Interview with Chris DeBrie, Author of Shakespeare Ashes

Author Chris DeBrie seems to have left footprints in many places. He is a writer, cartoonist, and musician. He's traveled to Latvia, claims darts and bowling as his favorite games, and once spent a year of nights learning to project astrally. With his latest novel, he spreads himself around again, delving into the thoughts of several very different characters. Perhaps it's time to reel Mr. DeBrie in a bit: his Facebook tag reads, "I'm not smiling, it's just lunacy."

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Chris DeBrie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I started writing and drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Since then, most everything in my life has revolved around art. When adults would ask what I wanted to be, I remember saying 'veterinarian'. That love for animals is still in me, but I knew I was headed in this direction.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: There's never any 'why' in what I do; I'm just following my nose. Shakespeare Ashes is about four young people. They're leaving school and are up against the so-called real world. Their lives intersect in varied ways, and they're very aware of what's going on around them. But in some ways, these characters are still discovering who they are. I got a nice, comfortable spot in their heads and transcribed the thoughts. It's written in alternating first-person, and very unfiltered. Maybe a PG-13 sticker was needed.

What kind of research was involved in writing Shakespeare Ashes?

A: Not so much. I depended more on my observations of everyday life. That's always true as I write. Even when a story has sci-fi elements, character arrives first; the big explanations and technical talk are last.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: It's been difficult, but there's nothing wrong with a little nausea. No one can make you write, and it's done alone. Everybody says "I could write a story", and though it's true, in the end they don't--because unless you're ridiculously gifted and prolific, you give up so much to hang out with that blank page.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

A: About three months.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: I've never had an agent or manager. It would be a luxury for writers who aren't well-known. They've got connections writers simply can't have on their own. They have real-world knowledge we can't find online. And they free up time for more creating.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: There's a batting lineup's worth of books in my cabinet, if I'm blessed with the health to finish them.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Anywhere, anytime. My best ideas come when I'm away from the laptop. Those ideas get written on ripped-off pieces of cardboard, receipts, and the back of my hand if all else fails. Somewhere, someone's walking around with a graffitied five-dollar bill: HITLER v. REX?

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: A hand-picked producer, who would then gather a team and put the story in theaters or on Broadway.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: Promotion was the last thing on my mind until fairly recently. All I cared about was the story and characters. I was satisfied to hold the books and know they were real. That changed when I got on the Web after a four-year absence, and saw how it had grown. There are more ways to connect with new people. We're all checking out other cultures and arts online. A writer can find an audience in any country... Away from the computer, contacting bookstores, local papers, and book clubs are usually good ideas.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A: People quit lots of things because they are thinking about the end result--a reward of some kind. And when they don't get what they expected, or it's delayed, they toss it all. I've done it, too. But that never happened with writing, though I did consider giving up making a living at it. When I'm too busy to write for whatever reason, I get ill-at-ease after a few days. So I knew from the start, I'd make up stuff no matter what job I had.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

A: I'm still on my own search for true wisdom.

Thank you for your interview, Chris. I wish you much success!

A: Grazie.


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  2. I was very impressed with Chris DeBrie because he puts promotions in the last place. This may rarely exist in the mind-known authors because they must prioritize the promotion so that people buy their books.
    I think Chris really writing for others so he thought of all the good characters and makes the reader interested. The love of art since he was a child to make him grow into a great writer and I'm sure he has a good personality.


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