Thursday, October 06, 2011

Razored Zen Interview: Bret Funk

My guest today on Razored Zen Author Interview is Bret Funk. Bret is another Louisiana author. I’ve known him for a lot of years now. I’m not quite sure how many. I first met him at a local science fiction convention where we were both guests. Bret is the author of the acclaimed Boundary’s Fall fantasy series, and editor and publisher of Tyrannosaurus Press. He also edits The Illuminata, for which I’ve written a lot of articles and essays over the years, including quite a few that appeared in my book Write With Fire. Now, here’s Bret. (RZ represents Razored Zen and BF is Bret.)

RZ: Tell us a little about yourself outside of writing. Home town. Family. Job. That sort of thing.

BF: I grew up in southern New Jersey, not too far from Philadelphia. It was a rural area when I was born but morphed into a suburban haven, full of housing developments and strip malls, during my childhood. Two sisters. Parents who worked hard. Good friends. But it was still NJ, so as soon as I graduated high school, I left.

College was a choice between Boston and New Orleans. A conveniently-timed visit to Tulane in February sold me on New Orleans. It was only after I returned in August of 1994 that I realized the pleasant February weather was partnered with ridiculously hot summers. For someone that had been always hot in NJ, that posed a problem.

I majored in Biochemistry, got a Master’s degree in Epidemiology, all with the intention of going to medical school. Fate intervened, medical school didn’t happen immediately, and as I watched many of my med school friends grow tired and miserable, I decided that it might not be the wisest career choice. I started writing, and since I couldn’t survive off my words, I went back to doing what I did in high school: fix computers. I’ve been in IT ever since.

RZ: What made you want to write? Is it a desire that’s always been with you? Or was there some particular event or book that ignited the fire?

BF: There was no particular event, but I’ve always had an active imagination. Giant battles were arrayed across the attic of my house (fantastic crossover wars with Transformers, army men, dragons, and even the occasional My Little Pony when troops were in short supply). I tend to pose myself a lot of “what if” questions, and try to follow those thoughts to their conclusion. And I have a tendency to criticize, and a habit of listing (in my head, at least) all the things I would have done differently to make a given book, TV show, or movie better. Eventually I decided to walk the walk, and I started writing down my own stories. It was tougher than I thought, and even tougher to get noticed. So I should offer a blanket apology now; some of the things I was critical of were probably more a result of the industry and less the fault of the author.

RZ: Writers always get asked about their influences. Consider this that question.

BF: I can’t, and probably shouldn’t for fear of forgetting someone, provide any particular list of authors who have influenced my writing. I have gravitated to science fiction and fantasy since childhood, with a tendency toward epic fantasy. Stories that are character driven over those that are plot driven. As a child, I preferred tales where the good guys won absolutely; as an adult, I tend to favor stories with more nuanced conclusions, where the line between good and evil is blurred in both protagonist and antagonist, and where even the noblest characters suffer for the choices they make.

RZ: Bret, tell us a little about Tyrannosaurus Press.

BF: Tyrannosaurus Press is an independent publishing house of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate reality, etc.) born out of frustration with the way the publishing industry worked, and how difficult it was for an unknown author to get any sort of voice. Sadly, the demands of life mean that it does not always get the attention it deserves, but we have published five novels and two anthologies to date, and our ezine, the Illuminata, is about to enter its tenth year. Our goal remains the same: to help unknown but promising authors find ways to get their words seen, with the hopes of furthering their writing careers.

RZ: Writing can be hard work. What motivates you to keep going? What inspires you?

BF: Writing is an escape for me. It gives me the much needed break from reality that we all need to continue functioning. For me, writing is a better escape than watching TV or movies, or even reading, because it also offers me mental exercise as well. Figuring out how each character should react in a given situation, and the consequences born of those characters’ decisions, excites me. It’s that excitement, coupled with the rush of a finished story, that inspires me most.

RZ: What are you working on currently? And what’s next for you?

BF: At the moment, I am preparing to start the final volume of the Boundary’s Fall series. After that… I have a number of other ideas, but I haven’t decided which one will get my attention next.

RZ: What work is available from you right now, and where can readers find it? Is there a place online where folks could go to learn more about you and your work?

BF: I have four novels in the Boundary’s Fall series (Path of Glory, Sword of Honor, Jewel of Truth, and Forge of Faith) available now in bookstores. The latter books are available in ebook formats as well. By the end of the year, we hope to have all four books available in Kindle, Nook, and ePUB formats. There’s also a smattering of short stories available across the web, and a number of articles in the archives for the Illuminata, which are available on our website (
Bret, thanks for visiting Razored Zen.

NOTE: Bret’s books are also available in print on the websites for Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Tyhitia Green said...

I really love your interview style, Charles. And thanks for the introduction to Bret. :) I will check out his work.

Chris said...

Great stuff. Will definitely be checking out more of Bret's work!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So he's an author and a publisher? Impressive.

Charles Gramlich said...

Tyhitia, thanks. Glad you enjoyed.

Chris, He's talented writer for sure.

Alex, two hats are definitely difficult to wear.

Deka Black said...

if i can say it, just realized your interview style is very pulp. Simple, easy, and interviewed-driven.

Travis Erwin said...

Good stuff. I've been reading Mr. Funks name a lot on blogs, twitter and, facebook so must check out his work soon.

jodi said...

Charles, you are getting awfully good at this interview thing...

Golden Eagle said...

Great interview!

Being an editor, publisher, and an author all at the same time must be interesting.

laughingwolf said...

nicely done, charles and bret :)

will check out his tales asap...

Richard Prosch said...

Yes, Charles, wonderfully done. Great interview, sir!

Cloudia said...

You type writers make it sound like picking daisys instead of breaking rocks! WiWarm Aloha from Honolulu;

Comfort Spiral

/ )

> < } } ( ° >
sh I was more like you guys!

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, I like that. Thanks.

Travis Erwin, I've set on a lot of conference panels with him over the years.

Jodi, thankee. I appreciate that.

Golden Eagle, sounds like an awful lot of work. :)

Laughingwolf, cool on you, man.

Richard, thanks, man.

Cloudia, naw it's pretty much breaking rocks. :)

ivan said...

Fascinating interview.

Fascinating guy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, thanks, man

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nice interview and as someone who grew up in Philly and moved to Detroit, Philly looks pretty good.

X. Dell said...

The staged attic battles is akin to what I know some screenwriters go through. With the help of others, they do scenework--i.e., improv the scene in character, frequently posing the question, "what if?"

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, I've never been to Philly but always wanted to go.

X-Dell, I do some similar things at times with my own writing, walking through a scene or talking it out.

Barrie said...

Nice interview. I could relate to the "escape from reality" part of writing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, glad you enjoyed.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Great interview, fellas. I know how Bret feels with the trying to recall all the literary influences. I enjoyed and this answer too, "Figuring out how each character should react in a given situation, and the consequences born of those characters’ decisions, excites me."

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, a lot of the joy of writing certainly comes from the characters.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

It was good to find out more about Bret. I keep meaning to check out his stuff, too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Rachel, thanks for coming by.