An interview with writer Eric Brown

Image provided by writer Eric Brown

What form of art or media do you work with?

I’m a freelance writer primarily working in the science fiction field, and I also write books for reluctant readers – books for teenagers in the 14-18 age range, but with a reading age of 6-10. My SF is ‘soft’, that is, not Hard SF concentrating on science and technology, the nuts and bolts of future inventions etc, but the social consequences of scientific and technological change. In the SF field, I’ve written novels of alien invasion, future crime, virtual reality, time-travel and space travel, among others.

Can you describe your studio/work space.

I work in a small outsider office, approximately twelve by eight, surrounded by all my books. I work on a PC. This will soon change as we’re in the process of moving to a bigger house where I’ll have the luxury of an indoor study.

Please give a brief description of your creation process and technique.

Ideas coalesce in a mysterious process which I don’t question or analyse. I find that one idea isn’t enough – an initial idea needs to cross-fertilise with a secondary notion and brew in the subconscious for a while. They reach critical mass and need to be written. I then make brief notes for a short story, more extensive notes for a novel, then sit down and write two shifts a day, each one lasting between two and two and a half hours. I’ll produce one thousand words an hour, an average of four thousand words over the two shifts. I try to get the first draft novel finished in a month, and then work on the second and third drafts over the next couple of months. A short story takes few days to write, and the same to polish.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m halfway through a novel set in a strange alien construct called the Helix – a helical ‘spring’ consisting of ten thousand worlds wound about a sun. A race of aliens known only as the Builders constructed the Helix hundreds of thousands of years ago, and saved races on the edge of extinction, rehousing them on worlds in the Helix. Humanity was one such race saved from itself, and now, two hundred years after their arrival, they find themselves keeping the peace between various alien races. Helix Wars will be published by Solaris in the UK and US in October

How do you know when a work is complete?

Experience has told me when to stop – though really a work is never finished, as I’ve found out recently when putting a short story collection together. The temptation was to rewrite and rewrite – I resisted it.

Do you listen to music when you are working, or the radio, or work in silence?

I must work in as near silence as I can manage.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m working on the outline of a Sherlock Holmes novel for a publish who has expressed an interest in a Holmes idea I had last year, so I’m reading the novel for inspiration.

What is your favourite artwork by another artist?

I’ll interpret ‘artwork’ loosely, and say that my favourite artwork is the twenty-seven book sequence of autobiographies entitled The Sensual World by Rupert Croft-Cooke, a little known and neglected writer of more than a hundred and twenty books, who lived from 1903 to 1979. He wrote novels, crime novels, poetry, non-fiction books on subject as diverse as Victorian literature, food, wine, darts, gypsies, criminals, the circus… But his finest achievement in The Sensual World, detailing his life and times and the people he met during a varied and much-travelled writing life.

Please complete the following sentences in whatever way is meaningful to you:

a) Artists should…… work hard and keep quiet about their work.
b) Art is a……..a personal interpretation of the chaotic state of being alive.
c) The World is ……. that chaos made physical.

What is the worst thing someone has said about your work?

Someone once said that I was a journeyman writer who produced mid-list work for a minor publisher.

Who is your favourite German Expressionist painter?

Pass.

Thank you Eric. More about Eric and a full catalogue of his books can be found here

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2 responses to “An interview with writer Eric Brown

  1. Mad as a Bad Tornado

    Really interesting to get an insight into the working process of a writer – I find this fascinating. I’m massively impressed by both Eric’s workrate and his straightforward approach to writing – its very refreshing. Great interview!

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