Thanks so much for stopping by the Author Spotlight! Today I'd like to welcome Author Frederick Lee Brooke - author of two books that I loved: Doing Max Vinyl and Zombie Candy (review posted below.) Fred's books are fun reads with lots of unexpected plot twists and clever dialogue. Here's Fred to tell us more:
Please tell us about your current release.
Zombie Candy is about a young married couple who have some problems ... Larry, when he’s not at work, mainly likes to watch zombie movies. His wife, Candace, is a gourmet cooking freak. So the two of them are talking past each other a lot of the time. Larry finally rebels in a way that husbands do all too often, and Candace, with the help of her best friend Annie Ogden, now a freshly minted private investigator, decides to take revenge in a way that Larry will best understand – using zombies.
What inspired you to write this book?
Talking to friends and reading stories about other people made me realize that a lot of relationships become zombified after a certain amount of time has passed. I wanted to explore what would happen in the characters’ minds when they reached the breaking point.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Annie Ogden was a central figure in both Zombie Candy and my first book, Doing Max Vinyl. She’s a returned Iraq War veteran who is a little confused when she first gets back. She doesn’t know if Chicago has changed or she herself, and she’s sorting a few things out in her mind. So right now I’m working on a third book in the series featuring Annie Ogden.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Some time late in my high school years I knew I wanted to write books. I liked nothing better than to read a good book, so I thought writing them would be the perfect way to prolong the experience indefinitely. That turned out to be true.
When and how do you find time to write in your daily life?
I had a career as an English teacher and language school manager before quitting my day job in order to write full time. Between family duties and other activities, I still sometimes have to work to keep to my writing schedule. But I can’t complain.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
Rule number one is to find your voice, as a young writer. I think many people manage this best by keeping a journal. Trust your voice and learn to embrace it and run with it. More than anything else, your voice is what will make someone keep reading. Once you’ve got a story going, rule number two kicks in, and that’s keep your backside glued to the seat. Writing is hard work. You have to put in a lot of time, and you have to turn on your brain and think.
Who is one of your favorite characters that you have written? Please tell us about him/her and what book they are in
Max Vinyl is one of my favorite characters. He’s the main character in my first book, Doing Max Vinyl. Max feels like everyone misunderstands him. He owns a recycling company, but he dumps old computer junk ten miles out in Lake Michigan; then he wonders why his girlfriend dumps him. Max is a con-man, but he’s also very charming and likable. He’s not all bad, and I think that makes him interesting.
Are you writing under a pen-name, do you use your own, or is your work out in both ways?
I use my own name, Frederick Lee Brooke. I don’t have any reason to use a pen name. But my friends call me Fred.
Is there a writer that you would love to co-write a book with?
I don’t think I could write a book together with another writer, although there are many writers I admire greatly. I like to make all the decisions about the things I’ve written. That being said, I have some fantastic beta readers who help me with feedback before I publish anything, and I have an excellent editor.
Do people judge a book by its cover? Who makes yours?
I think a lot of people look at a book’s cover and decide whether they want to look further or not. I have a professional cover designer named Mallory Rock who is in charge of my covers.
What is your greatest challenge as an author?
I love life, and there are many distractions in life, and so my greatest challenge is compartmentalizing in such a way that I get enough time for the writing I’ve set out to do.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience has been finishing my two books, Doing Max Vinyl, and Zombie Candy. Just the act of finishing them gave me great satisfaction, because you know how hard it is to finish a big, complex project. It has been very gratifying to know that many people enjoyed reading them, as well. But for me just the act of finishing them was the most rewarding thing.
What is the best advice any one has ever given you?
Happiness comes from hard work.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I would say there’s a little piece of me in all my characters, even the women. I try to get inside their minds and be them, so it’s only natural that they take a piece of me in the process.
And now for some fun questions...
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
You’re going to laugh, but I wanted to be a rock star. I thought Elton John was the greatest (my parents were worried), but I didn’t practice the piano enough and stopped my lessons after six months.
Who is your favorite super-hero and why?
I like Spiderman. I guess it’s because he was a normal guy, Peter Parker, before he was bitten by that radioactive spider. And he has so much trouble in his romance with Mary Jane.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m learning Turkish. I like grammar, and Turkish grammar is interesting.
Cats or Dogs?
Cats AND dogs.
PC or Mac?
You can’t be serious ... Macbook Air since January 2011, and I’ll never go back.
Woohoo - another Mac convert! Coffee or Tea?
Tea to start the day, but coffee after lunch.
What is one thing that you could not live without?
My kids and my friends.
Do you have any hobbies?
Reading is my most decadent hobby. I read approximately 100 books a year and review almost every one. I also like to cook.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
To make people work for peace.
Great answers! Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My phone recently died, and so I finally joined the ranks of people who own smart phones. The coolest thing about my smart phone is how easy it is to download songs. Within a couple of hours I had downloaded 30 or 40 songs. I then realized it’s just as easy to download books. And electronic books don’t even cost very much more than songs. I just thought that was worth sharing.
Excellent point, Fred! Thanks for pointing that out! Where can people find you and your books online?
My blog: http://www.frederickleebrooke.com
Zombie Candy Amazon http://ow.ly/e2cgW
Doing Max Vinyl Amazon http://ow.ly/e2cb2
More About Frederick Lee Brooke:
I write books because I love playing with language, on the one hand, and creating characters and seeing what crazy things they will do if you set them free. I've spent more than 20 years living in different European countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland. I speak French, German and Italian, and I've been learning Turkish for the last five years just for fun.
My books are mysteries, for lack of a better word. Doing Max Vinyl is about a computer recycling con man, while Zombie Candy is about a serial adulterer who happens to love zombie movies. In both books, Annie Ogden, a recently returned Iraq War vet who is having trouble adjusting to civilian life, gets personally involved in taking down these world-class jerks. I like a book with a good dose of humor, and the humor can come from the absurd situations people find themselves in. The world we live in is an absurd place, and you can either laugh or cry about it.
When I'm not writing I'm usually reading. I like to write book reviews. Of course I love it when people review my books, too. I like to cook and sometimes post recipes on my blog. Zombie Candy contains most of the recipes in the book in an annex at the end. I also like to hike and travel and learn about other cultures.
About Zombie Candy:
From her gorgeous husband to her acclaimed cooking classes, Candace Roach's life looks nearly perfect from the outside. Well, appearances can be deceiving. Her husband, Larry, has three unruly addictions that drive her to the brink--zombie movies, cilantro, and having sex with other women. Luckily, her best friend Annie Ogden is back from Iraq and armed with a private investigator's license and a fierce determination to see Candace happy again.
Together, the women uncover the ridiculous extent of Larry's infidelity. He needs to be punished,that much is clear. But how can they hit him where it counts? Oh, if only she could find a way to tap into those three little addictions--what a lesson that would be. Italy is calling, as are the zombies in the night, as suburban housewife Candace Roach transforms herself into the ultimate fidelity vigilante, complete with a badass motorcycle, a very small pistol, and the nom de guerre "Zombie Candy."
My Review of Zombie Candy:
Nobody was more shocked than I was that I was reading a "zombie" book, but since I loved Frederick Lee Brooke's first book, Doing Max Vinyl, I just knew I had to see what Zombie Candy was all about. I'm so glad I did. While I am admittedly not a fan of zombie stories, I am a fan of Frederick Lee Brooke's writing style, and this book had all the humor and quirkiness from Doing Max Vinyl that I loved - and it was not a true Zombie story, which actually made it more enjoyable for me.
Instead, this is a story of betrayal, addiction, and revenge - in a way you never thought possible. I loved the play on the main character's name (Candace) with the title of the book. The ending totally surprised me, and it was great (although I would have preferred to not have been eating while reading it - you have been warned.) If you're looking for a fun read this summer, Zombie Candy is the way to go! Loved it!!
Thanks so much for visiting the Author Spotlight, Fred!