Graham Brown Questions for Lewis Wolfe

1. Which book (or other media) would you say is your largest influence?

I own a, roughly, 1400 page long collection of all of H.P. Lovecraft’s work and his writing has probably influenced me the most – though there are many others. Even if my own writing is distinctly non-Lovecraftian (the name has high marketing value nowadays), I learned a lot about pacing, world building and creating atmosphere through reading his stories.

2. What part of the book was the most difficult to write?

A Monster Escapes deals with some pretty heavy themes including America’s history with slavery and (child) abuse. Being both engaging and respectful when writing about such themes was definitely a struggle.

3. What was the seed of the book, or the very first thing that came to you as you started the writing process?

Some of the main characters were with me for a really long time before ever starting work on the book. They grew along as I did as a person, maturing into what they ultimately became in the story. I can’t really mention a specific point where everything clicked – that happened gradually – but I did start from the premise that I wanted to write a story about people first…and scary stuff second.

4. Did the book change a lot through different drafts? How so?

Quite a bit. Entire chapters were killed off. Characterization changed on some minor characters and then of course there was the editing to make sure the writing was as engaging as I could make it.

5. If you had to pick any aspect of the book to change, what would it be?

There is a much hated character in the book, Agent Bradford, and in retrospect I regret not breeding more sympathy for him. I could have done that, I think, by spending a little more time developing his character.

6. How much of yourself do you find in the protagonist? Was any of it intentional?

When you write fiction all the characters you put in are extensions of your personality. In this sense I am both the protagonist and the antagonist, and everybody in between. Writing, for me, is a very intuitive process so none of that is intentional. Yet it happens all the same.

7. Did you discover anything new/unexpected while doing research?

If you’re going to write about a nation’s history with something as serious as slavery you better do your homework. I spent hours reading about the development of racial tensions in America and learned a great many unsettling and interesting things. I encourage everybody to do the same.

8. If this is your first experience writing in this genre, what drew you to write the book specifically this way? (If not, what makes this genre one you like to write in?)

Horror has been my genre ever since I can remember. As a kid I devoured Goosebumps stories and slowly progressed to more mature and complicated books. To me Horror is a study of the human psyche more than it is about scaring people, and I find myself naturally drawn to that.

9. Did you ever find yourself burning out on the book? How did you get through that?

Never. I loved every minute of research, writing and editing. It’s as if my energy levels actually increase whenever I’m writing, rather than deplete.

10. What do you most hope readers will take away from this book?

A Monster Escapes is a story about people first, and horror second. Ideally I want readers to relate to the characters and reassess a preconception or two about right and wrong they might have held prior to reading the book.

11. Was this book easier or more difficult to write than others you’ve written?

This is the first book I’ve published, but not the first one I’ve ever written. I would rank its development as no different from my other attempts in level of difficulty.

12. Is this a book that could be easily adapted to other media (movie, podcast, etc.)? How much do you think an adaptation might change it?

In terms of plot the book could easily be adapted into a movie. But the characters are layered and much revolves around their inner lives, motivations and beliefs. I am not sure you could capture that very well through another medium.

13. Has writing this book changed your worldview at all?

I can’t say it has. If anything the book is an expression of how I look at life, the people in it and how we all interact with each other.

14. How much do you think your life impacted how the book turned out?

In fiction the author invites you into their world and shows you around the neighborhood. In a very real sense A Monster Escapes is a reflection of who I am.

15. Is there a certain place/time of day that most inspires you to write?

I can usually write whenever, wherever.

16. Do you have a writing routine? How well do you follow it?

As a working man you’re forced into a routine, and abandoning it is very detrimental to your progress as an indie author. Consistency is key in my case and I set apart two hours in the evening, after exercise and dinner, to work on my writing.

17. Do you think any books (or other media) have been bad influences on your writing?

I think you can take something valuable from most influences out there. The ones I can’t I simply abandon.

18. If you could pick any book to write differently (yours or another’s) which would it be?

I would never do that. Books are reflections of an author’s inner world – who am I to make changes to something like that?

19. What writers do you look up to most, either for their writing or as human beings?

Authors that have inspired me are H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Dennis Lehane, Thomas Harris, Stephen King and Dan Simmons.

20. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Writing is a deeply personal business. Write the story you want to tell, and do it in the way you want to tell it; you’re the only one who can.

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