Monday, November 26, 2012

Open Mic Monday presents Author Brian MacLearn

Brian MacLearn stops by for a quick interview followed by an excerpt of his novel "Remember Me".  Drumroll, please, as he takes center stage for Open Mic Monday!  

Thank you, Brian, for taking the time to stop by Kisses, Caresses and Whispers in the Night today. I really appreciate your time. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your newest release?
"Remember Me" is much more than a story about time travel.  I describe it as my "morality story."  We are shaped by the events in our lives.  We also spend a fair share of time wondering "What if."  The story is wrought with intrigue and sub-plots, but at its core is love and commitment.  I wanted to explore the emotional aspects of what reliving a time in the past might feel like.  Andrew doesn't magically revert in age; he is still fifty and a total outsider.  He can live a new life of wealth, abandoning all those cherished people in his life, or he can test the powers of time by trying to help them.  
"Remember Me" has villains and heroes.  It also builds in intensity as the story progresses, right through to the last page.  I debated about including the events of 9/11.  I wanted the story to feel real.  My character did what I believe most of us would want to do, put in that situation.  Being a "good man" is not easy when you know what is going to happen.  We all dream about changing our past, but our past is who we are now.  We want things to turn out better, but what cost are we willing to pay for change?  Whom would you be willing to sacrifice?

What inspired this novel in particular?
Turning 50 got me thinking about everything I had accomplished…or didn't.  I've also been drawn to time-travel stories and movies my whole life.  I remember watching "The Time Traveler's Wife" and thinking it was a different take on time traveling.  It focused more on the emotion and not the science part.  A good friend once told me she wished she hadn't married and had kids with her ex husband.  Her statement made me think hard about "What if."  I couldn't imagine a life without one of my children.  My main character, Andrew, had to face that exact outcome when his youngest daughter was not born.  

Who is your favorite character in this novel and why?
Stacy.  She is Andrew's sister.  In his normal life, he didn't have much of a relationship with her.  Stacy was much older than he was.  Once Andrew returned to the past, he was the older brother.  Time really does change our perceptions.  In the story, she is the conscious, the motivator, and the spark Andrew needs to keep going.  She wasn't originally going to have a big part, but she just kept bugging me to write her in more…dang those big sisters.  LOL.

What comes first--characters or plot ideas?
What plot?  My first novel, "Our Heart," was entirely based upon song lyrics that I wrote.  My fianc√©e at the time suggested it would make a good Hallmark movie or book.  I was working on a different story.  I sat down at the computer and reread the lyrics, thought of a name, and began to type.  I never knew who would show up or where the story would go.  "Remember Me" was slightly different.  I knew how it began and how I wanted it to end.  The rest filled itself in as I went along.  I'm amazed by those who can use outlines.  I'm very orderly in my life, but my stories tell themselves, I am but a mere scribe.

How many books have you written?
2 published, one 2/3rds done, too many to count in various stages.
What is your favorite aspect about being a novelist?
I finally get to put down on paper what all the voices in my head keep shouting at me.  LOL.  I read a post on Facebook the other day, "If you hear voices in your head, and they talk like you aren't even there… you must be an author."  I believe every author is also an insatiable reader.  We love to get caught up in the story, to become the storyteller is an amazing blessing.  
What inspires you as an author? 
I believe inspiration comes when you least expect it, and from where you never believed it could.  I want to tell a good story.  When you're done reading my novel, I want you to say, "I'm glad I read that book."  That is my driving force, to make the story real, to make it resonate.

What draws you to this particular genre?
I write what needs to get out of my head; the genre takes care of itself when the novel is finished.  Neither of my novels has been easy to put into a category.  It may make it harder to define me, but it allows me to focus on a good idea, regardless of where it might best fit. 

Are there any other genres you can see yourself writing and why/why not?
Nothing is off-limits in my mind.  My next novel is an adult version of bullying.  It takes manipulation to a deadly extreme.  I think that what keeps me motivated is the ability to write what moves me.  I have pages full of ideas, spread across many different genres.   

To you, what's the most challenging aspect of being a published novelist and why?
I'm a drop in the water; someday I want to be a ripple if not a wave.  Every novel I write I want to make better than the last one.  It takes just as much work to build an audience as it does to write the novel.  The competition for readers is fierce.  The advent of the e-readers has opened the market for every aspiring novelist.  To gain the readers favor is the challenge facing all of us.  

How important is reader feedback to you? Do you let it deter you from writing what's in your heart?
Readers are whom we write for.  I take everything to heart that they have to say.  Creatively, I control the content, and it comes from my heart, but, if it doesn't connect with them, it's all for naught.  I know what I'm trying to say…do they?  I really believe my writing is a wonderful journey.  I can't make it without them on my side.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now with one person, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you take and why? (this is hypothetical by the way--I'm not a lotto winner! LOL)
I'm laughing…I'm sure I might have a different answer if I take more time to think about it.  That being said, the first thing that popped into my mind, a castle hopping trip around Scotland with Stephen King.  Can you imagine the stories waiting to be uncovered, not just in the history of the places we visit, but also from the depths of his mind.  The setting would be perfect.  Being able to go to sleep at night…that would be a different story.

Are you more of a chef or a takeout person?
At this point in my life, I'm more takeout.  Occasionally, I enjoy taking the time and making something special.  I have always wanted to take gourmet-cooking classes.  It's only me now.  Not by choice, mind you, so going all out for just yourself isn't very practical.  I hope someday, I'll get the chance to exhibit my culinary skills again. 

Tell us 5 little known facts about yourself.
I'm a lousy artist, but I can draw a mean snoopy.  I used to get requests in high school to draw him for posters and banners.
I'm usually the first one to cry at sad/emotional movies.  I was born with an over-active empathy gland, which makes in necessary to be in reach of a box of Kleenexes.
I'm a decent singer, and I have written the lyrics to over 30 songs, some of which have been recorded as demos in Nashville. 
I love to spend time in the Minnesota Boundary Waters.  There is something about the remoteness and beauty that draws me there. Canoeing and portaging gear between lakes, camping without phones, electricity, and modern conveniences, and getting back to nature is good for the soul.
I've been bowling in a league ever since I was in 4th grade.  A couple years back I finally rolled my first 300.  I'm still waiting to get my first hole-in-one on the golf course. 

Books available at 
Brian MacLearn
PO Box 299
Waverly, IA 50677

Remember Me excerpt

As I sat at my kitchen table waiting for “Time,” to once again count down.  I couldn’t stop my last fifty years of memories from taking a firm hold of my thoughts. It had only been twenty-five countable years, but I lived them twice. It was sad, but the last twenty-five years nearly erased the happiness and love I once shared with Amy and my family. Every single day, I thought about her, remembered her, and loved her. Her image in my mind had began to ever-so-slowly fade away at the edges until only her bright blue eyes could be recalled with total certainty. Twenty-five years had obliterated the photo I carried in my wallet. The day I unknowingly ran it through the washing machine, was the first day I had seriously thought of suicide since being banished to this hell and loosing Emily. 
In roughly three hours, a wormhole would open, hopefully. I would finally be able to set right, what once had been blissfully good and then destroyed by me.  None of this would matter anymore, life would return to the path and time it was destined to follow. I had to believe this! I had no other choice; the alternative was simply not conceivable.  My precious daughter, Emily, had a right to live--even if I must now die to save her. This was not a knock against Carter, Stephanie, or even delicate Tricia, all of whom I had come to love from afar. In a strange way they were still a part of me. But; I had been a part of Emily’s life; there at her birth, her first steps the highs and lows she went through, and above all else, I lived and relished the bond that grows between a father and his daughters. 
Samantha was equally important to me, and I would have been just as lost without her. Her life was altered too, gone was the husband she had once worshiped, and who loved her with the same passion I recognized in Amy and me. This time around, she had no longing for a relationship as she worked her way through medical school. It meant that Megan, my granddaughter would never be born in this time. One brief snippet of time altered the lives of so many. I could be wrong. It wasn’t too late for Sam to have children. Time was about to end for me…maybe. In a few hours I would know for certain. Once I passed into the wormhole, I would never know if Sam’s life would ever include the same happiness she once had in my life. I could only pray that going back would reset the world back to normal. If this was an alternate universe, then I prayed to God to grant her love and happiness.
I was proud of Samantha then and even now. They were two different people. Say what you will, but environment does shape your personality. I’ve seen it firsthand. The easy laughter my Sam had was replaced by the sheer determination to succeed. It was always lying just under her exterior, but in this time it became her driving force. I didn’t rule out happiness for her, but it wouldn’t come easy. Tami seemed to have found a measure of peace in her life. I was grateful for this. It was one small token of change that seemed to be a bright spot. She turned her attention to Tricia and became her guardian, her light, and many times her very will to keep going. I would never know all the intricacies that made up their lives. I was still an outsider. I couldn’t measure their added happiness, or the new nightmares they faced because of me. I was only able to learn second-hand from my parents and sister what their lives were like.
Author bio:  Brian MacLearn graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Business.  He is a lifetime resident of Iowa, currently living in Waverly.  He has two daughters and three granddaughters.  He has had poetry published, and written song lyrics that have been recorded as demos in Nashville.  He has two published novels, "Our Heart" and "Remember Me."  "Our Heart" was a 2011 Readers Favorite finalist in Women's fiction.  "Remember Me" is a 2012 Readers Favorite Bronze medalist in Science Fiction/romance.   

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