|Brothers Washburn - Recovering lawyers|
Berk is in white, Andy in green - PITCH GREEN!
Ever since the blog mansion appeared in Better Blogs and Mansions, I’ve had plenty of authors dropping by for free food and ice-sculpting lessons. Yesterday, the Brothers Washburn, Andy and Berk, showed up about an hour after the sheriff served me a legal love note from my neighbor.
Johnny: Hey guys. Thanks for coming. Good to see you Andy. Happy St. Patricks’ Day.
Brothers Washburn: He’s Andy. I’m Berk.
J: Oh. Sorry, I’m distracted with this summons and to be honest a little hungover. I had a pre-St. Patrick’s Day kegger / jello-shot thing last night. Well yesterday and last light. And the day before that. But not today. Nope. I knew you guys were coming over today for your Blog Tour of PitchGreen and I made sure that everyone was driven off the property like naked staggering cattle before you got here. Your book came out just yesterday and today’s St. Patty’s Day. It’s all about Green.
BW: We’ve been on blog tour all month. The internet’s a big place. Lots of travelling.
J: I bet. Hey, you should know, there’s a real ugly rumor floating around that you two are lawyers. I socked the guy in the mouth who said it, but you should know it’s out there. You guys are just getting started in the writing business. No need to smear your names with such malicious gossip. But I did hear you guys are brothers? How’s that working out?
BW: We are two of nine sons (sixteen children) who grew up in the Mojave desert near Death Valley. For about 35 years, Berk has been a business lawyer working for international commercial finance companies in the mid-west. For about 25 years, Andy has been a trial practice lawyer in Southern California. The rest of our family all have honest jobs.
J: You really are lawyers? Wow... I can’t believe you’d admit to that. You got guts, I gotta say that about you. I wish you luck. So how’d you get into writing fiction?
BW: We have always been story tellers, first to our siblings, then to our own children (Berk has eight kids / Andy has six kids), and now to our grandkids. Scary stories have always been a family specialty. While we have kept our law licenses current, we are now writing fiction full time. As lawyers, we were always solving other people’s problems. After we each moved to Colorado, we talked for some time about starting a business together where we only had to solve our own problems. We both have many years of formal writing experience. A few years ago, Berk started writing a young adult science fiction series, so when Andy also tried his hand at writing fiction, it didn’t take long to come together as The Brothers Washburn on a young adult horror series.
J: Is there really a law that says my friends and I can’t be naked on my own property?
BW: That’s not an area of the law that either of us has been practicing in, but there is a gaggle of lawyers out there who would be glad to handle that type of question for you. We’re phasing out of the practice of the law to be fiction writers. When pressed, we tell people we’re recovering lawyers. Otherwise, we just say we are starving artists, trying to make a living selling fiction. Some say that’s what we did as lawyers, but this is different—it doesn’t pay as well. Besides, this way we tend to get a lot more sympathy, and it has been a while now since either of us has gotten any death threats.
J: Who was the favorite growing up?
BW: For ease in managing her household, Mom divided up her kids into two groups: the big kids and the little kids. Berk was the oldest of the big kids and Andy was the oldest of the little kids, so we each had a lot of discretionary latitude in our separate domains. Mom delighted in scaring the wits out of all her children, so we all got equal treatment in that area. As we got older, we realized that Dad was the soft touch, and it was better to wait for him to come home at night before asking for anything. We all felt like the favorite when dealing with Dad.
J: Why haven’t one of you killed the other?
BW: As kids, the big kids played a lot of practical jokes on the little kids, and Andy took the brunt of a lot of it, but fortunately, he survived. As he grew up, he got to be pretty tough. Nobody messes with him now.
J: Do either of you have any plans to kill the other? Maybe before the next book is released?
BW: As adults, we each married a strong minded woman, and our wives have played significant roles as managing partners in the building of our book business. They are in regular communication with each other, and it’s not possible for either brother to have a secret agenda for long without the intervention of the managing partners.
J: So both being lawyers obsessed with killing each other, it makes sense that you’d write horror. What’s Pitch Green about?
BW: Pitch Green is the first novel of The Dimensions in Death YA horror series. Based on a scary story we used to tell our siblings and friends as kids, this first book combines horror, suspense and mystery at a breathtaking pace, as our protagonists battle to stay alive against an unseen evil presence lurking in an old, deserted mansion in a small, isolated, desolate mining town, deep in the Mojave Desert. The mining town, Trona, really exists and is appropriately located near Death Valley, where life is the exception rather than the rule.
J: Am I in your book, or did you use a less interesting protagonist?
BW: In Pitch Green, we meet two teenagers, Camm and Cal, who are destined by their wit, pluck and luck (not always good) to become the balancing force in this world against monstrous predators that keep showing up around the strange, deserted mansion. They must make a stand against the mansion’s bloodthirsty guardian, and any alien visitors who might want to come through the mansion in search of easy prey, and the U.S. Federal Government (the biggest predator of all), who is using the mansion to access unlimited natural resources. Camm is the brains, Cal is the muscle and together they make a formidable team when they decide to work together. They are joined by FBI Agent Linda Allen, who is smart, resourceful and not easily intimidated by those protecting the government’s secrets.
In this first book, our heroes are introduced to the mansion and its guardian while being hurled from one scene of horror to the next. They barely have time to catch their breath or scratch the surface of what is happening, and they do not understand the nature of what they are really facing. Though their intentions are good, by the end of the first book, they have left a doorway to horror wide open and unguarded. Pitch Green is the opening act of a long and complex tale in which Camm, Cal and Agent Allen will be explorers in the dimensions in death.
J: What do you have against mansions?
BW: Mansions, like lawyers, just naturally have a bad reputation, and we couldn’t resist taking advantage of an easy target.
J: I assume the series will continue even if one of you has a sudden and mysterious accident, leaving the other with full legal rights to all royalties and considerations that are outlined in a notarized document secreted in a safety deposit box. Where will the survivor take the story?
BW: In the second book, Mojave Green, Camm and Cal must deal with the consequences of unwanted visitors from other dimensions finding their way into this world. Because secrecy suits the government’s purposes, the world as a whole is blissfully ignorant of the battle being fought and of the horrors our heroes are facing. In the third book, Toxic Green, and subsequent books, the battle with death continues to expand into new dimensions as Camm, Cal and Agent Allen learn the purpose of the mansion. This story is ultimately as large as the multiverse and as deadly as the fiercest predators that hunt its infinite landscape. In their fight to save the world, Camm and Cal must come to terms with the predator within themselves and must recognize their own capacity for doing harm and causing death. The scariest monsters don’t always come from other dimensions.
|This is scary. |
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J: Being lawyers, it’s natural that you are familiar with evil – cold, dark, destructive, hellish evil, but when you have to go outside your profession, what kind of research do you rely on as writers?
BW: Research is important to us in two areas: theoretical science and local geography. This series is an ongoing horror story based on principals of science rather than on demons, devils or magical creatures, so some understanding of the extremes of scientific theory is necessary and fun. But, Dimensions in Death is not a science fiction series with a few scary scenes. It is horror, suspense and fright in a fast pace narrative with a little science sprinkled on for spice, as the truth is gradually discovered by our heroes. Separately, the local geography plays a critical role in setting the mood of the tale. Trona, California is a real place in this world located in a desolate region of the Mojave Desert by Death Valley, and we try to keep the series settings in this world as real as possible.
J: How can anyone affix a $10,000 monetary punitive damage demand to a 200 decibel banjo rendition of “My Sharona?” How do people even measure that?
BW: In the 12 Step AA (Attorneys Anonymous) Program, we have been warned that even the smell of this kind of question could plunge us both back deep into addiction, so we must politely refuse to indulge you. Even a single exception could be too much.
J: Sorry, never mind… uhm, so when you’re not lawyering, you know, doing stuff like helping ignorant neighbors sue perfectly nice writers on trumped up noise and indecency complaints, what’s your writing process?
BW: Andy doesn’t like having other people around him when he is writing, especially when he is creating new material. There is no real reason for this, just sometimes people bug him. Berk has to organize his surrounding work environment. Once everything around him is in order, then he can detach from the world and write. If Andy hits a tough spot in the story development, it is almost always because of outside distractions. If he can get rid of the distractions around him, he can keep writing. If Berk hits a tough spot, he doesn’t try to force it. He stops, leaves the house, picks up some fast food, and then he can come back refreshed and ready to move the story forward. He finds that fresh ideas just come naturally when he is eating
J: What advice do you have?
BW: 1. Start writing by experimenting with story ideas and word usage, 2. Keep writing all the time, 3. Experience all the good you can find (or want to find) in life, and 4. Get to know lots of different kinds of people.
J: Not about writing, though that’s good advice for authors. I mean about my neighbor? Should I settle or counter-sue his ass back to the stone age? He has this one yappy dog that never shuts up. Can I use that?
BW: Though your question is enticing, we must say ‘no thank you’ to this kind of temptation.
J: What are you contractually obligated to say about your publisher, Jolly Fish Press?
BW: Jolly Fish Press is a great publisher and is an incredible resource for more traditional industry marketing practices as well as rapidly developing social media opportunities. We are using Jolly Fish Press, because they know the publication and media industries, and they are up to speed on the best practices in a rapidly changing international book market.
J: I don’t have that clause in my contract. Looks like you slipped up.
BW: You don't? Maybe that's why your book isn't coming out until next year.
J: Now I'm going to cry into my beer.
BW: At least it's green beer.
J: 'Tis the season. So, where can we find you on the net?
Publicist: D. Kirk Cunningham- (email@example.com)
J: You hear that? That's my neighbor's dog. Let's sue!
BW: Can't help you. We've given that up.