Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi, I’m TJ Brearton and I currently have sixteen published novels.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I draw inspiration from my family life (I am married with three children), my experiences with past addictions, and my extended family members who work in law enforcement. I’m also very much inspired by current events, philosophy, and religious thought.
How do you deal with creative block?
By remembering that the first draft is not the final draft. And by re-committing to writing what I want.
I never had writer’s block at first, not for a dozen novels. But then I started listening to too many voices and not enough my own. I had to reset. Writing what you want makes fiscal sense, too — if you enjoy what you’re writing, chances are readers will enjoy it and in that sense it’s got the best chance of selling.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I don’t know if it’s a mistake, but overthinking and second-guessing can set you back weeks or even months. I think you have to trust what first comes out of you in the rough draft. Not always, but as much as possible. Once you start second-guessing and changing everything, it can have a domino effect.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
My publishers usually choose titles and covers. But as far as any advice I have: first and foremost, the title should be clear. I’ve seen books with light pink titles over white backgrounds in serif font and it just baffles me. Your title should be readable as a thumbnail image on a phone.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
In the beginning, bad reviews gave me the blues! But what happens is, given enough time, you start to see patterns. For instance, a book will get a bad review for being too slow, and the very next review will be five stars praising how fast-paced it was. Someone said books are a mirror, so a lot of what you see in a bad review is just a person who’s unhappy. Of course, people also have legitimate criticisms. I think I’ve learned to discern the difference. If someone is just a grump, who cares what they think? But if an astute reader has some respectful, critical feedback, it might be something to think about.
Of course, don’t think about it too much, or pay attention to it too much; even well-considered critical feedback will vary and you’ll wind up with too many voices in your head.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I don’t know that it has! Haha.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
A book is life. You live with it for months, maybe years. You go through periods of frustration and anger, joy and relief. Some go quickly, others drag on and take everything you’ve got.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I think I’ve considered my reader more as time has gone on. In the beginning that’s tough to do because you don’t really have readers yet. So maybe you think of one or two people.
Today, talking about readers, maybe you mean “the market,” in which case you want to think about a book being fast-paced and exciting if you’re aiming for the thriller or crime fiction market, for example. Or, talking about readers, you might mean a series you’re working on, and in that case you want to give the people who’ve read the previous books more of what they like — you even need to improve on what was there in the first place.
But again, you have to be enjoying it, having a good time, too, and of course need to feel satisfied with the result. (Satisfaction doesn’t always mean jumping up and down with joy, though. Just knowing you did the best you could.)
What role do emotions play in creativity?
For me, emotions are huge. They drive the characters and the characters drive the story.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Yes but they’re proprietary. 😉
What are your plans for future books?
To write more of them. To write the best one. — With every book you want it to be a masterpiece, and each one falls short of that, so you keep going.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I recently quit smoking (20 years) and vaping (5 more years after that) and now I use lollipops to keep my mouth occupied when I’m writing.
Visit tjbrearton.net for biography and book information.