Thursday, March 5, 2015

Talking with author ME Brines

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I've always been interested in a quest for Truth, whether philosophical or economic. I want to understand how the world really works. Most of my writing explores those sort of questions.

What started your interest in writing?
I've always been a big reader. I wrote my first "novel" in 6th grade. It was an alien invasion story. I used to write humorous political or religious pamphlets in high school for made-up political parties or religious groups. My first published item was a choose-your-own-adventure book for the Tunnels & Trolls role-playing game when I was sixteen. It was my first real job.

What is your book(s) about?
The Fist of God is about a man searching for revenge who finds Truth instead. He doesn't really like what he discovers.

What are you currently working on?
The fourth book in the same series: The Realm of the Dark Sun. It's more of a romance involving a CIA agent in 1959 trapped in a mystical world at the center of the earth. Yeah, all my stuff is weird.

How long did it take you to get your rough draft finished on your latest release?
The Fist of God was written about ten years ago. It took me almost a year to get the first draft done. Back then I wasn't as organized about writing as I am now.

If you could be any paranormal creature what would you be?
Ha! I would be a vampire hunter in the footsteps of old Simon van Helsing.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
My hobby is military gaming on a tabletop with 1/56 scale figures, primarily World War Two battles on the Eastern Front. I've always been a big fan of military history, especially World War Two. The Fist of God is set in that war as is the sequel, The Unholy Grail, set to come out next July.

Are any of your characters like you?
Usually somebody in the book has some of my talents/personality. The stories often reflect some searching in my own life although they aren't necessarily autobiographical. Although Maitre'd to the Damned (my vampire novel) did feature a restaurant manager who turns vampire hunter. I did used to manage a restaurant. It was a pretty weird and awful place to work and in the book I worked in a lot of real events that happened to me, although I never actually met any vampires... that I know of.

What genres do you write in?
Speculative fiction is the closest term. It covers fantasy, science fiction and paranormal works, which are all categories my fiction fits. I've also done a paranormal investigation (Why Do Ghosts Wear Clothes?) and a lot of small non-fiction pieces on religion, philosophy and politics.

Is there anything you will never write about?
Probably not. I've done a novel that's also a cookbook: The Donuts of Doom. My problem is most of my writing defies categorization, so it's been difficult to find publishers.

Do you have a favorite quote from your book(s)?
It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

Is there anything you would tell aspiring writers?
Don't give up. Everything in the writing business takes FOREVER.

If zombies attacked what kind of supplies would you want?
Pretty much what I've already got stockpiled "just in case." I'm not paranoid. I just feel if you expect the worst you're never disappointed.

What was the hardest part of writing your book(s)?
Well, that's different for each book. The Fist of God was difficult to organize because at the time I wasn't making outlines. I'd just sit down and write the thing. When you do it that way it's like building a house without a blueprint -- you end up going back and having to rebuild big sections over and over. There were whole chapters that ended up discarded and then other sections that had to be added later. The entire ending of the book is different from the original.

Do you keep a notebook near for when new ideas pop into your head?
No, I mostly just let them roll around in my head a while.

If you write a series do you reread your previous books before you begin the new one?
Yes. It's surprising what you can forget even when you wrote the book, especially if it's been a while.

Is there anything you wish to say to your readers?
Please leave a review on Amazon or whatever site you bought the book from. You can't imagine how helpful that is for other people finding the books.

For readers who haven't tried your books yet, how do you think your editor or loyal readers would describe your books?
Weird, profound and entertaining.

When writing, how do you keep track of timelines, ideas, inspiration and such? By notes on the computer, a notebook perhaps?
Yes. My later books have extensive outlines. The last couple I've even storyboarded like a movie script. I try to write, "scripts for the movie in your head."

I’m always looking for book recommendations. What books have you been reading? Would you recommend them?
I'm currently reading a history of the Cuban Missile Crisis -- research for my next book. I can't really recommend it, as it's not terribly interesting, mostly informational. Unholy Alliance, a history of Nazi involvement with the Occult by Peter Levenda is good, if you like that sort of thing. I read a lot more non-fiction than fiction.

Lately I've been rather disappointed in recent fiction and movies. I'm not a post-modernist and I don't like a story that goes nowhere and demonstrates that existence is pointless. I don't find "life sucks and then you die" entertaining. Modern storytelling has moved away from the happily ever afters and moral lessons to a more nihilistic viewpoint. It's because society is changing from the traditional Western Judeo-Christian worldview to a secular evolutionary one and what's getting published now reflects that. The only genre that isn't affected is romance. The last couple of books I wrote were romances because I was despairing of getting a non-post-modernist story published otherwise.

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?
The Fist of God is the first in a seven-book series from Desert Breeze Publishing. They're due out at six-month intervals. I've already written the first three and the fourth is almost done. It's a tale of an ordinary guy who ends up becoming a hero in a paranormal adventure opposing a supernatural conspiracy to enslave the human race. But at the same time it's a story about his life, fighting in world war two and Korea, working in the CIA, his romance and marriage, having a kid and dealing with the events of the 20th century. Kinda like Forrest Gump if Forrest were in the CIA and fighting evil spirits. It's been billed as the Occult History of the Cold War.

I'll probably also get around to publishing a collection of my short stories, many of which have appeared in Weird Tales, Tales of the Talisman and other magazines.

Writer’s block—real or hype?
I'm a very disciplined writer. I write when I'm supposed to. I don't have any trouble with "writer's block." You can get blocked up if you sit there thinking about it. Just do it.

Do you prefer to extensively plot your stories, or do you write them as they come to you?
I prefer to plot them out, at least in general form. I find it easier to make a better story and not to have to go back and re-do things.

Do you have a favorite genre? Is it the same genre you prefer to write?
Hard to say. I'm kinda picky. I don't like a lot of hard sci-fi although I'll read it. A lot of paranormal stuff I don't like because of the way Christianity is edited out. If you're dealing with the occult without that you're basically helpless. You can't fight real evil spirits with a handgun or karate chop. Fantasy is probably my favorite.

What advantages or challenges does a writer in your genre face in today’s fiction market?
The changing worldview in publishers makes it difficult for someone who writes from a traditional Western Judo-Christian viewpoint to get published. I don't write "Christian" fiction but I do write from that viewpoint. My stories don't just ignore God or spiritual issues. Most of the population doesn't either but the narrow elites that run Hollywood and the publishing industry do and that colors their ideas of what people want to read. It's pretty sad when you have to look to cartoons like Toy Story to explore ideas about the individual vs. the collective and friendship because Hollywood is all about violence and sex and the existential pointlessness of life. I think the movie Prometheus is a good example. They raised all sorts of spiritual issues like where are we from, who created us and why, then ignored them in an orgy of blood and killing and left you knowing even less than you did when they started. But what can you expect when the screenwriter's philosophy is "life sucks and then you die, everything is a pointless waste of time and meaningless." If so, can't we see a story about someone who tries to come to terms with that? Instead we get boobs and giant robots fighting.

A lot of fiction these days is basically the same. I really liked Sommer's The Electric Church because he examined that sort of thinking in a world that was falling apart. He never really came to any real conclusion (which is why the series just sort of ended with no conclusion) but at least he tried. Readers look around and ask "is this all to life there is?" They want someone to address that. But most writers don't know what to say and most publishers don't like the answers.

What if the Second World War wasn't just the largest war in history, but a supernatural struggle between spiritual entities?

It’s 1940 and the fires of war have set Europe ablaze, but America remains blissfully neutral. To please his parents, skeptical Stuart Mackenzie studies to become a minister. He has about as much concern for the outcome of the war as he does for South American sports scores. But his idealistic brother, a former bootlegger with ties to the Purple Gang, volunteers for the Royal Air Force. And when his Hurricane is shot down, Stuart abandons his studies to seek bloodthirsty revenge.

But what he discovers unravels his worldview. Can a confirmed skeptic defeat a coven of Nazi sorcerers on their home ground? What chance will the mundane weapons of the Allied powers have against ancient magic and an artifact said to have slain the very Son of God?


Our frantic efforts to free our comrade dumped the contents of the crate onto the loading dock. Nestled inside a large quantity of protective wood shavings lay a life-sized bronze statue of a naked woman.
She wore a necklace of human skulls and several severed hands dangled from her belt. With six arms and a Hindu headdress, her identity was unmistakable: the goddess Kali. Once, long ago, in what seemed now like another life, I took a seminary course in comparative religions and learned Kali's identity as the Hindu goddess of death. But what was a statue of her doing in a place like this? I mean, I knew there was death here, a lot of it. It surrounded us all day long. But why would Nazis bother with something more appropriate to a heathen temple somewhere?
But then the plans I overheard in Heinrich Himmler's castle began to make sense. They were actually going to go through with them. This was just the first step. The lunatic scheme of a deranged crackpot would sacrifice  millions, maybe tens of millions, and if Himmler carried his insane plan through to completion, the Allies would certainly lose the war. Backed by the magical power of the forces summoned by his evil enchantment, the armies of Nazism would sweep across the globe defeating all opposition and begin a new Dark Age, prolonged and made more horrific by an incestuous alliance between modern science and an ancient evil.
The mundane armies of the West could only hope to counter Nazi occult powers with spiritual powers of their own.
During my interrogation, Himmler taunted me, bragging about a talisman of power that would seal our doom. Yet, in the right hands, it could turn the tide. The future survival of the West, and maybe of civilization itself, depended on me relaying that information back to Britain. They had to know about the only weapon with the power to balance the enemy's hellish enchantment. They might not believe me, but that information represented the only hope for the Free World. I had to escape. Now, more than just my own life lay at stake....

Author Bio and Links

M.E. Brines spent the Cold War assembling atomic artillery shells and preparing to unleash the Apocalypse (and has a medal to prove it.) But when peace broke out, he turned his fevered, paranoid imagination to other pursuits. He spends his spare time scribbling another steampunk romance occult adventure novel, which despite certain rumors absolutely DOES NOT involve time-traveling Nazi vampires!
A former member of the British Society for Psychical Research, he is a long-time student of the occult and a committed Christian who sees himself as a modern-day Professor Van Helsing equipping Believers for battle against the occult Principalities and Powers that rule a world in darkness. (Ephesians 6:12)
The author of three dozen books, e-books, chapbooks and pamphlets on esoteric subjects such as alien abduction, alien hybrids, astrology, the Bible, biblical prophecy, Christian discipleship, conspiracies, esoteric Nazism, the Falun Gong, Knights Templar, magick, and UFOs, his work has also appeared in Challenge magazine, Weird Tales, The Outer Darkness, Tales of the Talisman, and Empirical magazine.
*I'm often asked how I square my Christianity and "messing around" with the occult, as if I'm partial to bestial things with a goat under the amber light of the moon or something. No so. I'm a student, in the same way I used to study Soviet weapons and tactics back when I was a US Army officer. This gives my work a unique perspective no matter what your belief system. I don't judge. I just present the information and let the reader decide.

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