Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Brent Lambert?
Brent Lambert: He’s a guy just trying to succeed and make his way through this world while still maintaining some decency. I never think I work hard enough and that mentality is both a blessing a curse. Writing, reading, family and friends probably the easiest words to sum me up.
DF: What do you tell the IRS you do for a living?
BL: I work as a Billing Specialist for a worker’s comp insurance company. I track down why people owe what they owe basically.
DF: Tell us a little something about your background.
BL: I am an Army brat and for those who don’t know that means I was born and raised with my Father doing military service. I’ve lived all over. But my roots go back to the Southwestern part of Louisiana so the Cajun runs strong in me. Gumbo always does my heart good.
DF: How long have you been writing?
BL: I’d have to guess since I was 12 when I tried to write my own fanfic version of The Andalite Chronicles. Well, sort of fanfic as it was all original characters but just playing out the same plot.
DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?
BL: It’s a marathon and not a sprint. Every piece needs to be given the exact amount of time it needs and not a second less.
DF: Do you enjoy writing?
BL: Not sure if enjoy is the right word. Of course I love it, but it’s a need. It’s something I have to do and even if I knew I would never get a dime for it, I’d still write. Story telling lies at the core of me. I think it lies at the core of most people honestly.
DF: What writers have influenced you?
BL: There’s a number of them, so I guess I’ll just rattle off a few for the sake of attention spans.
David Anthony Durham – If there is an author I truly want to emulate it’s him. He’s a black writer who crafted a masterful epic fantasy trilogy full of blackness and black critiques. The trilogy I’m referring to is the ACACIA series. It was perfection on the page and if my life manages to produce such a work, I think I can be satisfied calling myself a decent writer.
Nnedi Okorafor – She’s a trailblazer and unapologetically black in her writing. It gives me a lot of hope to see so many writers like her coming into the publishing fold. She stands out to me because of just how artful and emotive her work is. I’ve seen some writers be good at word economy, but she’s just brilliant. WHO FEARS DEATH is a short novel that is full of worlds and history. A lesson for any aspiring writer like myself.
K.A. Applegate – ANIMORPHS was the series that made me want to be a writer. It’s what made me always want to invest in world building because of how she was always good at it. The visuals of the alien races she created still stand out in my mind. I credit her influence for me always wanting to know so much minutiae about any culture or race I create in my work.
Brandon Sanderson, Daniel Jose Older, C.S. Lewis, Jesmyn Ward and M.K. Asante are all other incredible people who provide influence as well.
And not to be too brown nosey, but I have always called you my “writing father” and I think that particular title will always stick.
DF: Do you write for yourself or for the reader?
BL: I’m going to give the typical Libra answer here and say that it’s a bit of both. I want to potentially make a career out of this one day and that means knowing what your potential readership expects. But you also have to write something you enjoy writing and would want to read. So it’s something of a tight rope I suppose.
DF: Are you interested in critics or criticism?
BL: Absolutely. Criticism is important. It makes you a stronger writer and allows to view your work from angles that you might not have had to before. Of course, with most things, examining criticism of your work requires a good degree of discernment. You need to be able to filter it out and take what you need from it. Writers too thin-skinned and stubborn won’t take any kind of criticism and on the other end of the spectrum, you have writers who agonize over even the most offhand of comments. You have to be able pull what you need from it.
I give a strong side eye to any who immediately dismiss any and all criticism. I’ve seen quite a few writers, some very recently, who suggest that if someone doesn’t have anything good to say about a work then they shouldn’t say anything at all. This form of thought seems to be particularly prevalent in indie circles. Let me say that I vehemently disagree with that.
One, if the criticism is coming from someone who paid for your book then you don’t have much option but to shut up and listen. This person has spent money that they will never get back AND taken time that they will never get back to read your book. On top of that, they’re taking additional time they’ll never get back to give your ungrateful behind their thoughts and you got the nerve to suggest they should have just kept their mouth shut? Miss me with that cult of positivity thinking. If you want glowing reviews, then you better put out work that commands it. You don’t get a pass because of your gender, race, etc.
And let me clarify that before the wolves come out. I strongly believe in supporting and putting my money towards works coming from marginalized groups. It’s something I’m passionate about and I dedicate a whole blog to. But being part of that marginalized group doesn’t give you a pass on putting out your subpar work. Subconsciously, I’m probably more forgiving than I should be but if your story, cover, formatting etc. is subpar then expect me to say something. On a personal level, I think I’ve had to work to come to this point because I use to be real sensitive about criticizing work by a marginalized author too hard.
But we don’t get the best work if we don’t expect the best from each other do we? And that’s the space I’m in now when it comes to criticism. See it as a way to add more bricks to your fort. Take what you need from it, do better and put out a better work next time.
DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Brent Lambert?
BL: I think so, if only because I am still seeking out writers that write the kind of books I want to read. The closest I can think of at the moment are some of the influences I detailed above. So I like to definitely think there is a lane for me and that lane is starting to become a highway that hopefully a bunch of us can all ride on.
DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?
BL: In the process of creating that first draft, I think it is absolutely vital to follow your instincts. You have to just let the imagination flow off you and go for it. Now once you go start passing that story around for feedback, then you might want to let your instincts take a bit of a backseat and listen to what other people have to say. I think in that stage of the process our instincts can work against us because we’re so attached to the story, ya know?
DF: What’s your biggest obstacle when you’re writing?
BL: Just making the time for it. No matter what, it always seems like there’s something that can distract you from it. Heck, even as I’m typing this there are at least five different distractions trying to pull me away from it. And since I have a tendency to want to try and multitask, it becomes a weakness. Writing is something you can’t do without focus.
DF: What are you working on that we should know about?
BL: So I’ve got a list of projects I’m working on in one form or another. I like having multiple projects to bounce between as it keeps me busy whenever I plant my butt down in the chair.
The Cruel Entourage – So this is a novel that originally started off as a serial series on Meriades Rai’s original fiction website. It languished for a few years with me pecking at it every now and again. I finally got a full blown draft for it done during this year’s Nanowrimo. So right now I’m going through and editing the first draft, which has surprisingly been a fun process.
The story is essentially (right now at least) about a group of criminals being hired by a magical equivalent of the CIA to take down a rising dictator.
The Last American- This is a story I just finished plotting out. Got about three chapters down on it so far. It’s actually a pretty personal story for me as it evokes myself and my relationship with my two nieces. How that gets translated into a dystopic superhero story is anybody’s guess…
Zaroffs- About eight chapters on this one and working on finishing out the plot outline for it. It’s my “sexy monster hunters” story, but I’m trying to take it a little more seriously than the tween romance bit that tends to come with those kind of tales.
Twisted Vines- This is the beast I’ve been trying to beat for a long time. Four drafts all in various forms of lengths. I’m determined to beat it this year. It’s my epic fantasy tale. It’s a story about how the past so intimately affects the present so it’s requiring a lot of world building from me. But it’s going well. I had an artist do a few character designs for it and it’s really enlivened the process for me.
Derrick Ferguson: What’s a Typical Day In The Life of Brent Lambert?
Brent Lambert: Work, the gym, writing/reading on a normal day. Maybe a couple of vacations thrown in over the course of the year. I’m a simple guy with whole universes rolling around in my head so I spend a lot of time up there.