Interview with Brian D. Anderson: “I chip away at the story until it’s written.”

Brian D. Anderson is an independent author with over 25 novels to his name. He rose to fame during the indie publishing explosion and became known as one of the original independent authors of that time.

Anderson’s debut series, The Godling Chronicles, was a massive hit and cemented his place as a talented writer. He followed up with the equally popular Dragonvein series, with Book One becoming a Top Five Finalist on for Fantasy Book of the Year in 2015.

Anderson co-authored the Akiri series with Steven Savile, and he was the first independent author to secure a six-figure audio-only deal for his highly anticipated two-book sequel of The Godling Chronicles. He then secured a three-book deal with Tor Books for The Sorcerer’s Song series and is currently writing short fiction for the “Conan the Barbarian” franchise.

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Hey Brian, we’re so excited to have you join us on Famous Writing Routines. To start off, could you give our readers a brief overview of your background as an author?

As a young man, writing was merely a hobby. I wrote short stories mostly. A few poems. But nothing substantial. While I enjoyed it, the idea of becoming a professional novelist never entered my mind in any serious way. In those days I was a musician and was still dreaming of becoming a rock star. I suppose you can guess how that worked out. 

It really wasn’t my early experiences with writing that eventually steered me toward the path of becoming a writer. It was an early experience as a reader. Tolkien, Asimov, Herbert, Lewis, McCaffrey, making the complete list would take hours. But reading the works of great authors, recalling how I felt as I explored the worlds their minds created, heavily influenced me in later years. 

How did your previous interests and aspirations, such as being a rock star, influence your writing and your approach to storytelling?

I’m not sure how much music influenced my writing. I’m sure it must have, but I couldn’t express to you how exactly. I think what influenced me most is the same thing that influences all writers. It was my life experience. 

I’ve lived what one might describe as a colorful life. Tempestuous and lacking direction at times. Perilous and fraught with severe consequences for others. I’ve traveled alone without the protection of friends and family at an age I should have been in school worrying about homework and girlfriends.

I dropped out of anything resembling a traditional life for years at a time, living on the beach, playing music on the road, or just hitchhiking from town to town without knowing my destination or how long I would stay. At seventeen, I took a job with a seafood exporter in the Dominican Republic where I rode around in a truck all day, smoking pot, and packing up seafood to be sent to the states. I married my first wife at twenty, divorced at twenty-one, and was homeless for several months afterward. 

That’s not to say I was completely wild and irresponsible. I did eventually return to college. I remarried. Had a child. Worked steady jobs. I even contemplated becoming an engineer.  

But it was these things and more that helped mold me into the storyteller I am today. I think it’s why I enjoy character development more than anything else I write into my novels. 

You’ve written over a dozen novels, how do you approach the process of creating new worlds and characters for each of your stories?

The world building for me is secondary to the story and characters. So I start with a plot and the people. Once I have a baseline, I give the characters a personal history. This way I know how they will react to the world and situations I put them in.

As for the “how”? It comes to me the same way inspiration comes to anyone. It just appears. You never know when it will happen. The only real difference from me and other people is that I have developed a set of skills that allows me to expand on my inspiration. 

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Can you give us an overview of your writing routine? How do you structure your day to fit in writing and when do you find you are most productive?

Since I write full-time, it’s not hard to find time. But I’m a chronic procrastinator. So I try to maintain a routine as much as possible. 

I usually get up around 3am-4am and make coffee. As a smoker, the first hour is a breakfast of nature’s perfect food – coffee and cigarettes. The house is usually quiet for another hour, so I map out my goals for the day. Around this time my wife is up and getting ready for work, so I sit with her in the living room until she’s ready to go back upstairs. At this point it’s time to get some words on the page. 

On a typical day, I get about two-thousand words written. The first thousand, I try to have before 10am so I can take a nap. I get up again around noon and bang out the second thousand. Some days I am highly productive and can reach as many as five thousand words. But it’s rare and I try not to push that hard. Afterward I’m often burned out and become lazy the next day. Sometimes two. 

Slowly but surely, I chip away at the story until it’s written.  

How do you stay motivated and focused when you encounter writer’s block or other challenges in your writing process?

When I have deadlines and a publisher has paid me an advance, writer’s block isn’t a luxury I have. A dear friend, Toby Neal, said it best: You can’t fix what’s not on the page. 

Push through. Make it to your word count goal. You can go back. But only if you’ve moved forward.

What does your writing workspace look like? 

Like a tornado had a fight with a hurricane and lost. Let’s just say, I’m not the most organized person in the world. 

Photo courtesy of the author

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