Hi Michael! Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m working on a lot of different things. A few screenplays, a few books. I’m working right now on a book called HOOKED that I basically hope will be the anti-TWILIGHT. I’m not one of those Twilight haters who rabidly stalk the ‘net, ready to pounce on anyone who so much as mentions sparkly vampires, but I DO think that a story involving a love triangle between vampires and high schoolers could have been much, much grittier and even (gasp!) scary. That book should be out by the end of the year – hopefully before Thanksgiving.
Could you tell us what a ‘typical’ writing session is like for you? Do you have any quirks or habits when you write?
A typical writing session for me involves just sitting down and writing. I surf the web from time to time to do research or just to keep my brain from overheating, but usually I’m a pretty boring person. The only time I change much from that system is when I have a big deadline or an idea that I just HAVE to get down. Then I go and pick up a twelve pack of Diet Dr. Pepper and a bag of those pink and white frosted circus cookies. My wife knows to go to bed without me when she sees them!
Is planning and research an important part of your writing process or do you prefer to start writing and see where it takes you?
It really depends. My most recent horror novel, APPARITION (which has been a bestselling supernatural horror novel pretty much since it came out), required a lot of research. It touches on the grim topic of filicide, and I wanted to make sure I got the figures and facts correct. Another long-time bestseller of mine, THE HAUNTED, was one of those where I pretty much just sat down and wrote whatever poured out of that messy little mind of mine. Both ways are fun, and the variety keeps the job interesting.
Are there any other writers who you really admire? What was the last thing you read and would you recommend it?
I really admire Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Both have heavily influenced my writing, and Dean is one of the nicest people I’ve met. He’s super busy, but has put up with me calling his house a few times to ask him writing questions, and even recommended me to his agent (though the agent didn’t end up signing me). Both Dean and King are great storytellers, great craftsmen; there’s a reason they’ve been so successful for such a long period of time!
As for the last thing I read… that’s a tough one. I tend to have several books going on in rotation at any one time. Right now I’m reading King’s UNDER THE DOME, A PLANET CALLED TREASON by Orson Scott Card, a book on the Mormon settlement of Utah that horror mastermind Rick Hautala loaned me (and probably thinks he’ll never get back), another book called THE UNINVITED, and I just finished NIGHTWORLD by F. Paul Wilson. Whew! And they’re all good for different reasons, though whether I’d recommend any or all of them depends on whom I’m talking to!
Finally, do you have any hints and tips for other aspiring writers?
Tip one: WRITE. Sitting around saying, “I want to be a writer” is the dumbest thing ever. Writing isn’t like brain surgery: no one gets it wrong if you screw up, so dive in and just do it! Writing is almost exclusively on the job training. And learn your craft. I do consultations for people through my website (michaelbrentcollings.com), looking at their books or scripts, and I’m constantly startled by the number of people who know how to find a good story, know how to tell a good story, but have no idea of the proper use of commas or how to spell. It doesn’t matter how creative you are, if no one can understand your writing (or get past the boatload of typos and grammatical errors), then no one will read you. Period. You want to do this as a profession, then be professional.
And last: don’t give up. Giving up is the only 100% guaranteed way to fail. I have sold screenplays, had a movie come out this year and another one this year. I’ve written numerous bestselling novels and have gotten rave reviews from big-time writers and reviewers. I also have well over 10,000 rejection emails telling me I’m not good enough or interesting enough or smart enough to succeed. You have to take those rejections and use them as opportunities to improve rather than excuses to quit. Stumbling blocks become stepping stones with the right attitude!
Michael’s books are available on Amazon.com: