G.N. Braun (Geoff Brown) was raised in Melbourne’s gritty Western Suburbs. He is a trained nurse, and holds a Cert. IV in Professional Writing and Editing. He is currently studying for a Dip. Arts (Professional Writing and Editing). He writes fiction untied to any genre, and is the author of ‘Boneyard Smack’, ‘Bubba wants YOU’, ‘Insurrection’ (all available as free downloads from Legumeman Books) and ‘Santa Akbar!’ (published in Festive Fear: Global Edition, out through Tasmaniac Publications in Australia). He has a short story–‘Autumn as Metaphor’–in the charity anthology Horror For Good, as well as numerous articles published in newspapers. He is the current president of the Australian Horror Writers Association, as well as the past director of the Australian Shadows Awards. His memoir, Hammered, was released in early 2012 by Legumeman Books. He is the owner of Cohesion Editing and Proofreading.
I like to begin my interviews with something gentle, so please tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a writer, an editor, a trained nurse, a husband and father, a small business owner, and now studying to become a teacher at TAFE. I love animals, play guitar, am an avid gamer (PC), and have a weakness for bacon, coffee, and cheesecake.
You have certainly led an interesting life. You have overcome drug addiction and involvement shall we say… criminal activities. Can you recall the moment that you decided… enough is enough, I’m done with this?
I looked down, saw a needle in my arm, filled with blood, and thought ‘Geez, I’m in my thirties now… do I want to be an old junkie, or maybe dead?’ From that moment I decided to get clean. It still took nearly seven years.
How long have you been clean now?
No opiates for maybe eight years, and nothing at all (except coffee and nicotine) for four. Marijuana was the last thing I gave up, but I wanted to do things one at a time, to make it more sustainable.
Last year you published your memoirs, how was that book received, especially by those closest to you.
It has been well-received by all, and extensively reviewed in a positive fashion. It was declared book of the year by Anthony Servante, a US blogger and scholar, and listed in the top ten books of 2012 by another reviewer for the NY examiner.com. All reader reviews so far have been fantastic and positive, with one over-riding similarity – they couldn’t put it down.
Have you always written, or was it something that came to you later in life?
I’ve always read and always written. I can’t separate the two.
As a horror writer I love the freedom that that genre gives you. What is it about horror fiction that attracts you so?
Horror is a genre that looks deeply into the flaws of humanity, either allegorically through traditional horror, or more literally in realist horror. I love that. We can explore those dark tropes that other writers either ignore or gloss over.
Do you think that your past experiences have played an impact in your writing; your narrative choices and style of prose?
I think my life has led me to see the world in a certain way, unlike most other people have a chance to see. I have suffered, and I have triumphed over adversity. I have seen the darker side of humanity, and I have seen triumph and loss. I think this gives me a chance to write of these things from a personal perspective.
I have just finished reading Bubba Wants YOU, and I have to say. It certainly begins with a bang, and pulls no punches. Given the importance of ‘the hook’ especially with short fiction, how much extra time do you take to get that opening just right?
I write the hook straight away. Each of my tales begins with a hook, and I then flesh out the rest of the tale from that hook. I will sometimes go back and rework the opening, but not often.
It was a powerful piece, very dark and gritty. Not something for the faint-hearted. Is this a theme that you strive for or was that just this story?
Every story I write is different, but I feel all writing should elicit powerful emotions in a reader. If not, the writing is not doing its job.
You were a registered nurse, right? Do you still have this same occupation?
I trained and worked as a nurse for many years, but after all the heavy lifting, my back doesn’t allow for that any more. I now run my own editing business, and try to make ends meet from that.
Until now, your work has been short fiction. Do you have plans to try your hand at writing longer pieces, novellas or even novels?
My memoir, Hammered, is a small novel size, and I am currently working on three longer pieces. A survival-horror novella set around bioweapons and illegal research; a gritty crime/thriller novel; and a haunted asylum novella.
Running your own business in the current market is tough. How has it been going?
Slowly building up, and many customers now swear they will never go elsewhere. It’s all about the customer satisfaction and return clientele.
How did you get started in that line of work?
I studied professional writing and editing, and I’ve always been a grammar ninja. It seemed a logical way to work in the field I love and still earn enough to feed the family and my addiction to books
Would you describe yourself as being a writer who edits or an editor who writes?
I am both. I am a writer, and I am an editor. I was a writer first, but I always managed to pick out errors in structure or grammar or punctuation in any books I read, so I guess I’ve always been both.
Most people despise editing. While I am not that great at it (yet) I do enjoy it. What would be the one golden tip you would give someone to help them with their own editing?
Let someone else, fresh eyes, edit for you. They will see what is really there, whereas you only see what you THINK is there.
You are a very busy man, besides being a writer you are an editor and president of the Australian Horror Writers Association? Just how much time do you actually get to spend writing per day?
It varies. I try to write every day, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day. I try to make up the next day if I don’t get enough writing done. With starting a small business, and trying to keep the AHWA running, it sometimes gets out of hand, and I don’t write anything for a few days… then, I try to dedicate an entire day to writing, but deadlines for jobs sometimes don’t allow for that. I do the best I can.
Tell me, how does one become the President of the (Australian) horror writer’s association?
Networking, participation, and a desire to micro-manage everything. LOL
What sort of responsibilities does it bring with it?
Mostly responsible delegation, but I need to ensure the association runs as smoothly as possible, and that the members get the best damn service they can.
There must also be a number of perks to the position.
Free books, and getting to interact with my idols. I’ve gotten to know people like Graham Masterton, Jonathan Maberry, Greig Beck, Kylie Chan, and many other great writers.
Are there any young / up and coming horror writers out there that you think the world should keep their eyes on (besides me of course).
I can’t answer this. There are too many to list, and to only list some would be unfair.
Thank you for your time today Geoff, it has been fun.