Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author Brad Carl

This week, I’d like to introduce you to author Brad Carl. He’s a former radio personality who still earns part of his living by doing voice-over work. He grew up in the Midwest and was influenced at an early age by the Hardy Boys book series. Despite a passion for reading and writing, Brad found found being forced to read textbooks and write papers in high school and college was more work than fun.

714gLDIfMOL._US230_This turn-off would lead him away from writing for a long time. However, a few years ago, the creative bug bit Brad hard and he resumed writing. Many of the manuscripts are still on a shelf or being worked on, including some short stories, a web series, and a sitcom pilot.

What can you expect from Brad’s books? You’ll find a quick pace that provides just enough detail to allow the reader to paint their own picture. You’ll also be entertained by expressive dialogue that brings the characters to life, helping the story breathe with believability.

Let’s learn a bit more about Brad.

514o6Q1E56LSo, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Such a loaded question!  My first book series was actually a serial, collectively titled Grey Areas – The Saga. I have also written a one-off novel, Craft Beer Burning, that many people think is a non-fiction book about craft beer, but it’s not. It’s much more entertaining than that, though I might be biased.

I also enjoy writing stories and have released 2 collections. The first is titled 5 Dead or Alive and the most recent one (just released in August) is titled 6 in the Styx.

I’ve dabbled in non-fiction, too. Since I’m a huge music fan, I wrote 50 Songs From the 70s & 80s That Still Hold Up. I also put together (what I believe to be) the ultimate business quotes collection titled 260 Best Inspirational Business Quotes.

51fXJueqruLI’ve also always had an artsy side, which often conflicts with the entertainer in me. The compromise is that the entertainer gets to write stories and books while the artsy-fartsy guy writes poetry and songs. The poetry and songs (I’m also somewhat of a musician) haven’t really seen the light of day yet. The entertainer in me wants to release this material while the artsy guy believes no one cares. 

We’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I’m very excited about my current project that will be an ongoing series (not a serial) with the same characters, etc. It takes place in small town Iowa (just like Grey Areas) and follows two main characters: A female sheriff’s deputy and a man who has just moved back to town after having left twenty years ago. I plan to use many of the same elements from Grey Areas – psychological suspense, drama, and some romance – while also diving more deeply into the mystery aspect of writing. Right now I expect each book will probably have a new “mystery” or case, along with the ongoing issues with the recurring characters.

How much research do you do? That’s a great question. I never feel like I do much research and yet, I clearly do. Most often I do it as I write. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of writing something and I’ll realize, I don’t know this well enough – I need to get more information. And I’ll stop what I’m doing and look things up. Sometimes I’ll think I know what I’m talking about but down the road my editor will see something and make a note that says, “You might want to verify this, I don’t think it’s correct.” 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I used to write from the hip but have been working lately on planning things out more ahead of time. Sometimes it’s difficult to plan until you actually start to write because that’s when your plot and characters become REAL. On the other hand, the writing comes out a lot faster when you have things planned. You just have to be ready to make some adjustments on the fly, and that’s okay.

51QAaN8dKJL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? Both. I do a bunch of proofreading and editing on my own, but I also have an editor who does a superb job of making me shine before anyone else sees my work. I think it’s very important, even as an indie, to use a professional editor. I’ve heard a lot of self-publishers say, “I can’t afford it.” Sure, I get it. If your goal is to publish a book and have your friends and family tell you how wonderful it is – cool. But you’re not allowed to question why your book doesn’t have a broader scope of sales. 

Self-publishing gets a bad rap because anybody can do it and as a result, there’s a lot of unedited, crummy books on Amazon right now. It can be difficult for readers to separate the good stuff from the crap until it’s too late and they’ve spent their money. 

Bad, unedited books have turned “self-publishing” into a bad word the same way used car salesmen turned “salesman” into a bad word. People tend to not trust either.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I truly do. To tag on to my previous answer, you can’t expect to be taken seriously if your cover looks amateurish. The first impression people get of you as a writer is your book cover(s). That’s pretty important, I think.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) As I’ve already mentioned, I self-publish. I like to refer to it as “indie” because of the aforementioned stigma attached to “self-published.” 

Why do I do everything myself? I could go on for days about this, and I don’t want to sound like I’m slamming people who seek out “being published.” The simple answer is I’m a control freak when it comes to my stuff. These books are like my children and I couldn’t possibly trust someone else to nurture and raise them with the care and attention to detail that I do. Seriously, I cannot fathom it. Like I said, I could go on forever about this so I’ll stop myself here.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? If you want more time to write more books, being published traditionally (I expect) is a big help and will free up more of your time to write. Publishers are a dime a dozen though, so you have to be careful with what you’re getting yourself into. 

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Man oh man. Well, there are two different types of reviews. First, there’s the kind that are done by book bloggers. For example, you wrote one here for Grey Areas – The Saga. This type of review is great exposure and generally positive. Then there are reviews by the readers – primarily on Amazon. Most of them are great. But there are some people out there who quite honestly don’t know have a clue what they’re doing and need to have their Internet privileges revoked. 

91BJ+Jsc9rL._AC_UL872_QL65_Do you think that giving books away free works and why? To an extent I think it does. I know many writers struggle with this. Some of them take a lifetime to finish writing the Great American Novel and can’t fathom giving it away for free. But if your plan is to write several books and make some regular income, giving away the first book in your series is a great way to hook potential readers into your characters and storyline at no cost to them. It shows that you have faith in your work. Of course, this is a terrible idea that will definitely backfire if your first book is awful.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Write. Keep writing. Don’t stop, moron. 

I wish I had known then what I know now. Two or three decades ago I didn’t believe it would ever be possible for me to making a living writing. I had no idea I would be able to control my own destiny like I can now. The Internet changed everything. If I had written more back then, I’d have a lot more material to work with now than I do. Ooops.

What do your fans mean to you? I wouldn’t have the desire to keep doing this if it wasn’t for the rabid readers and fans. Writing is not like a disease to me. It’s the enthusiasm from the readers that drives me. If people hadn’t wanted to know more about Henry Fields, I’m not sure I would’ve finished Grey Areas.

Where is your favorite place to write? On my back. Truman Capote said, “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” I can relate. I’m not really on my back when I write, but I try to always have my feet up in a recliner or on an ottoman. Otherwise I’m not comfortable and can’t relax.

Besides writing books and producing voice work, Brad is also a successful businessman in the textile and packaging industry. He currently resides in Kansas City, MO with his wife, Kristi, and daughter, Presley. The family also has a dog (Ali).

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