This is Carl's Brain
10 Questions with Brett J. Talley

1.  What is the genesis of your story The Reborn and do you plan on writing additional stories set in that world?


It was definitely one of those lightning bolt things. I can remember exactly where I was. I was driving down Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama, and I turned to a friend and said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be crazy if reincarnation was real? And what if people blamed you or praised you based on what you did in a previous life, even if you didn’t remember it? And what if your talents or faults were all the same, each time you were born?” The rest, as they say, was history. I love the idea, and I think the world is a rich one with many more veins to be explored, so I do think I will go back to it. People seem to like it.


2.  Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?

hp lovecraft

Definitely HP Lovecraft, even if it’s not so evident from this particular book. His willingness to challenge the accepted way of seeing and doing things, however, has application to all forms of writing. I also just love his style. Minimalism is in these days, with the whole “If you can say it in three words instead of four, say it in three” rule dominant. I’m not saying I don’t think there is some truth to that maxim, but I also think it robs the artistry from writing. We aren’t producing instruction manuals; we are making art. And sometimes four brush strokes can add something that three would never be able to produce.

3.  Why did you choose Genghis Khan as the reborn leader that would conquer the world?

Gengis Khan

Well, I wanted someone who was a great conqueror, who was charismatic, who was fearless, who believed his mission was a divine one, and that was willing to do anything to accomplish his goals. Khan had all that. Before he conquered the world he had to conquer the warring nomadic tribes of the Mongols. He had to bring together people who had always hated each other. That was the most important thing to me. I wanted someone who could conceivable walk into a broken world, one that was questioning everything it was based on, and get people to leave everything they’d ever known behind to follow him. Frankly I needed a Christ figure who was willing to murder millions to see his Heaven on Earth realized.

4.  If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The Great Gatsby. I have read that book more times than I can count. It’s the perfect book in my view. Not a word out of place. Beautiful, poignant, touching, timeless, and readable too.

5.  Do you feel that there is any validity to the possibility of reincarnation?

I’m certainly not a materialist. I do not believe that we live, die, and that’s it. I think reincarnation would answer a lot of questions, and the more we learn about the greater mysteries of science, I am fully willing to accept the consciousness flows in cycles, just like everything else. Personally, however, I’m a Christian, so I guess I don’t actually believe in reincarnation. Not yet at least.

6.  Do you outline prior to writing your story, or do you work out the plot as you write?

I work it out as I write. I am a terrible outliner actually. When I start a project, I generally produce a single paragraph that lays out what’s going to happen in broad strokes. That stays at the bottom until the book is done. That’s about as far as the planning stage goes.

7.  What current writing projects are you working on?

I am currently working on the sequel to my Lovecraftian novel, That Which Should Not Be. It’s tentatively titled He Who Walks In Shadow and is set immediately after the first book ends.

8.  If you were reborn, what famous person in history would you have been reborn as?

Thomas Jefferson

That’s a great question. Probably either Leonardo Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson, just because they were guys who could do just about anything.

9.  What type of scenes do you most enjoy writing?

This may sound strange, but I like either pure dialogue or pure description. I love scenes that are just two characters talking, going back and forth about something. But I also love scenes where there is no dialogue at all, and it’s just building atmosphere and tone and a feeling of dread.

10.  If you could pick one other author to collaborate with on a novel or story, living or dead, who would it be?

Well Carl Alves of course! But if he wouldn’t take me, Lovecraft. I can only imagine what he would teach me.