People are still enjoying it. It’s made about 1200 sales so far with no signs of slowing up yet. I turned it into a “loss leader” (priced at $0.99 to let people try it out on the cheap), and I think that is working well.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration to write in general comes from my wife and daughter. I write to make extra money to provide a better life for us and to ease our daily lives financially. Beyond that, I am inspired in my writing by all sorts of stuff. Other books, television, movies, and video games come to mind readily. If you are inspired by someone else’s work, use those ideas to make something unique for yourself. I try not to read other books similar to the ones I’m writing presently so I don’t get too influenced, though.
Do you have a favorite meal? My apologies for asking such a question, but writers do eat, don’t they? I certainly do.
I love food, too. Probably too much. If I am settling in for a real, filling meal, I like nothing more than a perfectly-cooked ribeye, medium, with a side of sauteed asparagus and potatoes. If I’m in one of my common fish moods, there is no substitute for Rainbow Trout from my local Bonefish Grill. If I just need a snack to get by, I can be found munching on cheese and summer sausage, with or without crackers depending on my sensibilities at the time.
Do you have any talents, hobbies, skills, etc., that we should know about?
I dabble in computer programming, also. I have written some software to help authors get their eBooks ready for Kindle on the cheap and on the fast. Basically, the software takes the body of your book in .txt format, formats it for Kindle, and lets you download it, all for $0.25. (25 cents US) I wanted a tool that would do this for me automatically, so I said to myself, “What the hay, I’ll throw it on the internet if anyone else wants to use it, and they can drop me a quarter to help pay for the server.” The tool is called KindleProcessor.com, and I’m putting on the finishing touches to make it live.
I’ve always been into computers and technology, so programming is an easy way to get my lusty code out and play. I think it’s important for writers to understand technology, especially in this day and age. It’s also becoming ever more important for authors to understand the ins and outs of publishing in all stages, from concept to printed publication.
What would you like to be known for after you’ve departed Earth?
The most important thing is that my daughter (and future children, of course) know that I love them very, very much, wherever I am. I can only hope that they would remember me as a good dad who cared about them and protected them. Second to that, I’d like to be on Wikipedia someday. It’s more accessible than a tombstone, and usually has more information about you.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
I always set out to make a little extra income and please the fans and readers. I don’t put much social commentary or my own political views in the story. If I do, I cloak them as best as I can and let the reader draw their own conclusions. You write for your reader, and you write a book that you would like to read and that others would probably enjoy. Don’t write a book that you want to write, write a book that you want to read.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I always love doing interviews, talking to readers, fans, and other authors. If anyone wants to interview me or just talk about stuff, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’m always available. If I don’t write back the same day, it will probably be the next. Sometimes things get caught in the spam folder, but I do go back and manually check it regularly. Thanks so much, Chris!
Thanks, Brian, for taking the time to chat. Best of luck with your career!