Thursday, October 27, 2011

Six questions for Briane Pagel, author of Eclipse

I finished Briane's book Eclipse some time ago, and I have to admit, it is the most cerebral read that I've found while combing the endless books written by independent authors that are begging to be read. I give it five stars out of five.

Now when I say "cerebral" I'm not saying that it is difficult to read. I'm saying that it is challenging to really know what is going on. It's like reading one of Brooke R. Busse's flash fictions that she posts on her blog. Half the time I have no idea what it is that she's writing about.  So if you buy this book, you are purchasing a puzzle. I personally have my own ideas of what is going on with the book but you'd have to look at my review on goodreads. And it is just that...ideas. Mr. Pagel has not elaborated at all as to whether I'm correct or not. Also know that the book is short...novella sized. You can read it in one sitting easy so this is not asking you to set aside weeks to plow through a book. This is something you could flip through while waiting for your turn at the doctor's office.

Mr. Pagel keeps many blogs but the one that I follow the most is Thinking the Lions. I urge you to follow him there (click on link) because he's funny, witty, and I think it's always nice to be friends with a lawyer. :)

For fans of Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks, Eraserhead, and the Tree of Life...this book is for you.

Without further adieu, I give you the man that dared to eat a Twinkie on his blog that was so rancid, I thought for sure he was going to get sick.
I do lawyer stuff and chase my boys around with a camera.
Q: If Eclipse were to be made into a movie, who would your dream director be? Myself, I would choose David Lynch as the cerebral quality of your writing seems to be spot-on with Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead, and even his film adaptation of Dune.

A:  This is hard because I don't really know directors. David Lynch's Mullholland Drive has the feel that I want for Eclipse, a kind of "what the heck just happened" feel, so he wouldn't be bad. But Tim Burton might be able to do a good job of putting a creative spin on it. The book isn't Tim Burton-esque at all, but I'd like to see what he'd do with it. I think a movie should do more than just parrot the written material; the visual and audio element to film both restrains the imagination and adds a new dimension to the work, and I think the interface where my imagination and Tim Burton's meet would be a great place to start Eclipse: The Movie. simply must be seen and you will not understand it. Reaction is everything.
Q: You indicate that Eclipse may have been a collaboration with a friend of yours who might have acted as your muse to egg you to finish this project. How exactly did this surreal story come together?

It actually was a collaboration with The Boy, my eldest son you might know from reading Thinking The Lions. He gave me the idea, which I won't repeat here because it actually spoils part of the story of Eclipse, and I ran with it, writing the first chapter to give him an idea how I'd start it. He read the first chapter and said "Make it weirder," so I did. The use of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and other hard-rock lyrics in the book was a sop to The Boy, who was going through his 70s-music-phase at that point.

Q: Upon finishing your book, what reaction do you want from your reader?

A:  "What the heck just happened here?" is the primary effect I'd like. The book has so many possible interpretations that I'd want a person to think "Okay, that's what it meant" and then later on say "But what if this" so that the storylines and imagery are constantly revisited. So far, people who have read it have almost uniformly come to me and said "So, was it real?" about one aspect or another. I love that.
What the heck just happened here is often what I ask when I watch "Eraserhead"
Q: Eclipse is really literary art. You do a lot of bold things with this book that probably made it difficult to market to agents and publishers. However, if you wanted to pitch it and could do so in only one sentence before the agent of your dreams, how would you pitch Eclipse?

A:  "Eclipse is more of a kaleidoscope than a book, but everytime you turn the kaleidoscope, you get an even more mysteriously horrifying version of an astronaut's journey from madness to murder."

Q: Having self-published, what advice do you give to those who may be looking to follow in your footsteps?

A:  I self-published because I am impatient with the "real" publishing process. I don't want to spend my time writing query letter and I don't want to have to conform my writing to what someone else expects.

I write because I enjoy writing, first and foremost, and secondly because I enjoy hearing from people about my writing, and if writing and being read is your goal, self-publishing is the way to go, because you have absolute creative control over it and never have to query yourself.

With that said, I make 98% of my money from my day job, and 1.9999% of my money from my blogs; the remainder comes from my books. My books are not money-makers. Yet. Selling books is like selling anything else; you have to work at it. If you want to make lots of money with your books, you have to either convince a publisher that you're the next John Grisham so they will put your book in giant stacks in the front of bookstores, or you have to relentlessly push your book in every forum imaginable and convince the public that you are the next John Grisham. I'm not going to quit my job and start going to Comic-con to sell my book, because then writing would just be another job instead of something that I have fun doing and can make a little money at.

But I said "yet." All success is a combination of luck and hard work, with the hard work creating more opportunities for the luck to strike. I market my books and market myself to a certain extent, and hope that I'll get lucky and the right person will read it and it'll start catching on. If it does, I'll finally buy that place in Hawaii. If it doesn't, then, well, I still got to write exactly the story I wanted to write and had fun doing it, and people occasionally review it or email me and tell me they loved it. That means a lot to me.

Q: If you were to pick one novel out there that could stand on the shelf next to Eclipse and be similar by tone and subject matter, what is the name of that novel?

A:  The Illustrated Man, By Ray Bradbury. Not a novel, but a set of short stories that I read when I was 12 and have never forgotten.

Buy Eclipse on Amazon for only .99 cents on your Kindle :)

Have a great Thursday.


  1. Brooke R. Busse is cerebral! When I realized her age, I was amazed.

    I didn't think Twinkies could get rancid. I saw Wall-E.

    Briane Pagel, nice to meet you. Your $ distribution looks EXACTLY like mine.

    Perfect Rowling quote, Michael.

  2. I agree with your advice for the self-published. Marketing makes writing the book seem a lot easier.

  3. SOunds like a really interesting story. I know that with this type of book, I would have gone the self-publishing route as well. I don't think writers should have to conform. I'm going to check the book out and the one by Bradbury.

  4. I need to check this out. I ADORE David Lynch, so if that is Michael's impression, that is a good marker for me. I also really enjoy a good mind f(*& now and again, but probably a quicky is better than a long-drawn out one for my aging attention span.

  5. Go with Burton - he's more commercial.
    I like your breakdown of income - provided a good laugh for me this morning!

  6. Fun interview Michael.

    Taking a look at Thinking the Lions now...

  7. They already made a movie of Eclipse. It has sparkly vampires.

  8. Sounds like something that messes with your head in a good way. In fact my head is little messed up just from reading this, lol.

  9. I'm impressed with your string of reviews, Michael. This is something I've been working up to doing. I've just been delayed because of the move and everything. And I don't fly through books the way you do. This is a great thing, and I appreciate that you are reviewing and interviewing "young" authors.

  10. What a fantastic interview, Michael. And I absolutely love Briane's take on writing. Going to have to add another book to the TBR list.

  11. Okay, you have me definitely curious about this book. Great review and interview!

  12. Matt - Hah!

    One major thing i love about both indie press books and self pubbed books is that there are a lot more novellas available. It's a shame they fell out of favor because there's something so great about a book under 50K words

  13. You know how I feel about Brooke's writing. That comparison alone was enough to make me want to read this book. The rest of the interview only intrigued me more.

  14. By golly, you sold me.

    bought and delivered.

    Thanks for the review.

  15. Lots to comment on! I spent most of today in a 3-hour lunch that wasn't intended to be a 3-hour lunch but it was an old friend and we got to talking about things like "Do you have to be married to have a mistress?" (We agreed: yes) And then "Are 1930-1940s-era noir-ish books like 'The Maltese Falcon' the only TRULY American literary voice?" (also agreed: Yes.)

    All of which is to say, I'm only now getting around to reading the post at 5:00 my time.

    First off, Michael, thanks for posting the questions & links; as I said, I look forward to the SLCKismet bump. I've seen how getting mentioned on your blog brings people flocking and I am very grateful.

    Now, to the commenters:

    @Huntress: Excellent use of the word "Golly," but with a name like "Huntress," I'm pretty sure you're just pretending to be disingenuous.

    @Sarah: I don't know this Brooke person but I'll check him/her (?) out, because if my writing is similar, I'm sure I'll like that stuff.

    @(other Sarah)(these are in reverse order): I actually decided I could publish "Eclipse" as a self-standing novel after reading "Disquiet" by Julia Leigh. That book is similar in tone/length, but entirely dissimiliar in subject matter and I wholly recommend it.

    @janet: hope you check out the book and like it.

    @susan: I just think everyone should do what they love the way they love to do it. Otherwise, what's the point?

    @andrew: "Young" is in quotes, and aptly so. But I'm going to go with it and tonight I'm going home and telling my wife she's married to a "young" guy. (Only what if she then gets shifty eyes and nervous and says "How did you find out?")

    @J.A.: That's the goal, right? Or is it the goal? No, wait, it's definitely the goal. Unless it's not. But how could you trust me?

    @Matthew: My secret hope, when I found out that was that by titling my book "Eclipse," hordes of impressionable young people would buy it off of Amazon sight unseen and I'd be a millionaire. That hasn't happened. But I am a dozen-aire. Watch for my next book to come out with a title something like "E.T.'s Star Wars Brought To You By Disney As Told By Stephen King."

    @Slamdunk: I bookmarked your blogs, so you can look forward to long rambling inane comments on a semiregular basis.

    @Alex: You are not the only person to laugh at my income.

    @Hart: "Eclipse" will definitely f(*& your mind, but it will be polite and tender about it and will call you the next day, if that's not too soon, and you won't think it's creepy. If you DO, "Eclipse" will wait a day or two.

    @Rogue: That is the smartest, best-written thing you've ever said.

    @Clarissa: You will not regret reading "The Illustrated Man." "Eclipse" was in part inspired by one of the stories in there. You'll have to see if you can guess which one. (Hint: It's one of the ones that deal with astronauts.)

    @Cindy: Here's something they don't teach you in marketing school: Charities are MEAN! I had sample copies of my book stolen/thrown away by a charity! And how can you be mad at a charity? (Here's how: ARRRGH! >:( )

    That last parentheses is not a part of the emoticon.

    @Theresa: It was NOT rancid. It was MUMMIFIED. And there is a big difference, trust me on that. Plus, it actually tasted pretty good.

  16. Great interview!

    I love Ray Bradbury--I've never read that particular book by him, but his writing is amazing.

    Eclipse sounds like an interesting story.

  17. David Lynch. One of my favorites.

    Thanks for having Briane over. And yet ANOTHER awesome writer to get to know. :)

  18. I admire authors who can leave some questions unanswered and have a stronger book for it. What an excellent interview!

  19. Oooh, I got mentioned in a post with an author in it! (hmm... awkward sentence) Glad to know my stories are cerebral. I thought they were just confusing. XD

    To Briane, I am, indeed, a her. And I'm glad to know that you're a him. (I see your name in comments quite often and for some reason my brain processes your name as Breanne. Though that makes no sense.)

    Thank you both to Theresa and Sarah for your kind comments. ^^

  20. The book sounds fantastic. I love the log line he used. That alone makes me want to read it. Great interview.

  21. I like a book or movie that has me thinking afterwards about the meaning. I also love what Mr. Pagel said about self-publishing.

  22. I bought Eclipse a week or two ago and intend to read it soon after I finish the book I'm on now.

    Great interview. And yes, Thinking the Lions is my blog of choice for him as well.

  23. Congrats Briane on the book and on the awesome review. I'll have to look the book up and bask in the sparkling cerebral goodness inside.