Interview with Fantasy Author Brent Weeks!
I'm not really one to get all gushy over a celebrity unless it's Nathan Fillion, but as some of you know, I have a bit of a fangirl crush on Brent Weeks. So, when I saw him back in September at a book signing and asked if he'd do an interview for my blog, you can only imagine my giddiness when he said sure.
Here's the thing about Brent… when you meet him, he's this totally cool, relaxed guy. When you read his books, you think, ‘Dear God! Where does this come from?'. I don't know about you, but I kind of like that dichotomy in a person. His stories are complex, his characters compelling, and his writing is damn good.
I've met him twice and basically stalked him a few times at Comic-Con (little did he know then we'd be BFFs within a few years. I'm still not sure he knows this, but there's always hope). Each time I've seen him, he's been a total gentleman and more than willing to answer questions from writers and fans alike.
Like I said, super cool.
So, obviously I adore Brent, but I wanted to know who Brent got a little fanboy over and this was his reply:
Brent: I think this may be the one area in which I’m not very self-aware. I remember when I was in college and I had the chance to meet Tom Clancy. Now this was at the height of his career, and I really liked his books, but I didn’t think he was The Second Coming or anything. So I went up to talk to him and was suddenly barely able to speak. I like to think I didn’t squeak or anything, and I did ask my question, but the weight of fame kind of hit me in the face. And it really surprised me. I knew rationally that this is just a guy, but fame doesn’t really affect you on a rational level.
About a year ago now, I was able to meet George R.R. Martin, and that was really special, and at first I didn’t have anything intelligent to say to him. Luckily, I got a couple of extra chances over the course of a Con weekend, and I hope I redeemed myself. As for others, I’m sure that I would be blown away to meet all sorts of people. I’m just not aware enough of my own awe levels to correctly peg whom!
George R. R. Martin brings out the fanboy/girl in all of us. That beard! Those books! Glad to know I'm not alone in my geekiness. What's the geekiest thing about you?
Brent: Have you seen the geek hierarchy? Not only do I fit in the coveted place at the top, but I also fit in numerous other places on that list! And no, I’m not telling.
Um, I'm not telling where I'm at either. If you've never seen this, check out the geek hierarchy here. It's kind of awesome.
So, what are you reading right now?
Brent: Just today, I started the newest book on writing by my amazing agent, Don Maass. It’s called Writing 21st Century Fiction, and so far it’s great. I was just on vacation and I got to catch up on a little bit of my reading, and I recently discovered Stina Leicht, author of Of Blood and Honey, which I highly recommend. I also read some Chuck Wendig, Joe Abercrombie, and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.
Eclectic taste! Chuck Wendig is hilarious. His blog is a must-read. And Donald Maass. Ah, the holy grail of agents. Give me a moment while I dream of calling Mr. Maass, ‘Don'.
Okay, I'm back. So, you told me once that you came into the writing business kind of backward. What was up with that?
Brent: I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek when I said that. Most authors have a huge list of jobs they did while they were trying to get published — and then, quite often, jobs they did while they were trying to start making a living at writing. In contrast, I came to writing fairly directly: I started pretty seriously during college, then after college I took a job as a bartender and wrote days and worked nights. Then I got a job as a teacher and wrote not at all. And then I got married, and my wife supported me. And I was able to write full-time without having a day job at all. I also had no income, so that was the non-romantic part of the whole thing. But as you can see, not a long list. After 5 years and almost 3 books, I finally got The Call.
Your wife is awesome. I love how she helps out at the signings on your book tours. Everyone needs that kind of support.
Alright, let's talk about your writing for a moment. I am always fascinated with where a writer writes. What's your ideal writing space?
Brent: I’ve recently switched over to a treadmill desk, so I can walk as I write. Honestly, the whole sedentary job 6 days a week thing is really awesome, but it also makes you fat. I also find that the movement itself, walking for 4-6 hours a day, helps me focus a little better. I’m too distractible to really write in public spaces. If I’m at a coffee shop, I’ll be distracted by the girls talking about what a-holes their boyfriends are at the next table, or by the really quirky bum outside.
Okay, stop it! A treadmill desk? That's freaking awesome. I'd like two, please. As for those girls in the coffee shop, I'm the same way. I love to eavesdrop. It's a really bad habit of mine, but I've no intention of breaking it any time soon.
Considering you share this propensity of eavesdropping with me, do you also like to write to music, or do you prefer silence?
Brent: I like to write while listening to music. I usually listen to something fairly upbeat, which helps me keep energy as I’m writing. But honestly, it works best when I’ve listened to it enough that I still like it, but I can hear it without paying attention to it. It’s sort of a trancelike thing, where it blots out the rest of the world without taking any of my attention.
I totally get that. If the song it too new, I start singing along to it, which is bad for so many reasons. Speaking of bad, what character makes your skin crawl?
Brent: In The Blinding Knife, I introduced a character named Murder Sharp. And I am getting to spend some more time with him in Book 3 of Lightbringer. He is delightfully sqwicky. Every time I write him, he creeps me out. He has a fixation on teeth.
Yeah, he gives me the heebie jeebies, too. I have to hide under the covers when I read a scene with him in it. Seriously. Enough freaking me out! On to some fun questions.
What's a unique hobby you have?
Brent: About six months ago, for my birthday, my wife got me a class in beer making. It’s been a lot of fun. See also the above 1) need for exercise, 2) fat, 3) treadmill desk.
I’ve decided I need to concentrate on making Porters and things that take 6 months before you have the beer ready to drink.
Mmmmm, microbrews. I might have to take a road trip to your place for some beer sampling (see BFF status above).
Okay, this post is getting long. Let's do some fun, rapid fire questions.
Who would you want on your team to survive the zombie apocalypse?
Brent: Lots of slow people. And hot cheerleaders. Hot cheerleaders never make it through.
Love it! Cowboy hat, baseball cap, or tiara?
Brent: My glorious crown of auburn keratin is all I need to adorn my glorious melon.
Riiiight. Wine, beer, or vodka? But I think we already know the answer to this.
Brent: Most days, a microbrew. The Northwest has an amazing brewery scene, and there’s always something new to try. I thrive on novelty, so I love that.
Called it! If you could be a super hero, what power would you possess?
Brent: Exploding boogers.
Eww! But hey, those might be good on a zombie apocalypse team. What do you think readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Brent: Exploding boogers.
Are you intentionally trying to ruin my fangirl crush? Seriously. What's your favorite curse word?
Brent: Holy exploding boogers, Batman!!
Why doesn't that surprise me? Finally, what's your opinion of garden gnomes?
Brent: Anyone who’s ballsy enough to have a silent “g” gets my vote.
Brent Weeks was born and raised in Montana. After getting his paper keys from Hillsdale College, Brent had brief stints walking the earth like Caine from Kung Fu, tending bar, and corrupting the youth. (Not at the same time.) He started writing on bar napkins, then on lesson plans, then full time. Eventually someone paid him for it. Brent lives in Oregon with his wife, Kristi. He doesn't own cats or wear a ponytail.
Do you have a favorite author you get a little fanboy/girl over? What about a celebrity? Have you met them? Did you keep it together like Brent, or become a complete spaz, like me?