Q: How did the idea for Brain Sections develop?
A: I was homeless and hanging around a book store, and I saw this amazing photographic book titled Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals by Christopher Payne and Oliver Sacks. It got me thinking about what kind of story could use an abandoned asylum as a setting. Some pictures are available on the web that give you that same eerie sense of there being a thousand stories… if only the walls could talk.
Q: Did you have to do much research?
A: I got into looking up things online about zombies. The homeless lifestyle stuff I got from my own mid-recession research. Sadly, many of the things written about in the novel happened to me or someone else I know.
Q: One of the first pages of the book says something like: “…even some famous people were homeless. Like who?
A: Lots of people! It seems to be a rite of passage for artists, for some reason. I know of a lot of creative people myself who found themselves homeless.
Q: Do you hope that Brain Sections will make people more aware of the struggles of the homeless?
A: Yes. I think that the homeless are lumped into two groups. Either insane or drug addicts. This stereo type has helped people to throw up there hands and give up on everyone who is on the street, but as you and I know, it can happen to lots of people who are neither insane or drug addicts.
Q: How do you get your ideas for the characters? Are they from real life?
A: The characters are composites. Most times you don’t know enough about any one person to guess how they would react in any given situation, so composites help.
Q: What is your main aim in writing to entertain or inform.
A: I think information is more interesting and palatable when you make it entertaining. But there is a line that you must not cross, if you do than you do a disservice to the characters by making their situation comical.
Q: How much restraint did you use in writing your novel? Is there any situation that you felt that if you went all out and graphically told the details of the scene, that your reader would be turned off?
A: Of course. I had to do that in editing. If the scene was too raw with emotion, or too one sided, or too forceful. Also since many people think of zombies as sci fi, I was tempted to indulge in describing them as monsters. But that was not the focus of the book, the zombies were guinea pigs in an experiment that went wrong. The monsters were the people who put them in that situation. Showing them as affectionate characters, who occasionally made cameos during the book, was an effort to show how resilient people can be. That effort of trying to overcome extremely depressing living conditions and being resilient can be also carried over to homeless people on the street and in shelters.
Q: But you have to take a closer look to see that.
Brain Sections is now selling on Smashwords.com for $4.99!