Today, I am interviewing John Brinling, author of
The Ghost Of A Flea.
Tell us about yourself, your background, (e.g. where you were born, live? Your work prior to becoming a writer)
I have been writing all of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. “Black Dawn.” It dealt with segregation and the KKK. Whatever happened to it I don’t know.
Since then, earning a living has preempted long periods of my life when I wrote very little. My wife and I are both in data processing (IT nowadays) and we usually work long hours when we are on a contract, which meant I spent little time writing fiction when gainfully employed. The birth of my daughter offered me another excuse for not writing, but that’s what it was: an excuse. Writing is hard. But it’s in my DNA and I keep returning to it, despite some part of me that prefers the lazy life. However, not writing is unthinkable, and I am constantly exploring ideas even when I’m not committing them to paper.
I lived and worked in Europe for seven years. I met my wife In Italy where we both worked for the same company, and were married in 1975. The contract we were working on ended that year and we took two years off to live in England, in a 300 year old farmhouse in Wiltshire. It was in that farmhouse that I wrote “The Ghost Of A Flea,” as well as another book titled “Quarantine,” which is a science fiction thriller.
“The Ghost” has a strong autobiographical component. I was a programmer/analyst. The office ambience in the novel is similar to life in my New York office, although the intrigues were of an entirely different nature. I had a good friend who lived in Sparta. I lived for a time near the George Washington Bridge. The building manager was an Irishman, who became a good friend, and an integral character in the book.
“Quarantine” is set in East Africa, where my wife and I vacationed, and I drew liberally on what we read, saw, and experienced.
I had an agent back then who marketed both books, and came very close to selling them to both Doubleday and St. Martins. Unfortunately he died before completing the sale and I put the books on a shelf and forgot about them for 35 years. Only this year did I resurrect them and publish them on Amazon’s Kindle and Smashwords.
In 1977, my wife and I returned to the states and founded our IT consulting firm, Brinling Associates. For the next fifteen years we worked hard building our business. I wrote one novel during that time, a book titled “Alone,” which dealt with a man in an irreversible coma who is aware of what is happening around him, but is unable to communicate with the real world. Unfortunately, most of that book is lost.
In 1990, during a down period in our business activities, I wrote several other novels which I am attempting to bring out of retirement. These novels were also put on the shelf when circumstances re-ignited our business opportunities. One book – “The Watcher,” a horror thriller – is already self-published. The other is a much larger work, a rural mystery series, that I’m still working on.
As you can see, writing books is one thing, marketing quite another. I am perhaps the world’s worst marketer, which helps explain why my writings have spent most of their lives on a shelf in my home in Vermont staring out at me asking “Why?”
For the past few years I have been writing screenplays, which are more bite-sized writing efforts. I have done fairly well in some contests, but am still waiting to be discovered. The small royalty check I earned from Amazon this quarter is the only money I’ve ever earned from my fiction writing.
My writing is pure escapism. When I sit down to write, I embark on an adventure. I let things happen and I let the characters be who they are. Since I strongly avoid outlines, I am as surprised by events as I hope the reader is. Pulling together loose ends is a subject for revision, which I do endlessly. This undoubtedly makes for more work and takes me longer to “finish” something, but it seems to be the best, the only, way for me. It is the candy bar just out of reach that keeps me at the keyboard.
My background illustrates my chaotic approach to life. I have been at different stages a pharmacist, a pharmacologist, a tech writer, a programmer/analyst, a business consultant, a business owner, a teacher, a novelist and a screenwriter. At one time I thought it perfectly acceptable, if not desirable, to change jobs/professions every year or so. I didn’t worry about the future, assuming I would always find a way to muddle through.
I’m still muddling through.
Tell us about your book "The Ghost Of A Flea" :
The novel is a mystery/suspense/action/ thriller that tests the endurance and love of a man and a woman, and threatens the security of a great city. It is a tale of greed, passion and death centered on a painting of haunting beauty and mystifying significance. “The Ghost Of A Flea,” painted by William Blake 200 years ago.
Time: 1975. Location: New York City.
The murder of Roger’s musician friend, Gideon Whiting, turns Roger’s world up-side-down. His wife, Natalie, lies to him. His best friend, Ted, lies to him. His boss and U.S. Senate candidate, Charlie Holt, lies to him. And Lieutenant Tarrington, a homicide detective, is convinced Roger killed Gideon—but is Tarrington who he claims to be, or is he lying, too?
Peggy Curtis, the blond bombshell who dropped into Roger’s life one snowy night after he left Gideon’s apartment, might be the only person who can unravel the Gordian knot facing Roger, yet she has serious credibility problems, and is the last person he would want to rely on with his life and freedom on the line.
The drug cartel masterminding much of the chaos seeks an address book it thinks Roger took from Gideon. As their ruthless pursuit intensifies, the police learn of the book and join the chase. The problem is, Roger doesn’t have what they want and he must get it before they decide he is expendable.
In a climax not unlike the best of today’s action thrillers—Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, others—Roger and Peggy face-off against the surprise mastermind of the drug cartel in a fight to the death!
How long did it take to write the book?
I wrote the first version of the novel in 1975 over a six month period. I’ve tinkered with it over the years, but never really altered the plot line.
What inspired you to write the book?
I have been writing all my life and this was my first serious attempt at a novel in many years. The settings and main character are somewhat autobiographical as described above.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
My writing is pretty much all consuming. I get up, sit down at my computer, check my email, sports reports, etc., and plunge in. I squeeze in my other activities around my writing, not the other way around. I take frequent breaks to replenish the nerve endings, and must say my most creative time is the early morning.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope first they will be entertained. And when finished satisfied and uplifted that they made the journey.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc.
Any other links or info you'd like to share?
I have three other books out on Amazon Kindle:
My favorite authors are: Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie, Alestair MacLean, Dean Koontz, Robert Ludlum, JK Rawling, John Grisham, Robert Parker, Harper Lee.
In my leisure, I follow politics, football, watch movies, write screenplays, worry about my daughter who lives in NYC. I subscribe to a lot of magazines and spend a lot of time reading those, partly because of interest, partly looking for ideas.
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and I look forward to reading your book!
Now, for the give away, three (3) lucky winners will win a copy (e-book) of The Ghost Of A Flea.
How to win? Just follow me and leave a comment with your name and email address or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject "The Ghost of a Flea giveaway". Give away will end on December 20 and winners will be announced on December 21.