Monday’s Friend: Bryan Fields

I have several MuseItUp authors lined up as guests for 2014.  I am pleased to introduce the first as today’s Monday’s Friend – Bryan Fields.  Welcome, Bryan!

SJT:  When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

BF:  I think the first sign was a great roar in the depths, a mighty shaking of things, and the earth became as water…  no, wait, that was just the underground blast Mom got to watch at the atomic testing range in Nevada.

The first proper stories I wrote were in elementary school, so that would be the earliest point where I thought of being a writer.  It wasn’t until I started running D&D in high school that I learned there were rules and structure and technique to telling stories, and that I needed to practice them in order to become good at it.

This I did.

bryan fieldsSJT:  Who would you cite as your influences?

BF:  Richard Bach, Charles DeLint, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Neil Gaiman, Andre Norton, Zenna Henderson, H. Rider Haggard, Scheherazade… I think that covers the major literary ones.

I was also heavily influenced by a number of movies from the ‘60s and ‘70s.  “The Hallelujah Trail”, “Death Race 2000”, “Kelly’s Heroes”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” – movies that went beyond jokes in the dialog and into the area of comedic storytelling.

The opening song to “Forum”, ‘Comedy Tonight’, is a guideline I try to keep in mind:

‘Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns
Old situations, new complications
Nothing portentous or polite
Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight’

SJT:  What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

BF:  I’m going to steal one from Neil Gaiman:  “Whenever you’re not sure what to do, pretend you are someone who knows what they’re doing, and do what they would do.”

SJT:  Tell us about your new release.

BF:  LIFE WITH A FIRE-BREATHING GIRLFRIEND is a modern fantasy about a database administrator, David, and his girlfriend Rose, who is a Dragoness from a high-fantasy world.  She is spending three years on Earth, in Human form, soaking up all the love, wonder, and joy David can generate.  She needs that energy to make her children stronger and better able to survive to adulthood.  The spell which transfers that energy keeps them mentally, physically, and emotionally balanced.  They can’t fight.  Their moods, needs, and desires are all perfectly matched.  They know where each other is and how the other feels at all times.  The spell is even designed to prevent them from going crazy from living like that.

The part David didn’t count on is really what happens to him.  Up until now, he’s only pretended to be a Hero in games.  When he bonds with Rose, he becomes an actual Hero.  He missed that part of the fine print.  Of course, when you have a Hero enjoying a perfect, peaceful life, some shmuck has to come along and try to ruin it.  That’s in the fine print, too.

For David, it starts when someone murders a childhood friend of his.  The also get into a fight with their homeowners’ association, which is just rife with bad decisions all around.  Some of those bad decisions get totally out of hand, leaving David and Rose scrambling to stop a genocidal unicorn from giving Earth an extreme makeover.

SJT:  I know you’re a fellow table-top gamer.  Tell us about your best-ever character.

BF:  The character I loved playing most was in a play-by-email game.  It was a post-apocalyptic setting running on D&D 3.5 rules.  My character was Targh, an Australian cattle dog.  He levelled as a barbarian, with teeth as his only weapon.  In-game, I had to communicate by whining, scratching, barking, and occasionally grabbing someone’s sleeve and dragging them.  It was very ‘Lassie’ and ‘Rin-Tin-Tin’ where the other players were concerned.

I also ignored commands from everyone but my wife Noelle’s character, Max.  Max was Targh’s human and everyone else was one bad day from being a pile of fresh kibble and chew bones for me.

“Life am good” was Targh’s motto.  Most of my moves were about playing with kids, stalking people with food and trying to trip them, scoring free range kibble, and chasing things Max would throw.  He was a great character from a role play perspective and an absolute maniac in combat.

Yes, one of my inspirations with him was Dogmeat, from the Fallout 1 & 2 games.  Woof, baby.

SJT:  Do you have specific rituals or routines for writing?

BF:  Does making coffee and taking anti-ADHD medication count as a ritual, or would I need to add candles and chanting?

I do my best to get distractions like Facebook out of the way early, and save tasks like washing dishes or doing laundry for points when I get stuck on something.  I prefer to have music or a movie playing (it makes my ADHD happy) while I’m writing.  Too much quiet and my brain starts looking for ways to amuse itself-none of them productive.

Other kinds of preparedness: I like to have a mental storyboard of events and scenes when I start a chapter.  It helps pacing and keeps me from getting lost in dialog and exposition.

I use Scrivener to stay organized and keep track of where I am in the plot.  Great tool, worth the money.

For getting unstuck, I have a box of Storymatic cards and a steampunk tarot deck.  I don’t actually do readings with the tarot deck; I draw a card and try to apply some aspect of the symbolism to the story issue I’m having.  The Storymatic is more direct, and occasionally has some though-provoking responses.

SJT:  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

BF:  Read, watch bad movies (I have a collection), watch a small selection of specific TV shows.  I have to stop working during Bronco games and Doctor Who, of course.  The whole family has WoW accounts, though my preferred game is Fallen Earth.  My favourite game franchise is Fallout, and I’m still hopeful that one day we’ll see an online version.

I enjoy cooking, especially outdoors.  I have a propane grill and a Char-Griller offset smoker.  Sitting out on the deck with a cold limeade and a good book while a few pounds of charcoal and hickory work their alchemy on a mess of pork ribs – that’s pretty much an ideal afternoon.  Life am good.

AUTHOR BIO – BRYAN FIELDS

By day, I’m a mild-mannered IT tech; by night, a writer who spends too much time in online games.  I grew up reading classical authors such as Verne, Burroughs, Wells, Haggard, and Lovecraft, often in conjunction with large doses of Monty Python, Wild Wild West, and Hee-Haw.  My current influences include Doctor Who, Girl Genius, and An Idiot Abroad.

I began writing professionally as a member of the content design team for the MMORPG Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted.  My first published short stories appeared in the anthologies The Mystical Cat and Gears and Levers III in 2012.

I live in Denver with my wife Noelle and daughter Alissa.  The three of us can often be found prowling around Istaria, Wizard City, and the wilds of Azeroth.  I also make occasional side jaunts to scavenge bits of ancient technology in the radioactive ruins of the Grand Canyon Province.

Learn more about me by following my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BryanFieldsAuthor or my Blog: http://laughingotterslair.blogspot.com/

life-with-fire-brething-g-medium Excerpt from LIFE WITH A FIRE-BREATHING GIRLFRIEND:

Our street borders on a large lake with a golf course on the far side of it.  The lake isn’t big enough for power boats, but it has a nice play area and a paddle-boat rental.  Ducks and geese are common, as are groups of children.  One of our neighbors, Mary, does daycare in her home.  She lives across the street from the playground and was happy to run into us when she brought the kids over to feed the ducks.

Nine kids hurling chunks of stale hot dog bun can attract a lot of ducks.  It was only a matter of time before one of the kids pulled out a cell phone and started making a video of the feeding frenzy.  As soon as the film was running, Rose introduced the little blue hatchie we called Azul.

A sky-blue snout popped out of the water, blew spray everywhere, and snapped up a piece of bread before going back under.  A quick flash of blue scales and a stubby tail tip cutting through the water away from shore caused an immediate hush, followed by a cascade of questions.  I reassured the kids that crocodiles aren’t blue, but Mary didn’t want to take any chances.  She started pulling the kids back from the water—exactly what we didn’t want.

Rose concentrated, and Azul emerged onto a patch of matted cattails and shook herself off.  She looked at the kids, cocked her head to the side, and made a warbling noise intended to make her sound cute (and therefore harmless).  She had cream-colored chest scales, matching back fins, puppy dog-brown eyes, and an iridescent sheen to her wing membranes.  Our baby Dragon looked about as threatening as a blueberry muffin.

I pointed. “See, kids?  I told you that wasn’t a crocodile.”  Azul reinforced the point by kneading the ground with her fore claws and going onto a very feline stretch—claws spread, chest on the ground and backside in the air, wings flared out and up.

The adults in the park were staring and taking pictures, just as we wanted them to.  By the time Azul finished her yawn and plopped down on the matted cattails, half a dozen pictures were posted to social media.  One person even had the good manners to email a few pictures directly to one of the local television stations.  The adults were critical to our plan’s success, but Rose really wanted the children to be drawn in.

The kids were kind of clustered together, not sure what to do, when one boy stepped to the water’s edge.  His superhero t-shirt and boy wizard eyeglasses told me all I needed to know about the years of teasing and harassment he’d endured already, and how many more he was undoubtedly facing.  None of that mattered right now.  He sat at the water’s edge. “I knew it.” he shouted, “I knew you were real!  I knew it!”

Mary started to reach for him, but I touched her arm and shook my head.  The boy looked over his shoulder at a bigger, beefy-looking kid.  “I told you so.  That’s a dragon, and it’s real!”

I had to look away for a moment.  Merciful Creator, please make his parents as proud of him as I am.

Azul stood up, shuffled forward a few steps, and ducked down behind a patch of cattail leaves.  She peeked around the edge, then held up one foreclaw and waved at the kids.  “Heh…  Heh… Hello,” she said.  I tried not to laugh; Rose was making her voice sound like a certain blue-furred space alien who has his own TV show and an army of trigger-happy lawyers.  Azul waved again, and all the kids waved back this time.  Even a few of the adults joined in.

Two police cars pulled up, one parking so that its dashboard camera was aimed at the lake.  Rose had Azul step out so everyone got a clear view of her.  The boy wizard stood up and cupped his hands around his mouth.  “What’s your name?  What do you want us to call you?”

Azul pointed to herself. “AHHH-zhul.  Aaa-zul!  Azhul!”

One of the cops shook his head.  “Did that thing say, ‘Zuul’?”

“No, no,” I said “I think it said ‘Azul’, the Spanish word for ‘blue’.”

“Spanish, huh?”  He shook his head.  “Someone else can ask that thing for its green card.  I’m not getting near it.”  He went back to his car and started calling for animal control to come out.

Next to me, Rose shook her head.  She wouldn’t be able to maintain the illusion much longer.  I patted her hand and twirled my finger in a ‘wrap it up’ gesture.  She took a deep breath.  Azul reared back, pointed her snout up in the air, and exhaled a twenty-foot jet of flame before slipping into the lake.  With a last splash and flick of her tail, Azul vanished.  The kids cheered and jumped around all over the place, the adults replayed the footage on their cell phones, and Rose all but collapsed in my arms.

LIFE WITH A FIRE-BREATHING GIRLFRIEND is available now from the MuseItUp store and Amazon.

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3 comments so far

  1. Cheryl B. Dale on

    Nice interview! Sounds like a fun book!

  2. Susan Bernhardt on

    Congratulations and best wishes on your release, Bryan. Sounds like an action filled book.

    Curl up with a killer – Cozy Mysteries
    The Ginseng Conspiracy by Susan Bernhardt
    http://www.susanbernhardt.com

  3. Bryan Fields on

    Thank you, and good luck with your own book birthday, Susan!


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