Q: How did you come up with the character Vic Jones in Brain Sections?
A: Vic was vaguely based on someone I knew at the homeless shelter, but I had to fill in a lot of details myself. I copied a lot of his speech patterns and what I thought his thinking processes were. Just the basics, the real person kept his ‘cards close to the vest’ and I didn’t get to know him well until after I wrote the book.
Q: Did you start out writing with a clear idea about what was going to happen in the story or did it just evolve?
A: I didn’t do an outline or anything like that. It was more a project to do as I sat up at night trying not to fall asleep when I was on the streets, so I was very loose about what the plot was going to be. Each time I’d write a scene, I had some idea about how it was to unfold and I would try to leave some tangle that needed solving in the next writing session. It gave me something to muse on during the day.
Q: In a few words, describe Vic Jones.
A: He is a responsible guy that gets no help, initially, in saving his friend from this quirky zombie experiment. Maybe it can be chalked up to pure stubbornness, but he then gets into all kinds of disguises and meets up with some strange characters in his quest to save his friend. He is a hero, because he never gives up trying and has a strong sense of what is fair and what is unfair.
Q: I think the parts of the book where he is interacting with his co-worker, Emily Walters, and his some-time girlfriend, Wanda Cummings, are the most hilarious. The scenes where he is oiling Miss Emily’s office chair and asking Wanda about how to pick up guys when he is dressed in drag are incredibly funny.
A: Yeah. I wanted to make some of the scenes light to balance out some of the seriousness of the message of the novel. Emily and Wanda are good examples of females that are repressing some of their real selves, and Vic is kind of blindsided by what these women reveal about themselves to him. He’s kind of old-fashioned, so his reactions to certain situations were amusing.
Q: Where did the idea for Vic’s friend, Teddy, come from?
A: Vic was such a serious guy that he needed a comical side kick. Teddy was great for me, because, when a scene would start to slow down, I’d just have Teddy show up and cause some kind of ruckus.
Q: Some writers talk about character transitions and how their protagonist evolves over the course of the story. Did Vic Jones change from what he was like as the story progressed?
A: I think Vic was solid to begin with, so I didn’t want to change that. But, along the way, Vic developed a more flexible attitude about life’s possibilities and became more accepting of the things that can’t be controlled. I think he matured a bit.
Q: Why did you write Brain Sections?
A: I wanted to show the interactions between homeless people, the support and craziness, and between the homeless and those who have never been homeless. To see out of the eyes of someone who never quite fit in and lost all he had, looking at those who in some ways have lost themselves in order to keep their positions in life. And I also wanted to show life in the homeless shelter and on the streets in a realistic way, from the view point of the homeless.
Q: Is there a sequel in the works?
A: I’ve done an outline about how Vic gets to put some of his ideas about improving the shelter into action. Of course, there will be opposition and conflict to his ideas, but that’s what makes fiction interesting.