For this week’s author interview, I am pleased to spotlight writer Brandon Getz. In fact, I’m pleased to say that today’s post marks a first for this site. Unlike the previous interviewees who I found through the vast expanse of the world wide web, I actually met Brandon in real-life. Yes, writers do indeed exist in places other than online! It was a shock to me too! Brandon writes cool, offbeat literature, and we recently discussed his space opera serial as well as his future writing plans.
A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I started writing stories independently (not for school assignments) when I was ten. My first story, “A Dangerous Dude,” filled 64 pages in a Taz notebook. It’s a ten-year-old’s mishmash of ‘90s action movies, super-soldier serums, inter-dimensional travel, cyberpunk futurism, and all the guns from Doom. Pretty ridiculous. I’ve been writing ever since. It’s more of a compulsion than a vocation; I can’t not write stories. I think my head would explode. Current favorites are China Miéville, Raymond Chandler, Jonathan Lethem, David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood. Neil Gaiman inspired me to write my first “literary” short story when I was sixteen. George Saunders was my idol later on, especially in grad school. I still love his work—a fantastic blend of satire, pathos, and genre elements borrowed from sci-fi and horror. I’ve read “Sea Oak” probably 20 times.
Until recently, your background as a fiction writer was mostly in the literary genre, but with your current serial, Lars Breaxface, Werewolf in Space, you are segueing into speculative fiction. How, if at all, has that transition changed your approach to writing?
My stories have always tended toward the weird. A man’s mid-life crisis unfolding in a taxidermy factory. A widower and his baby daughter visited by demons. A mysterious bottle of unicorn tears, or the strange white neighbors next door. With Lars Breaxface, Werewolf in Space, though, I think I’m just cranking the weird-o-meter up to 11. It’s a send-up to all the sci-fi and monster movies I’ve been watching since I was a kid, and I’m trying to keep it as ridiculous as possible. My ten-year-old self would love it.
Lars Breaxface releases a new installment every week or two. Prior to the launch of chapter one, did you plot the entire serial, or are you allowing some elements to develop organically as you go along?
Totally organic. When I wrote chapter one, I didn’t even know who the mysterious stranger he meets in chapter two was going to be. After I introduced Jay, I got a rough idea of what I was going to do, a couple of classic monster riffs I wanted to introduce as characters (witch, zombie, creature from the space lagoon…), and where I thought the story would end up eventually. Almost seven chapters in, all of that is holding together pretty well, but if the story decides to take me somewhere else, I’m gonna follow.
In addition to your fiction, you also write poetry and nonfiction. How is your process different (or similar) for each?
Story ideas are like earworms–they infest and evolve, they’ll gestate for days or weeks before I finally put them on the page. Poetry tends to be more spontaneous. An idea pops in and I just write it in one brief sitting, usually focused around a central image. Nonfiction, so far, has only been the paid kind, mostly in the form of short portraits of artists and performers involved in local events. I love it—I love talking to people who are creating art and are passionate about what they do. But it’s a whole different animal from the creative stuff.
Out of your published pieces so far, do you have a personal favorite?
Probably “White People,” which came out in The After Happy Hour Review this spring. It’s my newest published piece (minus Lars Breaxface, which I won’t count since it’s still ongoing), so maybe that’s why I’d call it the favorite. But… it is pretty hilarious. I laughed out loud writing it. I’m also still partial to my first published story, about God and the Devil playing chess. At first I’d written that story as a joke, a kind of challenge to see if I could turn the cliché on its head. It was such an affirmation to have that piece be my first in print. It was the complete opposite of the Raymond Carver knockoff bullshit I thought I was supposed to be writing. Also, I wrote a story about a robot on a park bench that was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I feel obligated to list that among the favorites. It’s called “Robot on a Park Bench.”
Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?
Shopping a novel and a collection. With Werewolf in Space, I’m still feeling out the process of novel writing, something I’ve been trying to learn for the past three years (two aborted/on-hiatus projects still bear the scars of my novice attempts to push beyond 4,000 words). Whatever happens with Lars after his space-faring serial, I hope to apply this writing process to future projects. As for the collection, I’m about halfway there. Seven stories finished and published, a handful of others in the pipeline. I’ve got a graphic novel project in the works with Pittsburgh artist Ross Kennedy of Armature Tattoo, and I’m also mulling the idea of a kids’ series. More adventures with monsters and silliness, R.L. Stine-style.