Interview Brian Freeman
Cecilia | On 02, Set 2012
|foto di Brian Freeman|
Brian Freeman would not need any introduction. His novels have been sold in 46 countries and translated into 20 languages. He made his debut with Immoral, who won the Macavity Award for best first film, followed, again at Piemme Las Vegas Baby, Dance of moths, dust and blood and the breath of the ice (finalist at the International Thriller Writers Awards). Everyone has as its protagonist Lieutenant Jonathan Stride, instead, I Doubt gives way to Detective Cab Bolton. Brian Freeman loves to get in touch with his fans, via e-mail and on Facebook.
1. Hi Brian and welcome on my blog. First of all I want to ask you to introduce yourself telling me something about your training and your goal.
B.: My goal is simple. I want readers to pick up every book and say: This is the best one yet! Everything I do, I do for my readers, to give them entertainment and all the emotions that come with thrillers: exhilaration, fear, excitement, tears, and laughter. If I’m keeping you up past your bedtime, then I’m doing my job!
2. When did you decide to become a writer?
B.: I’m one of those people who has never wanted to be anything else. Being a writer has been my goal my whole life. I had a wonderful teacher in school who recognized my love of writing and told me to forget about the lesson plans when I was in her class. She just wanted me to sit there and write my stories. So that’s what I did. After her class – I was about 13 then – I sat down and wrote my first full-length novel. I’ve been writing ever since.
3. What was your beginning like? Was it difficult for you to have your novels published?
B.: Oh, the publishing industry is very challenging! I wrote five books in my life before I ever even started the book that became my breakthrough novel, IMMORAL. They’re all in my nightstand drawer now. You have to be very persistent and determined to succeed as a writer, and you can never give up! Fortunately, things happen for a reason. Around the time I had IMMORAL ready to go, I had a fortunate introduction to a literary agent in London, who read the manuscript and loved it. All of a sudden, after twenty years of failure, I had publishing deals around the world. I now have six novels in Italy: Immoral, Las Vegas Baby, La Danza Delle Falene, Polvere e Sangue, Il Respiro del Ghiaccio, and Il Dubbio.
4. Describe us your typical day. Do you have a modus operandi to start the draft of a novel?
B.: Yes, I always start with a plan and an outline. My plots are very complex, and it would be easy to write myself into a corner if I didn’t know where I was going! However, the outline also evolves as I write the book itself. You have to listen to the characters as you write and let them guide you. My days are pretty typical. I spent so much time in traditional jobs that I still work a Monday to Friday schedule. I spend a lot of time in the mornings thinking about each chapter, and then I do most of my actual writing in the afternoons. Plus, I spend weeks – maybe months – thinking about the plot for each book and all of the characters. My wife thinks I’m sleeping when I have my eyes closed on the sofa, but I’m really working! Well, most of the time!
5. What writers stirred your interest as a reader? Did they influence you in any way when you began to be ….on the other side of the fence?
B.: Growing up, I read a lot of big dramatic writers like James Michener, Leon Uris, and Irving Wallace. I think that’s why my books are more character-driven and emotional than the typical thriller. I like drama that arises out of the emotions, secrets, and sexuality of the characters. So I’m still influenced by those early writers.
6. Are you more critical as a reader or as a writer?
B.: I’m very critical of myself. I edit all the time. If I picked up one of my earlier books now, I’d open it up and start editing! It does make it hard for me to be a reader now, too. I can’t lose myself in other people’s stories the way I did before I became a writer. It feels like work now to read someone else’s thriller!
7. As an American writer, what differences do you notice between the American and the Italian publishing? Do you think the thriller is a genre deprived of all power?
B.: Italy is one my best markets, so I love the Italian publishing industry! They are wonderful! Piemme does such a great job with the covers and in getting my books in front of readers. And I really do love hearing from my Italian fans. They are so enthusiastic about my books and characters…it inspires me every day to sit down and keep writing. I really hope to make it to Italy in person sometime soon to meet readers. It’s been a bit of a challenge because of the economy and the downturn in the American publishing industry. But I’ll get there! As for the thriller genre, I really believe there is still much to be done with it, because there are many fascinating characters to create.
8. Almost all novels of yours have as main character the first lieutenant Jonathan Stride. In which way did the idea of the character arise? And how did he evolve in the following novels?
B.: I write my books carefully so that they can be read in any order, but yes, Stride, Serena, and Maggie do evolve in the first five books. When I created Stride, I didn’t want a stereotypical emotionless detective. I wanted a real human being, passionate about the people around him, who sometimes makes mistakes. I think that’s why readers relate to Stride – he’s human, not a super-hero. People ask me if I know how the Stride series will end, and I say – no, of course not. I think all of us as people evolve based on our experiences, and that’s true of the characters in my books, too. Stride will be a different man based on what happens to him in the books ahead. He has already changed a lot because of his relationship with Serena. I know readers are anxious to find out what happens to him next, and never fear, I have a new Stride novel done!
9. You began with “Immoral” that won the Macavity Award as the best first work. Piemme is your publishing house in Italy, which is publishing now “Il dubbio”, with a new main character: the detective Cab Bolton. Would you like to tell us something about him?
B.: I put Stride through such hell in the first five books that I thought the poor man needed a rest! So I have now done IL DUBBIO and a stand-alone book that will appear in Italy next year (it’s called SPILLED BLOOD in the US). After that, my new Stride novel will be released! I am working right now on a new novel featuring Cab Bolton from IL DUBBIO, so I will have two parallel series going for readers. Cab is very different from Stride. He’s younger, and he has an unusual background from most detectives, because he has money; he’s the son of a well-known Hollywood actress. So he investigates crimes because he likes it, not because he needs it as a career. However, it means he often changes directions in life. Right now, he is in Florida, but he’s the kind of hero I can take anywhere. I already have a traditional police series with Stride…I think Cab will cover some very different cases.
10. I’ve read you have very good relations with your readers, also through the social network (I myself got in touch with you on Facebook-editor’s note). What feelings do you want to convey on your readers with your novels?
B.: I love hearing from readers! I’m on e-mail (email@example.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/bfreemanfans), and now Twitter (@bfreemanbooks). I have an Italian web page, too (www.bfreemanbooks.com/italia.html). Nothing makes me more proud than hearing from readers who enjoy my books. I’ve had some wonderful messages from people…I’ve heard from soldiers serving overseas, from young people who have rediscovered the joys of reading through my novels, and from people in difficult personal situations who have used my books to lift themselves out of their day-to-day circumstances. It’s a great honor. Readers are why I do what I do, so I always encourage people to contact me if they have loved my novels. Of course, I also encourage them to tell their friends! Post about me, tweet about me, write to your local newspaper…it really helps when readers use word-of-mouth to tell others about my books.
11. Tell me an anecdote that happened to you.
B.: I hear from readers all over the world, and often they write to me in their own languages, because they read the books in translation. That means I have to use online translators, and if you’ve ever used them, you know that they are pretty rough! So I thought I was being very smart, and I used an online translator to reply to readers in their own language. However, I began to wonder exactly what I was saying to these people, and I ran one of my replies back into English. I discovered to my horror that my typical e-mail signature, which is “With warmest wishes,” was being translated into Spanish as “With hottest desires”! I wonder if that explains my success in Spain!
12. You like to sound out the psychological side in your novels, don’t you?
B.: Yes, to me it’s all about the characters. I want you to get inside the heads of the people in the books. I don’t like super-heroes and super-villains. I want to write about real people who are drawn across some terrible lines. Sometimes I will write chapters with tears running down my face, because I care so much about the characters. I hope that the readers will, too.
13. What song would you link to your last novel (it’s a game I play with all the writers…..I just want to understand what musical genre you listen to)?
B.: I have eclectic musical tastes…I listen to a lot of different music. One of my Italian fans is a wonderful composer named Tullio Pizzorno. I think you should listen to Tullio’s music while you are reading my books! They go well together!
Thank you very much, Brian. Good luck for all of your projects!