Please join me in welcoming first-time author Brandon Carbaugh to the TPTW lounge.
He was so gracious to grant me this interview to let the world know more about him as a writer and about his debut release, Deep Sounding.
Hi, Brandon! Tell us more about you. Where are you from? When did you first get that desire—the calling—to write?
I consider myself fortunate that I’ve known what I wanted to be since the time I was 7.
I learned to read earlier than other kids, and so I never really went anywhere without a book in my hand. But I also had a gameboy in the other hand, and I consider that equally foundational.
Maybe it’s a specific generational thing, but growing up in the 90’s, I never really drew a distinction between a book like “Lord of the Rings”, a game like “Final Fantasy 9”, or a movie like “Princess Mononoke”. They all competed for my attention and respect equally. I always knew that somehow I wanted to create gigantic and amazing worlds like these, to share my overactive imagination with other people.
As it turned out, designing a game or animating a movie were pretty ambitious undertakings for a kid with the attention span of a flea. But typing a bunch of words? That I could do.
When did you begin writing Deep Sounding and what inspired you to write it?
Like most of my projects, “Deep Sounding” had been gestating in one form or another for years. It was originally going to be something like “Gormenghast” (for all twelve people who have ever read that), with various nations holed up in these big enchanted castles called Sanctums. The idea was to explore ideas about ecological sustainability in a euro-medieval context.
Meanwhile, a totally separate idea had been simmering in the pot: to do a low-fantasy story which put dwarfs at the forefront, as the only sentient race, in an incredibly hostile world. The idea here would be to explore how practical concerns boil down and become everyday social norms, cultural mores, religious practices, etc.
Eventually the ideas began to overlap, so I smashed them together: replacing the humans with dwarfs, the castles with mountains, and stripping out all the magical elements.
I tried and failed to approach the story a few times, but kept shuffling it back into the “Ideas” folder to percolate another few months. Finally this August, something clicked, and I banged the whole book out in just a few weeks.
Considering the subject beings are dwarfs and your novel breathes comedy, was this written for middle grade, young adults, or adults? Can we expect all of your [future] books to be written for that age group?
You know, a question like “what age group is your book targeted at” probably shouldn’t be so tough to answer. Maybe it indicates a little boneheadedness on my part as a writer, but I generally try to come at things from an “all ages” perspective. In my most delusional moments, I like to compare myself to Terry Pratchett or Hayao Miyazaki. But then the laudanum wears off, and I feel guilty for harboring delusions of grandeur.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some naughty words and dark ideas present; and certainly I don’t think anybody under the age of 11 or 12 would get much out of the book. But hopefully beyond those few caveats, it’s got a little something for everybody.
As to future books: it’s hard to say. I look again at Terry Pratchett, and how the intended age-group for books in his Discworld series is all over the place (in terms of readability, if not necessarily content). Some are for kids, some are for young adults, some border on adults-only. Most, however, are all-ages material, and they’re rightfully treasured for it.
What is your favorite genre to read? Would you consider writing in that genre one day, if it’s different than the genre you currently write?
I love anything that shows a lot of preliminary research and special knowledge on the part of the writer: hard sci-fi, gritty crime drama, legal thrillers, police procedurals, historical epics, etc. Anything that tells a good story while also enriching and educating the reader. I’d love to write something like that some day.
I’ve learned that $0.50 from each sale of Deep Sounding would be donated to the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation, which I find very admirable. Can you tell us more about that?
The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation is a nonprofit organization which helps families affected by epilepsy to get things like seizure alert and response dogs, or EMFIT monitors, which are special devices that alert to seizure activity during sleep.
My little sister Kaitlin has epilepsy, so it’s a cause that hits close to home. She and my mother do a lot of epilepsy advocacy stuff, and have worked with the Hutchison people before, so it seemed like a natural fit.
Also, because the book is released under a Creative Commons “share-alike” license, it gives me a humorous way to approach piracy. “Sure, you could steal the book…but you’d be CONTRIBUTING TO EPILEPSY!”
[Let me just add really quick here—when I researched the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation, Brandon’s donation hit close to home. My baby sister is an epileptic as well, and knowing that a foundation like this exists is much appreciated. I plan to forward the information to her, so thank you, Brandon!]
If you weren’t a writer, what could you picture yourself doing instead?
Enjoying life as a seagull. Or designing video games.
[I can see how that would be a difficult choice.LOL]
Do you have any current projects that you want to share with readers?
Well at present, I’m working on two books: one is a direct sequel to Deep Sounding, and the other is a big dumb Jules Verne-y adventure story, set in the same world. The former will be another novella, but the latter will be a proper full-length novel, a very raw sample of which can be read here.
For those who may have questions or just want to follow your successes and progress, how can you be contacted?
Do you have any final words for your dedicated fans and prospective readers? Anything I may have missed that you feel the reading world should know about Brandon Carbaugh, the author?
To my readers: Nothing but overwhelming thanks and humility. The response to the book, and in particular a recent “free book day” promotion, were much more positive and successful than I had any right to expect. My sincere thanks go out to the Chelsea Hutchison foundation, the epilepsy community, and the Dwarf Fortress and tabletop gaming communities. Now stick my blog in your bookmarks and hold on to your butts, because we’re just getting started.
To prospective authors: e-books, indie publishing, and self-marketing are not “the future”. They’re “the present”. In the words of Sir Vanilla Ice, “get wit it”.
To the rest of the reading world: The Hobbit is coming out December 12th, and you can bet money there will be kids dressed like Bifur and Bombur next Halloween. The window of time in which to claim you were “into dwarfs before they got cool” is rapidly closing.
And if you don’t like dwarfs, you’re a nerd.
Congratulations, Brandon, and thank you SO much for taking the time to allow me and the reading population to invade your writing life…just a little. 😉 Remember everyone…the Kindle Edition of Deep Sounding is available today on Amazon. Let’s show our support for a new author and the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation!