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Adventures in Writing » Interviews » Interview with Michaelbrent Collings

Interview with Michaelbrent Collings

This time around I am interviewing Michaelbrent Collings, author of “RUN“, “Rising Fears“, and “The Meridians“. I took the liberty of swiping his Biography from Amazon:

Michaelbrent Collings is a novelist, screenwriter, martial artist, practicing lawyer (eek!), and has a killer backhand on the badminton court.

He published his first “paying” work – a short story for a local paper – at the age of 15. He won numerous awards and scholarships for creative writing while at college, and subsequently became the person who had more screenplays advance to quarterfinals and semifinals in the prestigious Nicholls Screenwriting competition in a single year than anyone else in the history of the competition.

He has written numerous novels, including Billy: Messenger of Powers, RUN, and The Loon. In addition, he has also written dozens of non-fiction articles which have appeared in periodicals on several continents.

Michaelbrent has also optioned and done rewrites for screenplays for major Hollywood production companies, and is currently developing several movies and television shows.

Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that’s a low bar to set), and also cooler than he is.

He consoles himself by hanging out with his imaginary friends…or at least, he used to, until they moved and failed to provide a forwarding address or any contact information. If you know of the whereabouts of either “Jib-jab the Wonder Dolphin” or “Mr. Sniffle-ifficus,” please contact Michaelbrent immediately.

Now on to the interview:

Where do you generally prefer to go when you write?
I prefer to “go” in the bathroom. I tried peeing while typing, but the wife complains about the mess. Oh! You mean LOCATION. Well, I generally either write at home, or at the neighborhood bookstore. Something about being among all those books is always inspiring. If neither of those places is available for whatever reason, then I am pretty happy just about anywhere, as long as there’s a plug outlet for my computer (and wi-fi…I wither and die without wi-fi!).

How long have you been writing?
Since I was four. I won’t tell you how long ago THAT was, but I will say I graduated high school, college, and law school in the interim. So I’m at least 16.

What is the last book you read?
I just finished a book by Dean Koontz called Winter Moon. It was a lot of fun. Not his best work (that would be “Lightning”, or maybe “Phantoms”, or perhaps “Intensity”, or maybe “Mister Murder”, or…), but definitely better than getting kicked in the groin by a pointy-toed boot.

How many books, and in which genre, have you written?
I’ve written (according to my writer page) twelve books and two short stories. As for genre, they are all over the place. “RUN”, my bestselling work (it has been as high as No. 61 on’s Kindle store, out of over 800,000 novels, plus countless magazines, games, and blogs) is a suspense thriller sci-fi romance action horror book (yes, I have a problem sticking to a single genre). “Perdition” my most recent novel, is a more straight-up horror thriller. I’ve also written a YA fantasy called “Billy: Messenger of Powers”, several horror novels, a couple of thrillers, some epic sci-fi…the list goes on, but I can see you’ve got that glazed look in your eye and a little drool happening, so I’ll stop now.

What inspired you to become a writer?
My dad. He was an English professor at Pepperdine University, and head of their Creative Writing department for about three decades. He was and continues to be my biggest supporter and best teacher. And my mom was and is just as inspirational to me. She is always rooting for me, always willing to read the next thing I crank out.

Tell us three random things about yourself.
1) I was once recruited by military intelligence to be a “covert operative” (no, I’m not kidding). This sounded very cool and glamorous and I seriously thought about it…until I realized that they were asking me to be a spy, and spies (to my understanding) are people who lie for a living until they are caught and killed. So I became a lawyer instead, where I could still do all the lying, but had less chance of suffering a fatal case of death.
2) I am a black belt martial artist and one of my books is about how to teach martial arts. It is called (ingeniously) “The Art of Teaching Martial Arts”.
3) I got a Christmas present from Dean Koontz last year. Yes, THAT Dean Koontz. How cool is THAT?

What do you most enjoy about writing?
The writing. The adventure of it all. I love to sit down and turn a blank page (or white computer screen, as the case may be) into a tale that will hopefully have people on the edges of their seats. It’s a tremendous rush to read something of mine to someone and see them really disappear into the story. Too fun.

What steps do you take in starting a new book?
I usually brainstorm for a few days, taking walks, watching movies, reading other books, then literally pace around until something comes to me. I look like Rain Man, walking around in my backyard mumbling to myself until all of a sudden the Heavens open, the muse whispers daintily in my ear, and the idea is born. Then I may outline, or I may not. It depends on the complexity of the story. Some stories, like my books “RUN” and “The Meridians”, are extremely intricate and I have to map out the proceedings or I’ll get lost. Others are less complicated, so I can just turn my characters loose and follow them where they lead me.

What is the best writing advice you ever received?
Two best pieces of advice:
1) Imagine every word you write costs you a thousand dollars. It really went a long way in helping me to streamline my writing and cut out extra garbage that was cluttering up my prose.
2) WRITE. Whether you’re a great, seasoned writer, or a relative newb, the one thing that guarantees you will never write anything of import is if you never write anything at all. Writers write. Period.

What are you currently working on writing?
I just finished a book called “Perdition”. It’s a fun book about a man whose family suddenly tries to kill him. He has to find out why, and has to stay out of their clutches long enough to find his pregnant wife (whom they have kidnapped). It was a lot of fun to write, and it literally just went “live” (meaning you can buy it…and really, I recommend you do just that…all the cool kids are doing it) a short while ago, so right now I’m taking a break. Then I’m going to start work on a screenplay and probably sometime after that will get to work on a sequel to my bestselling YA fantasy “Billy: Messenger of Powers”.

What motivates you to write?
The fame, riches, and glory. Also, if I don’t write I get cranky.

What advice would you give a new writer?
WRITE. I know I said that already, but it’s true. “Writer’s block” is, I’ve found, mostly just a little voice in our heads saying that what we’re working on isn’t “good enough.” So it’s not so much a lack of ideas of what to write as it is self-consciousness about the QUALITY of what we are writing. You have to be able to tell that voice to shut up. You may write some – or even a lot of – crap, but hey! That’s what God invented rewrites for!

What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?
That it is awesome. And also that writing is sexy. At least, that’s what my wife tells me. And also my mom, but that’s a whole other (very disturbing) story. Ha!

How many drafts do you usually have before deciding it’s done?
Just enough.

What would you do differently if you we just starting out today to become a writer?
If I were just starting out today the thing I’d want to do differently is start out earlier than today. By which I mean that one key to success in this field is getting as much done as you can. Start now! Don’t wait! Do it, do it, do it!

What issues or challenges do you struggle with the most?
Not drinking too many hot chocolates in the bookstore cafe. They go straight to my hips. And stomach. And legs. And….
Also, updating my website. I love to write, but writing html code about what I’m writing is significantly less fun. BUT it’s part of the reality of writing in this century: we aren’t just writers anymore, we’re also marketers and promoters. So having a website, a blog, a Facebook presence, a Twitter feed….it’s all kind of a chore sometimes, but it is also a crucial part of connecting with and creating an audience.

© 2011, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.

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