Interview with Stephen T. Brophy

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I think more than anything, it's my kid. Sometimes because he's the one waking me up, others because I have to wake him up. And beyond that, because everything I do, especially getting my ass to work, is ultimately for him and for my wife, to make sure the life we're making keeps moving on an upswing. My day job is in a volatile and unstable business, TV production, where I'm essentially only ever a contract employee. So I need to maximize the time and effort I'm willing to put into that work so that I can keep getting hired. So far, so good.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I'm working. Or spending as many waking seconds as possible with my family. Or stealing moments for myself. Y'know, the usual. I also like TV.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly through links from things I've already read and enjoyed. I'm currently writing in a pretty specific subgenre, superhero fiction, and I've discovered a treasure trove of "comic book" prose in my wanderings through the Amazonian wilderness. There are so many inexpensive undiscovered gems out there, and so far it's been filling my e-reading time quite satisfactorily.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember writing and illustrating a kind of kids' book version of "Jaws" in a purple-bound spiral notebook in second grade. The title, the characters, some of the incidents were straight out of the Benchley novel, and the movie. Only mine had a landshark. Then I wrote something called "Inspector Pluto," about a dog detective. It also borrowed heavily from The Pink Panther films, Get Smart, and obviously Disney. But it was years before McGruff the Crime Dog.
What is your writing process?
I sit down and I write. If I walk away with three good paragraphs or ten so-so pages, I can feel equally accomplished. It's the getting it down that's the real hurdle to clear. You can always "fix it in post" as we say in Hollywood. Beyond that, my process involves either pure in-the-moment inspiration and a mad dash for the keyboard or mulling something over until it's half-written in my brain and then finally settling down to bang it out. Either way, I do all my writing on my laptop. My fingers are too arthritic for long hand anymore.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can remember some of the first stories that had an impact on me, like seeing The Godfather and 2001 around age 14 and having my eyes opened to what film was and could be. Or reading books way beyond my tender years like "Jaws" and realizing that books and movies were rarely if ever the same thing. But the very first story ever? No. I do remember that my love of Dr. Seuss was and remains a lifelong affair. THAT's a guy having a genuine love affair with language if ever there was one.
How do you approach cover design?
I want it to be something that pops, that no one else is going to have, that captures the feeling of what the book is rather than trying to literalize a moment. I find a lot of genre books have fairly generic and interchangeable covers. Maybe it's a product of growing up in the era of real record albums (and '70s scifi book covers) but I think a cover should not only reflect the content but be a part of the package, something by which you can't judge the book, but you can at least decide if you're drawn to it. In an oversaturated market (esp. in the self-publishing era) it's important to pop out from the sea of thumbnails and announce yourself. I may have ignored a few lost gems out there because the cover design was lazy, indifferent, or unappealing.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson--probably the single greatest influence on everything from my writing style to my sense of humor to my political rants on Facebook. I first read it when I was a senior in high school, just discovering the world of wild intoxication, automobile-oriented freedom, lefty anarcho contempt for authority and a strong idea that the world as presented to me was seriously full of shit.

White Noise by Don Delillo--after years of being force-fed Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville (when I was probably just much too young to grasp it, really) it was a thrill to discover that literature could be wild and ultracontemporary and as full of hilarious satire as it was Big Ideas.

Neuromancer by William Gibson/Dr. Adder by K.W. Jeter/Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson--I'm an '80s/'90s kid so cyberpunk was hugely influential and awe-inspiring to my tiny young impressionable mind, mixing the gonzo energy of writers like Thompson with the geek culture underground of scifi and producing smart literarily valuable work in a ghettoized genre. Heady days, my friends.

A Scanner Darkly & Valis by Philip K. Dick/Stand on Zanzibar and Jagged Orbit by John Brunner--Later I would learn that Gibson and his ilk had some granddads, guys who pioneered the cyberpunk ideology when it didn't yet have a name. Dick and Brunner were just as wild, weird, hilarious and insightful as everyone else on this list.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem--I love genre, and I really love people who spin genre on its head. I was worried this book might be a gimmick, but in his gold-hearted OCD/Tourette's-afflicted lug of a private eye, Lethem created one of the most unforgettably lovable literary characters I've come across in years.
What do you read for pleasure?
As I said elsewhere, lately I read a lot of superhero prose fiction, and a selective stack of comics, both digital and trade paperback. I'm not a comics snob or a blind fanboy. I read more Marvel than DC, but love Image more than either, but I've outgrown any need to claim that I "only read indies" as much as I've outgrown the need to claim I "don't watch TV." I love what I love, shamelessly and happily.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm a Kindle man. It's been good to me.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I think there's no more effective tool than getting good press somewhere. I got lucky with my first book and got some solid reviews and press from a couple of unexpected sources. So more of that please!
Describe your desk
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Houston, Texas. It provided stimulation and boredom in equal measures, which is the perfect combination for creative inspiration and finding the time to do it.
When did you first start writing?
In the second grade.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is the prequel to my first one. It was dashed off quickly (but with great love and care) when I hit a brief block producing the sequel. Also, I wanted to get something out there to keep the readership interested and alive.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It's a great time to get into self-publishing because you decide whether the walls are too high or worth scaling. I have a book out in the world, now two, and I have hundreds of readers I didn't have a year ago. In September '13, I found myself with a finished piece of novella length that I was really excited about. Traditional publishing was unlikely for a zillion reasons, so I looked into getting it out myself and found out it was stupid easy. The biggest hurdle was getting a cover done, and lucky for me, Rodney Ascher, maker of the documentary "Room 237" was one of my beta readers and had made an awesome cover for it while reading. It was a public domain pic so I figured "What the hell? I love it. Why not use it?" I did, and the rest is the rest.
Published 2014-07-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Good Fight 4: Homefront
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 87,280. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Pen & Cape Society presents The Good Fight 4: Homefront. Explore the private lives of superheroes when they're not out fighting to save the world in this anthology of stories written by some of the best authors working in the superhero fiction genre.
The Good Fight 3: Sidekicks
Series: The Good Fight, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 63,370. Language: English. Published: March 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author
The Pen and Cape Society presents the third volume of superhero stories by its members: The Good Fight 3: Sidekicks. After you read these tales, be sure to check out the first two volumes of The Good Fight, and the work by the individual authors!
The Eternity Conundrum: A Brief Prequel to "The Villain's Sidekick"
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,970. Language: English. Published: July 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(5.00 from 1 review)
Duke "HandCannon" LaRue is a bad guy, an angry nihilist who'll lease his prosthetic gun-arm to the highest bidder. Today it's Dr. Shocktagon, who's just one major player in a nefarious plan to rewrite reality and unleash an ancient nightmare on Earth. But when Duke gets life-changing news, he's got to decide if now is the right time for end of the world and everything in it.