Author Interview: DH Brown

Author Mini-bio: D.H. Brown
Hello Michy. Good to talk to you.

Well, I live pretty deep in the Pacific Northwest Rainforest with all kinds of critters besides my wife who is a writer also. We have bear, deer, elk and cougar come through the yard on a fairly often, plus all the coons, squirrels, chipmunks, jays and assorted other vermin we feed on a regular basis. Got a few neighbors around, none with shouting distance and it’s 18 miles to the mail box.

I been fortunate to have lived a varied life that’s ranged from soldier to day labor, professional guide, homesteader, restaurateur to writer. I’ve been writing for years, starting way back during my Army years and before. Mostly nonprofit communications, even tried my hand at movies. In ’86 I produced the independent children’s film “Lessie’s Rainbow” that was filmed in Sequim. During the late ’80s and early ’90s, I wrote the book “Common Sense” and delivered the seminars of the same name for the Community Action Network of Seattle (CAN). My book, HONOR DUE, a Mystery/Action/Thriller set in and around Washington’s Olympic Peninsula was recently published. It’s somewhat based on my military service during the Vietnam War, interesting people that have passed by over the years and life since.
AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

DH Brown: Since I’m a 100% disabled vet with Agent Orange related Diabetes and chronic PTSD and having had open heart surgery as well, there’s little else I can do. There are days I can’t write at all, so the going gets real slow. On the nights I can’t sleep, I write up a storm. I guess it balances out. I’ve lived what I write about, and know people who still live the life. There’s all sorts of fiction being published and from the feedback I’m getting, there’re also readers out there who want a dose of reality mixed into their fiction. I hope HONOR DUE and the future books of the series encompass that.

What compelled you to write your first book?

DH Brown: I wouldn’t say compelled really. HONOR DUE and The Citizen Warrior series was more like the accumulation of an interesting life finally meeting some long held aspirations. It all started to meld about 3 years ago when with some encouragement from my doctor and therapist, I started writing down the bones of a couple long held story lines. After working out what I really wanted to write, it sort of flowed from there. HONOR DUE was essentially finished in 3 months. It took another 2 years to polish and for me to get up the nerve to actually seek a publisher. The next book HONOR DEFENDED is now in that process.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

DH Brown: As I said before I’ve been writing for years, however if you mean as a novelist, well, yes. I used to lay in bed as a boy and spend many hours spinning out stories in my imagination. Over the years I’d write down notes and stuff them into a box I’ve packed around. Some of them notes are now in print.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about.

DH Brown: HONOR DUE is about the Major, a burned-out former covert operative enjoying a quiet life at his home in the deep timberlands of the Pacific Northwest; when out of the blue, assassins come gunning for him. After the Major’s neighbor finds a killing zone in an abandoned cabin, he learns that someone has abducted, tortured and killed Ang, the Montagnard Striker war brother he’d gotten out of Vietnam as the South fell. Ang’s adult daughter Blon, also abducted, managed to escape into the trackless and dense northwest forest. The Major follows her almost invisible steps with Black Dog bringing her back from the edge of death. Enlisting her brother Blik, the Major and Blon hunt for the clues that will lead to why they are being targeted. A now powerful figure from the Major’s past is trying desperately to eliminate old connections which can bring him down. He’s forgotten when one hunts the hunter, death also becomes a partner. The Major is a predator of the highest caliber who hasn’t forgotten the deadly art of hunting human prey. Old blood debts are presented for payment, with interest, for the honor due them. Along the way, romance blooms and the old warrior finds life is still worth living.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

DH Brown: I’m deep into the second re-write of HONOR DEFENDED due out this summer and finishing up the first draft of HONOR REDEEMED, currently scheduled for 2009. Both, the continuing adventures and life of the Major and books in The Citizen Warrior Series.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

DH Brown: Nope. Haven’t even entered any contest.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

DH Brown: Accomplished and satisfied.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

DH Brown: I like to play old classic country music in the background sometimes. Having a news channel running doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s part of my desire to avoid crowds but living in the rainforest is a pleasure all of it’s own and conducive to writing.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

DH Brown: The voices of the characters in my head. When I’ve developed them to the point I can hear them, I have to get them out and on the screen.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

DH Brown: My kids.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

DH Brown: Much is autobiographical in nature, reflecting many people who have made an impression on me. Also the local area which I fell in love with 26 years ago. I always thought the West End would lend itself to some sort of mystery or thriller. HONOR DUE’s background is essentially based on my war years as a logistics and weapons specialist and my life in the bush. Writing books came late in life, suggested by my therapist and Psyche Meds doctor who thought I should write about what I know. So here we are. Writing is therapy and a way for me to get out the internal thoughts. The world behind my eyes has always been larger than the physical one I live in.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

DH Brown: None I try to emulate. I feel that the writer who heads down that path is looking for trouble. Writing has to be original from the writers own thoughts I had one until she told me the Major wasn’t vulnerable enough. He had to be more touchy feely. When I asked what she meant, her response was that the Major was too perfect, and readers want a hero with “emotions and doubts.” Hell, you survive 35 years in the world’s killing fields you must be doing something right. I would hope that the time of doubts and making mistakes for that character would be long past. I read somewhere that more that 75% of all publishers and editors today are women, and Chic-Lit rules. Yet, every woman that’s read the Major’s story says she wants more. Go figure.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

DH Brown: Raymond Chandler who wrote the Marlowe series and Robert Heinlein and about every Sci Fi book I could lay my hands on. John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series and everything written by Mickey Spillane. Those are just a few. I’ve still got over 800 books on my shelves and a few of them go back to that time. With all the travel in my youth it was hard to save a book. Now I can’t seem to throw one away.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

DH Brown: Modern author, I’d have to say that right at the top of the list would be James Lee Burke. He’s a master of description. Can I have a couple more? Robert B. Parker. He can cram a whole story in 50,000 words and make you think you’ve read a book. And… Lee Child. Something about his writing draws the reader into Jack Reacher’s life. If I can ever do half as well, I’ll think of myself as a successful writer. Of course there are many others. I still like Sci Fi and read a great deal of it.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

DH Brown: He could tell a great tale.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now – city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?

DH Brown: I was born in Medford Oregon and lived there 3 days until they sent Mom home from the hospital. My parents were missionaries. Between their travels and another world travel plan courtesy of Uncle Sam, I’ve touched base in more than 40 countries and almost every state of the union and all be 2 Canadian Provinces. I was teaching Sunday school at age 8, was first ordained at the age of 12, graduated high-school at 16, and was for awhile an associate pastor with the largest Assembly of God church in Missouri in the nursing home ministry. Most of my early life was rural, sometimes very rural and lived among mostly aboriginal peoples. Eskimos and Athabaskan Indians in Alaska and Canada. Thailand, Philippines, Fiji, Ecuador, Mexico and places in between. Then among the Navajo, Apache, Zuni, Hopi, Ute in the Four Corners region. Actually went to school only 7 years out of twelve. The rest home schooled.

Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them.

DH Brown: Until this past year I’ve had dogs and cats all my life. In December, our faithful companion of 16 years, Buddy Dog, passed on. In fact, the Black Dog in HONOR DUE is built on him. Gimpy leg and all. Still find myself saving scraps on my dinner plate for him.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

DH Brown: Log home in deep forest with a river out front. If you expect me to say ‘I get up at 6 with the Sun and after a cup of coffee, write for 4-5 hours everyday’ you’ll be disappointed. I rarely rise before 10 as I don’t sleep well and generally spend my day catching up on my computer work and email, reading, or doing a mail run into town, 18 miles away. Oh yeah, cooking dinner when my wife says I have to or my own breakfast. Most of my writing happens during the dark hours. Late pm till early am. That seems to be when I can hear the characters’ voices most clearly. It’s quiet and well… I’m awake anyway.

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

DH Brown: YUCK!

What about movies? Same as above.

DH Brown: When you live 80 miles from the nearest theater don’t get to too many. Watch some on Pay-per-view. Think the last one was No Country For Old Men. Loved the book by the way.

Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

DH Brown: One reviewer said it was hard to put a genre label on HONOR DUE. It was the best of most of them. I’m just a story teller. I want the reader to feel like they’re having a cup of their favorite brew and sitting across the table and listening to the Major tell his story. Seems like fiction in the Mystery/Action/ Thriller genre with a military flair, although I’ve been told that my books don’t really fit any set genre. One female reader told me HONOR DUE was really Romance. That was a surprise.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

DH Brown: After working out what I really wanted to write, HONOR DUE was essentially finished in 3 months. . It just seemed to flow. It took another 2 years to polish and for me to get up the nerve to actually seek a publisher. The next book HONOR DEFENDED is now in that process.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

DH Brown: Writers do not write in a vacuum and I’m no exception. It takes the input and commitment of many to bring a work to fruition. So my heartfelt thanks goes to: Michael “Max” Lund, Nam vet and fellow war traveler who provided insight into the character of the Montagnard, refreshed my memories and gave invaluable help in the development of all the individuals portrayed. Y’Jut Buon To, without his translation skills I would have not been able to put words in the mouths of my characters. Jut’s continued dedication to the plight of his people remain without peer in the Montagnard communities both here and in Southeast Asia. Neil Olsen, another Vietnam peer and linguist who provided materials and language guidance. Wendy Lumbert, old friend and client who lent her exceptional editorial skills to make my words flow. Also my profound thanks to my many readers who provided much needed encouragement and comment. Dave Norman, Alma Bond, Michael Curtis Ford, Lynn Lot, Don Terrell, Joseph Revell and all the others I may have forgotten to mention here. They know who they are. Lastly my love, my friend, personal editor, proofreader and sounding board, my reason for living, Rebecca. Without whom my writing would not even be possible.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

DH Brown: I hope that the reader takes away a sense of the honor that Veterans have earned and that goes with them throughout their lives. And the values that men of war hold dear. It’s been said that only the Warrior truly knows the reason wars should not be fought. I think the converse is also true. They also recognize there are some things that cannot be tolerated.

How has having a book published changed your life?

DH Brown: Nothing really. I live a secluded life and continue to enjoy the solitude.

Many authors have said that naming their characters is a difficult process, almost like choosing a name for their own child. How did you select the names of some of your lead characters in your books?

DH Brown: I did a full web search of names by nationality and country. Some of the names in HONOR DUE are combinations of real people I’ve known. I’ve never been that hung up on naming characters. If it sounds right it stays.

Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?

DH Brown: I haven’t run into that one. I’m really anal about character development. I really have to know a character to get them to act right in a story. After I get past the outline, the characters start taking form. At that stage, as they appear, I start to fill them out. Each one gets a file of his/her own. I put down everything I can think of, hair color, eyes, age, facial features, habits(good and bad), favorite words and sayings, work, lifestyle, types of vehicle, family, background. Building a character that walks and talks like a real person takes time. At least it does for me. I want to get to know them, hear their voice, the lilt of their language, expressions, how they dress, eat and sleep, and other everyday stuff. I may not use a lot of it but the more I know the realer they become. My character do what I want not what they want.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

DH Brown: Life is real and while fantasy is enjoyable once in awhile one should remember that those around you aren’t necessarily in a fantasy world with you. Be careful out there. A little fear is a good thing.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

DH Brown: Never had one and doubt I ever shall. Me and crowds don’t mix well. I’m really not a community animal.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

DH Brown: I got some wonderful feedback from my reading group and of course my personal editor, my wife. However it all comes down to what a writer is willing to change. When someone messes with one of my characters it’s a non-starter. Full stop.

Anything you want your readers to know?

Thanks, Michy. It’s been a pleasure to chat with you. I appreciate the chance. I guess telling your readers to Google, D. H. Brown and HONOR DUE, gets out the main info about my writing. My wife tells me there’s a fair number of hits available. My website is http://www.dhbrownbooks.com and of course my Official MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/dhbrownbooks. I post things to my blog there occasionally. HONOR DUE is available to retail outlets through Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor and outlets worldwide online including Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Books-A-Million.com, Powell’s or most other online distributors.

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4 comments to Author Interview: DH Brown

  • Anonymous  says:

    Readers you have just met one of the finest writers and human beings I have had the pleasure to know. Not only for his writing, but his service to this nation. He lives it like it is and tells it like it is. I have come to know a great many writers, some very famous names that you would know, and some lesser known but equally talented folks, but Dave is that type of writer who in my life I am proud an honored to call friend. If you don’t read a copy of his book then you are missing out on a part of life. Sound corny? Then don’t read it. You’ll be the looser, however if you like having your life enriched and want a little window into what is really about then sit down and enjoy his work.

    Don

  • Anonymous  says:

    I have known David (and his parents) since he was a kid and tracked him down in WA several years ago when his Dad was still around. We e-mail occasionally and always enjoy what he has to say. Great interview! Wish he could come to the Dallas area.

  • Tammy Marsh  says:

    Only one thing missing in this most excelent interview. Mr. Brown neglected to say his book is also a very wonderful love story. I love reading this author and am looking forward to his next book. Count me as a devoted fan.

  • Jeri Meadows  says:

    I just ran accross this interview while I was surfing. This author lives just a few miles from me and i first read his book from the local library. Now I’ve bought a copy and carry it with me everywhere in case a run into him and can get it signed. Fantastic read.

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