Friday, February 17, 2023


I want to thank Brian Kaufman for taking the time for this interview!


By day, author Brian Kaufman is a curriculum editor for an online junior college. 

By night, he’s an award-winning fiction writer with nine published novels to his credit. His latest, A Shadow Melody (Black Rose Writing, 2023) is a historical novel with a horror twist: In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Browning each worked on devices to contact the dead through scientific means. Only one succeeded…

When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In seventh grade, I wrote a short story about a class field trip that interrupts a Russian plot to take over the world (silly, but Hollywood made Red Dawn . . .twice.) 

Miss Lesko, my English teacher, had me read the story to all of her classes. It was my “rock star” moment. 

Since my alternative career plans involved playing center field for the New York Yankees, and since I ran a hundred yard dash in fourteen seconds (in a race, bet on the glacier), I became a writer.

Did you have any influencing writers growing up?

Early on, Jules Verne, Robert Penn Warren, and H.G. Wells. I discovered H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury when I was thirteen. When I turned fourteen, my father and I started making Monday night trips to the library, and from then on, I established a pattern of discovering new “influences” that continues today.

Are any of your characters based on people in real life?

In The Fat Lady's Low, Sad Song, the shortstop (Scott Collier) is based on my boss at the restaurant I worked for. I even dedicated the book to him. A marvelous athlete and competitor.

Where do you draw your book inspirations from?

I obsess about some topics, and that’s what I write about. I learned early on that to have the steam necessary to finish a novel, I had to be a little bit crazy about the topic. 

That’s why I hop genres – I obsess about varied, unrelated things.

Do you use have a basic outline when starting a new story or do you let the characters lead the way?

I live in the mountains and stay in shape by hiking an hour and a half every day, seven days a week. 

That’s a lot of “thinking time,” and that’s how I work out my stories. It’s an internal outline of sorts.

When you are picturing the characters in your book, do you have a cheater photo for inspiration?

Absolutely. Helps me initially to picture the scenes. Later on, the character becomes whole, and the picture is less important.

Many people read as a form of escape and relaxation.  What is your favorite way to sit back and relax?

Writing is my default relaxation. I also play guitar (the blues) and drink beer, but those endeavors aren’t as productive.

Who are your favorite current authors to read?

I’ve been on a noir binge, and discovered Dennis Lehane. Also recently discovered Michael McDowell’s Black Water saga. Southern gothic gold.

What are your favorite books by others?

(An impossible question!) 

Streets of Larado by McMurtry. 

Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher. 

The Watchman by Robert Crais. 

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. 

The Disassembled Man by Jon Bassoff. 

Rope Burns by F.X. Toole. 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Hugo. 

Pride and Prejudice by Austen. 

Frankenstein by Shelly. The list goes on.

Do the locations in the stories have any meaning to you?

In my last few novels, setting is a character. Which is to say, yes, there is great meaning there.

Do you write in single or multiple POV?

Depends on the book. In one of my novels, I wanted a feeling of isolation and claustrophobia, so I wrote in first person, single POV, with no respite from the limits of my protagonist’s perceptions. 

In other novels, I relish the different POV voices.

What do you find to be your best research tool?

Mr. Google. He’s the bomb.

Do you write under a pen name?  Also, do you write under more than one name?

Not so far, though I’m considering a pen name for a series I’m working on.

What genre do you write and why is this your preference?

I don’t stick to one genre. 

I recall an interview with Paul Simon, the outstanding musician, who noted that he wrote songs differently, depending on the project. Guitar, keyboards. . .for one album, he recorded drum tracks and wrote songs to the beats. 

That’s a wonderful way to avoid repeating yourself.

Tell me something about yourself outside of writing.  Jobs, accomplishments, family, quirky trait...what led to you being you?

I worked in the restaurant industry for fifty years, so I’m a pretty good cook. (My wife is probably better.) 

I own a guitar made from reclaimed materials (the body came from a piece of Norwegian Spruce from a bar in England). 

I will die before trying sushi. 

I made four errors in a single inning in a high school baseball game.

If you are a duo writing team, how do you share the writing process?

I cowrote one novel (The Strange and Savage Life of a Brass Key Journalist). 

Aaron Spriggs, the other author, wrote a rough draft. I edited it, added my various bits of nonsense, and then he gave it a thumbs up. He did about two-thirds of the work.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Do it because you enjoy it, or don’t do it at all.

How do you deal and process negative book reviews?

I don’t tend to believe positive reviews, so negative reviews get the same treatment, ha.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Finding time. I still work a job-and-a-half. That said, I write every day.

What do you need in your writer’s space to keep you focused?

I have a privileged life at this point – an office of my own with a big window facing out on 34 acres of mountain land. Deer come up to the window (until my dog barks at them). My wife bought me a beautiful wooden table-top desk. Several bookcases stuffed with keeper books accumulated over a lifetime. Distilled focus.

What is your naughty indulgence as you are writing?

Beer. Specifically, New England-style cloudy IPAs.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?  And why?

I would have loved to drink with Hunter Thompson. I think we’d have gotten along, which probably says bad things about me.

What is your schedule like when you are writing?  Do you have a favorite writing snack or drink?

Besides beer? Diet 7-Up.

Do you listen to music when you write – what kind of music is your favorite?

Instrumentals, mostly. I can’t write to English lyrics. I have written horror with Gregorian Chant in the background.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing?

My dog Gus was my writing partner. When I sat down at the desk, he sat next to my feet. If I couldn’t come up with a word or a way to say something, I’d try to explain it to him (as if he could understand), and my simple explanation was often the sentence I was searching for. I dedicated my next novel to him (A Persistent Echo – August 2023) I miss him.

What is your kryptonite as a writer?  What totally puts you off your game?

Work turmoil.

Have you ever killed off a character that your readers loved?

Yes. I killed a horse in my upcoming novel.

How do you celebrate after typing THE END?

I think I’m like a football coach who wins a playoff game (with the Superbowl yet to come). 

“The job’s not done. Enjoy tonight. We work tomorrow.”


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