What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special? I’ve always loved watching thoroughbreds race and being from Ohio, I lived close to central Kentucky which is home to several thoroughbred farms and tracks. It was a close jaunt down to the horse farms.
When did you decide to be a writer/journalist? If you mean, did I select writing as a career . . . my answer is – oh heck, no! My love of science drove my career goals towards medicine. Unfortunately, I went to observe my brother-in-law while he was in medical school. It was then that I decided my personality wasn’t suited for the possibility of making a wrong diagnosis resulting in a patient’s bad outcome. I gravitated to dentistry and the dental profession. Dentistry was and still is my primary love.
Did you incorporate any aspects of your profession into your novel ‘Towers Above’? I most certainly did, but folks just have to purchase my novel to enjoy those portions of the book. Dentistry has and routinely is made fun of in theatrical productions when, in fact, it is a profession where the success of the doctor/patient relationship can directly affect one’s oral health for a lifetime. A good doctor/patient rapport is the key to any health professional’s success in society.
So, if dentistry is your current job, then how did writing a novel enter the picture? Two words . . . sibling rivalry! My older sister was Editor of her high school newspaper. I wasn’t much of an athlete – marginal at best. So I decided just like the song goes . . . “Anything you can do I can do better.” I became Editor of my high school paper for not just one year but for two years. Writing the ‘Editorials’ was probably the most exhausting but rewarding enterprise I’ve ever done, up to that point in my life. After that, I’ve always enjoyed putting pen to paper.
Most books have a primary message that’s being hammered home. Your message is? #SAFEVENUESNOW Terrorism in the 21st century is a reality. It is not going away. Any venue that attracts folks to a centralized spot or area should require those individuals that operate and manage the venue to take a hard look at how they intend to protect their patrons. People often ask about what they are entitled to in life. Well, terrorism hasn’t just suddenly appeared. It has been going on for years BUT 9/11 brought its’ reality to the forefront. I believe ANY VENUE has to be evaluated as to what type of risk it poses for its’ patrons and then the owners of the venue must act to protect those folks to the best of their ability!
How much of your life experiences did you incorporate in TOWERS ABOVE? Everything! The entire book spins off of all my life’s experiences. The racetrack experiences are a direct result of working, part time, at a thoroughbred track for five years. A lot of the ‘Science’ in the book is a result of my educational experiences.
So, if you didn’t know something or experience it yourself, did you consult with other authorities? As far as the thoroughbred experiences, I was always asking questions of individuals whose jobs depend on horses. And if I wasn’t satisfied then I’d head for the computer and multiple search engines. If someone aspires to be a writer, half of their work is research. I also was lucky enough to have a “source” that I could tap into concerning America’s intelligence services as well as certain aspects of the military.
How realistic is your novel TOWERS ABOVE? Even though my book is fiction, most of what I write about has been a real life experience of mine or some other person’s documented experience(s). There is no way you can convince me that amongst all the Saudis that were in America on 9-11-2001 . . . not one individual – of all those folks – didn’t know what was going down on that beautiful sunny morning.
So, you worked at a racetrack for five years. Is it safe to assume it took that long to write your novel? The actual composition took less than three years. I didn’t settle on the main theme or premise for over a year. Shopping the book with publishing houses took over a half year. I also had a wonderful editor that polished the rough edges of my story and made the novel so much more enjoyable to read. The editing process took almost four months.
Have you ever made a fake (name) account to interact with readers? Buck Brannon is my pen name. My legal name is hard to pronounce and even more difficult to spell. Throughout my life several friends would call me ‘Bucky’. I shortened that nickname to BUCK. The last name, BRANDON, is borrowed from a shopping center close to my residence.
Are you retired from the dental profession and, if not, does it interfere with your writing? I still maintain dental licenses in two states. I practice one day a week and occasionally fill in for other dentists when they need a substitute. Dentists are required to take continuing education to remain current in their professional work. TOWERS ABOVE and the sequel that I’m currently writing in no way interfere with my creativity. Writing for me is extremely pleasurable. I’m a perfectionist and each chapter is its’ own entity. It’s almost as if I have ‘X’ number of mini novels (chapters) that eventually get cobbled together to form a BOOK.
How important is a good cover and title? The cover of a book is an attention grabber. One always wants a book’s cover to turn a potential buyer’s head. That means the artwork and lettering graphics are the initial entree to a customer. A relative of mine had already incorporated my ‘Cover Artwork’ for another author’s short story. He re-worked the art . . introducing rolling hills and horse fencing and it was my idea to have him place the reflection of the ‘Twin Towers’ onto the horse’s eye. As I stated earlier, 9/11 had a huge emotional impact on me. The title was a no-brainer – the name of my horse was always going to be TOWERS ABOVE.
Does a bad review affect my writing? Since this is my first published work, my answer to that question is difficult. The reviews I’ve received on Amazon have all been excellent – except one. Even though the review wasn’t ‘five stars’, it was still complimentary. Look, some individuals don’t ever believe anyone deserves a perfect review or score in anything one does in life. However, I do know the reviews I’ve received are not fake and are from readers that genuinely were entertained by my novel.
Which book inspired you to begin writing? I’m going to flip your question a bit. It wasn’t a book but there was a professor that inspired me. Three decades ago I had three shoulder surgeries and ultimately was told that I need a shoulder replacement. That meant my career in dentistry would be finished. I began taking journalism courses at Northern Kentucky University. One professor, that I call my ‘Angel’, honed my writing skills during that semester. Mind you, these were night school classes and her day job as ‘Editor of Cincinnati Magazine.’ At the end of the semester she informed me that the profile article that I had researched and written was going to be published in Cincinnati Magazine. I received a check and had become a professional writer. I never looked back A novel was my next goal.
Is it your belief that anyone can be a writer? I think everyone has the potential to be a writer. The simplest sentence contains a noun and a verb. When you throw in adjectives and adverbs, as a writer, you’re adding your imagination. The reader then decides if he/she appreciates the author’s thoughts. Writing is forever. If it’s a diary or journal, it has the potential of being handed down from one generation to another. I doubt Anne Frank intended for her powerful diary to be a best selling journal, but it’s the perfect example of the power of the written word.
How did it feel when TOWERS ABOVE was published? I was proud of myself. I set a goal and even though the entire process took five years from start to finish, I was elated to finally have it out in public. I chose to also have the book copyrighted and registered with the Library of Congress. TOWERS ABOVE is my legacy, in my mind, to society. I’ve read somewhere that the average ‘book’ sells 2,000 copies. I think I gleaned that information from “Uncle John’s Bathroom Calendar.” I haven’t reached that milestone yet, but I do have my first paycheck from Amazon framed.
Do you pen down revelations as you get them – on the spot? What a great question! Most of the time I do. I’m going out on a limb when I write the following … A writer’s most creative thoughts occur just as one is waking in the morning. Also, they can occur in those moments of deepest REM sleep. I’ve bounced out of bed to write down thoughts in the middle of the night. At daybreak I have to be careful not to fall back asleep or I’ll lose that ‘Eureka’ moment. Also, mobile phones usually have a voice record ‘App’ and if that fails, just pull off the road!
Have you ever written about a character that is based on the ‘real’ you? In Towers Above, Dr. Rob Becker is a general dentist. Well . . . Dr. Becker might as well be me. Rob’s stories in the novel are mostly mine. In fact, the very first chapter of the novel ended up being placed several chapters into the story. When readers get to the ‘Blackjack’ session, that’s all about my experiences at the tables.
Do you have to be in a specific spot or environment to write? Yep! Most of TOWERS ABOVE was written in my sunroom on a recliner couch. I’ve recorded several Beach Boys concerts on the DVR that’s in that room. If my novel ever is adapted to the big screen, I hope ‘Beach Boys’ music will be part of the musical score of the movie. And yes, there are times when writer’s block strikes and all I end up doing is closing my eyes and listening to the music.
So, your sequel to TOWERS ABOVE . . . do the same characters again appear in print? Some characters roles expand and others diminish. It’s another thriller tied to the social environment we currently live in. Horses once again play a major role in the next novel. The venue switches to the western United States. America is a wonderful entity. History always repeats itself. And . . . change is inevitable. Does AMERICA – in order to remain wonderful, have to CHANGE – because HISTORY says it will?