Name Robert Bradford
Age 25, but glaring down the barrel of 26.
Where are you from A small town in North Georgia called Trenton.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I was raised in Trenton by my parents, John and Jimmie Bradford. John, my dad is a loan officer, my mother works with children with mental health diagnosis’. I have two older siblings, Greg and Jennifer. A wonderful girlfriend named Maddy, and two ridiculous dogs: Candy and Toaster. I have a Associate of Arts Degree from Chattanooga State, and I’m currently working on my B.A. at Middle Tennessee State University.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, Above the Pines, recently released on Amazon and bookstores like Books-a-Million.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’m not sure I can really remember the first time I found myself writing stories. I always came up with stories, even before I figured out I should write them down. The first time I remember trying to write something though, I probably wasn’t any older than nine or ten. My friends up the street and I tried writing something very Star Wars like and I’m sure it was just terrible. I started reading comic books around eleven years old and I remember that being a big influence on me. By eighth grade, twelve years old, I was really getting into writing—doing a lot in my spare time. I think I just liked stories. I liked being involved with story telling. It was just always an attractive idea to me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
If you asked twelve year old me, I would’ve probably told you I was a writer. But in all honesty, it probably wasn’t until high school. I did a lot of writing for myself in high school, that few people ever knew or saw, but I also started writing for a newspaper when I was around sixteen or seventeen. They were opinion pieces that came out in a once a month issue. It was a lot of fun and seeing my name and words in the paper was such a thrill.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’m a fan of so many genres, so the inspiration to write always seems to be at my heels for one reason or another. For Above the Pines, it was the intense subject matter that the protagonist has to endure. I wanted to shed some light on a subject that often otherwise goes unnoticed.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
There are certain…rituals I go through, I guess. I don’t usually like to start something unless I know where it is going to end. Too many times before I’ve started a project and it has gone to the garbage can because I didn’t know where to take it. Now I make a very intense outline before I even attempt to write the first chapter. I also like to break the book down into acts. That has been a method that I think really worked in Above the Pines.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
This is actually kind of an interesting story. I was in my American Literature class and I can honestly say I was barely listening. We read The White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett, which is a great short story by the way, and at some point throughout the text my professor said a phrase similar to the title and I just flipped to a blank page in my notebook and started jotting down ideas. I hadn’t even thought of the plot, the characters, or anything else yet. It all spawned out of that title. I usually take my time on all the prep work, but I had a solid outline and began writing the book that same day.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll say that I want readers to get this out of the book: Abuse, in all of its forms, is real and we all should be educated about it. And growing up in an abusive situation makes the climb to adulthood all the more harder, but all the more sudden.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The story is fiction, but the subject matter is very real.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nothing from my own life, really, although I do relate with the narrator when it comes to her friends. Most of it is fictional or blended versions of nonfiction thrown together. I have had friends who have had similar experiences.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Oh wow. I think I really fell in love with reading late. I read when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until 14-15 years old that I really loved it. I read Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. That series probably influenced me a great deal. Of course, Harry Potter was a big influence, too. The stacks and stacks of Batman comics didn’t hurt either. Mentors? Too many to name. I’ve looked to writers, actors, directors, and just people I know who for inspiration and advice.n
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have a laundry list of books I want to read. I’m interested in the work my publishers, Thurston Howl Publications, puts out, because I want to get to know the publishing house that has given me this opportunity.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t know if “new” would be the appropriate word, considering she’s been on the market for a while now, but Gillian Flynn is among the newest authors to me that have really grabbed my attention. She’s a great writer!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working on something pretty different from Above the Pines but trying to keep a similar voice. This time it is more of a whodunit, type of novel. I’m really excited about it.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I could probably name a hundred. My girlfriend Maddy supported the heck out of me. She encouraged me to press forward in my moments of doubt. So did my mother, who spent years trying to light a fire under me. My dad and my cousin Tyler kept my interest in reading alive when I was young, which eventually lead to my written work becoming much better. My first editor-in-chief, Jewell Smalley gave me my first shot in her newspaper, and Ryan Tyler brought me onboard Chattanooga State’s paper The Communicator, which was the first time anyone has ever paid me for writing something. I could go on and on about every single friend I have that stayed up late with me or read something that I wrote that, looking back on now, is probably terrible. I suppose I should thank them somehow.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! That’s been the goal since I was in middle school. I’m not saying I’ve reached that point now, but I would like to one day. I think it is probably one of the best careers I could have, considering I’m just an old kid who loves telling stories.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
There might be a thing or two. I don’t think I’d ever write the same scene twice. That’s okay. I like what we produced with Above the Pines. It’s a story that is near and dear to my heart. I’m glad I don’t have the option to change anything.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Like I said before, it was really just about storytelling. Before I ever picked up a pen and paper, I just came up with stories. Maybe me and the neighborhood kids were coming up with stories or maybe I was in my bedroom alone with toys and coming up with some adventure. At some point I just had the idea to write them down. I think in another universe I would’ve become a director. I think that is what I wanted to do first. But I soon realized that when you’re a director you have to listen to a bunch of other people and work with a bunch of actors and I just wanted to tell stories. And I wanted to come up with those stories by myself. After realizing all that, it was pretty clear that writing was what I wanted to do for as long as I could do it. And I had so much fun doing it, right from the beginning.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
It’s a whodunit, and I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but I’ll share with you the opening lines:
“I am crooked at best. Hauled up in St. Louis, Missouri—downtown. The Rome of the West, I thought with cheese. Blues games in the winter, Cardinals in the spring. Me, in between, making a living off of infidelity and shady individuals doing things their mothers taught them not to do.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sure. There will always be challenges for writers, I think, to overcome their stories and make them the best they can be. It is different for different people, but for me it’s probably discipline to write in the amount of time I had blocked off for writing. I’ll often find myself with plenty of time on my hands and not a word to write, others, I’ll be bursting at the seems but it will be four in the morning or I’ll be out, away from my computer or notepad, or something like that.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I mentioned Gillian Flynn earlier, she’s really fantastic. She has a real dark way of talking but it isn’t overbearing. She just constructs really interesting sentences. I also love John Green, his work is a lot of fun to read. J.K. Rowling knows how to tug at the heart. She really captured me, too. And of course Daniel Handler who wrote Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. He’s hilariously witty and smart with his mysterious plots.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet. Hopefully there will be more traveling in the future!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Scott L. Ford designed the cover for Above the Pines, and has worked on a couple of other works for Thurston Howl Publications.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing from the point-of-view of a teenage girl, since, you know, I’ve never been one of those.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a lot about the rape culture in our society, from doing research on the different kinds of abuse that touched on in my novel. For example, the unbelievably terrifying fact that 1 in 6 women will be victim of sexual assault.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never stop writing. I know that sounds cheesy but it is the best advice. Just don’t stop writing. Don’t stop trying. And when you try…really try. Don’t start a project and let it grow old in your word processor somewhere. If you have a good story, a story you believe in, don’t stop.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks for reading, and never hesitate to communicate with me about my work.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I can’t remember the first book I read on my own. I remember doing a book report when I was really young, on a book called Bats. But the first book I can remember are books like Dr. Seuss, and a book my mother use to read to me called I Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love stand-up comedy. I love the late shows, too. I’m a sucker for all of that type of humor. Sad things make me cry, or really happy things when I’m in a weird mood.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
There are so many people who are realistically on this list. But all my friends probably expect me to say Michael Keaton. Why? Because he’s Michael Keaton and he just happens to be one of my favorite actors.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Assuming I’ll be in a library or a bookstore when some sort of natural disaster happens and my body is found buried at the bottom of a stack of books, I want my head stone to read: “In the end, the books wrote him.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I’m a big reader, too. I enjoy video games like a lot of guys, and I’m a hockey fan of the Nashville Predators!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Oh, far too many to count. I like to watch most of the big blockbusters because I just enjoy going to the movies, but I also really enjoy the oscar nominated films. I don’t think I have a favorite film anymore, there are just too many to choose from. My favorite film from last year is Birdman. TV shows are the same case. I just like good storytelling. Bob’s Burgers is a hilarious show. The Office is probably one of my favorites, too.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love pizza. I also love baby back ribs. My favorite color is blue, most of the time. I like all kinds of music. Some of my favorite groups are: Five For Fighting, U2, Fleetwood Mac, The Killers.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Weirdly enough, I think it would be really fun to be a private investigator.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? http://www.robertbradfordwrites.squarespace.com and I’m on Twitter, you can follow me at @bradfordwrites