Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway: Bryan Healey

I am pleased to have Bryan Healey today on Curling Up by the Fire.  Bryan is here to discuss the release of his new novel, The Void (releases April 30th, 2012), as well as to share some of the research and inspiration that went into it and to share some future projects on which he is currently at work.  Here is a brief synopsis of The Void:

She believes I am all but dead.
But I can hear her...

I've been still for many years now, my eyes closed, my body sunken, my muscles wilted, a soft, seductive beep-beep-beep of life-sustaining machinery just behind my head. I don't know why they keep me here, or why they bother to keep me alive; and yet they do. And they come and go, night and day and night, men, women, children, even an occasional pet; nurses, doctors, family, friends, strangers; they talk to me rarely, sometimes to themselves, and frequently to each other, or to no one. And they have very much to say, I have found.

They don't know that I can hear them...
But I can.

Interview with Bryan Healey

1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?  How did you become interested in writing?
I have held a passion for storytelling for so long that I can't remember exactly what got it started, or when. I wrote short stories when I was barely old enough to walk, poetry when I was a pre-teen, and attempted my first novel at age fourteen. None of that early stuff was much good, of course (as expected), but the passion was there and it has never really waned. However, when choosing college programs at Northeastern University (my alma mater), I decided to go with Computer Science (a competing passion) and have worked as an engineer ever since, writing on the side all along.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel, The Void?
"The Void" is the bookend of a series of three works touching on the theme of death and consequences. It tells the story of a man named Max who has been trapped in a coma for a number of years, unable to move or feel, but inexplicably able to hear. He listens to his wife visit and talk with him, the nurses grumble about their commute and their lives, and to the doctor discuss his condition. For years he remains this way until his family decides to remove him from life support and allow him to die naturally; this prompts Max to recall his life of addiction and violence as he awaits the inevitable end of life.

3) What inspired you to write Void?  How much research was involved in the writing?
I have always been fascinated with the human perspective on death and consequences, and the various ways in which we cope (or choose not to cope) with our fears surrounding this mystery. "The Void" was a progression of that fascination by asking myself how I might react if I knew death was imminent but was powerless to stop it, or even say a proper goodbye to my loved ones. What would I think? What would I regret? How would I reflect on my life?

Because of the opinionated nature of this kind of piece, there was little research. There were some elements involving military rank and procedure that required verification, however.

4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel? 
Whenever writing a tragedy, the biggest challenge is avoiding a spiral into melodrama. I don't want to exaggerate anything; I just want to represent exactly how I imagine someone might react given a specific situation. To this end, I tried hard to write dialogue that was realistic, even if it meant omitting some description that might have been otherwise worthwhile to include.

5) Shaping characters is often a difficult task.  Who was the most fun to write about?  Which character presented the biggest challenge?
The most fun was shaping the character of Brian, the main protagonist's son. I intended to write him much like how I imagined I might react if my father were Max; thus, I was able to infuse the most of myself into his character, which can always be fun and, at times, illuminating.

The biggest challenge was Jenny, the main protagonist's wife. Having thankfully never gone through the loss of a significant other, it was difficult to imagine the roller-coaster of emotions, the tense, confused speech and the compulsion to apply significance to your loved one.

6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I don't really have any writing rituals. Because my writing is essentially a hobby, I do it whenever I have free time, often during lunch or early in the morning. But any free time will do; I never pass on an opportunity to create!

Three essentials for writing are: 1) Green tea, 2) Oranges, and 3) Quiet.

7) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future? What can fans expect next from you?  Are there other genres in which you are interested but haven't yet explored?
My next book is actually a significant departure from my usual work, and it has been a blast to work on thus far (approximately 75% complete with the first draft)! It is to be a multi-book fantasy epic, with the first book being titled "Kingdom of Ash." The series chronicles a future Earth, roughly 900 years following a monumental cataclysm of unknown origins that nearly annihilated humanity. In the intervening years since the disaster, humanity has slowly begun to rebuild, and by the time the story begins, small societies have sprung up, and politics, religion and culture is starting to meld. The struggle between these formations, however, threatens to induce a lot of infighting, as groups of people coalesce into cities and provinces.

I will be released a short story entitled "Alestha" in the coming weeks to kick-off the project, and the first book should be released something this fall or early winter.

8) Favourite authors? Role models?
Michael Crichton was my first author (and "Jurassic Park" was my first novel), and thus will probably always hold a very special place in my heart. I also always enjoy the techno-thrillers of Tom Clancy. However, I don't really have a "role model," by traditional definition. I feel I can learn of the craft from any writer worth reading.

My favorite book is absolutely "Brave New World." From my first read many years ago, the story captivated my attention, and still represents to me the gold standard for writing quality fantasy and dystopian drama. And recently, I have delved into the Harry Potter franchise (I am always years behind the times) and have developed a significant love for Rowling's writing style.

9) Do you have a pivotal point in your life, a point when you knew you would be a writer?  How did it develop?
As said elsewhere, I have nearly always wanted to write, so there was no point in history when I can say: "That's when I decided I wanted to be an author." I'm sure there was a time, in my early adolescence, when I wasn't certain that I needed to write, but I can't remember that time today.

10) What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
Travel. I have a personal goal of visiting all the countries of Europe before I'm 40. This passion is also my ultimate luxury, because it is unfortunately expensive. 

11) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
I am always craving feedback! If you read any of my works, and have any comments you feel like sharing, please do not hesitate! This includes criticism, however scathing; it is often a challenge to get real, honest input, and I've heard many readers express reluctance in contacting an author. But I say: Contact the author! The unbiased reader is the most valuable source of real growth.
Thank you so much Bryan for taking the time to answer these questions!!
Now the giveaway!! 
Because I haven't yet figured out quite how Rafflecopter works (due to a lack of time and an extremely busy work schedule), my amazing readers and guests will just have to fill out the entry form the old-fashioned way.  Sorry, folks!
RULES:  One lucky reader will win one (1) e-copy of The Void, your choice of formatting.
1)  In order to enter, please leave a comment and your email address below.
2) Contest is open internationally.
3) Contest ends 08 May 2012.


  1. This sounds like an interesting premise.

  2. Excellent interview! Sounds like a fascinating premise, Bryan!

  3. Thanks for the entertaining interview. I would love to read The Void and I am curious about your new series.