Bryan R. Dennis is an emerging author. Like many young up and coming authors, however, he’s decided that publishing his books himself, via Kindle, is the way to go. His first novel, An Epitaph for Coyote, was released earlier in 2011. He is now achieving some of his publishing dreams and is getting set to release his newest novel Saw a Rainbow.
Tell me about your background. I mean, where are you from, when did you become a writer and what influenced you?
I grew up in three towns: La Salle, Princeton, and Bolingbrook, Illinois. The first two are rural and surrounded by corn and soybean fields. One of my first jobs was de-tassling corn. I was also a paperboy, complete with tote bag.
Those towns were kind of frozen in an earlier time. I rented books from a one-hundred-year-old library, and watched movies at the centenarian theater, threw rocks through the windows of defunct 19th century factories, rode my bike down the red-brick road past Victorian mansions on my way to school. My mom added to my sense of dislocation from modern times by airing 50s and 60s reruns on television all day long. I really ought to thank her for that. My favorite shows were the Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Outer Limits. The library had an old selection of books too. I read a ton of Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein with a million check-out stamps on the inserts.
My dad was always on the road driving a truck so I never really got into typical “man” activities like sports, mechanics, or wood-working. Instead, from as early as I can remember, I’ve read books and written stories.
How did you come up with the story for your novel An Epitaph for Coyote ? I know writers always get asked that, but what was your muse?
I bought into the worst version of the American Dream which is the one that says you need a giant house full of garbage made overseas by serfs, and a nest egg big enough to retire with a king’s lifestyle. To achieve this I went to university and graduated with a business degree. Over the next few years, I commuted an hour in Las Vegas traffic, in a gray, generic car, to a gray, generic office. Along the way I’d marvel at the sun rising over the Spring Mountains. By the time my shift ended, the sun was already setting over the Sierra Nevadas.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who bought into this “dream.” The entire valley succumbed to endless concrete and pavement. The desert, which I had previously believed as dead and boring, seemed vibrant and alive by juxtaposition. I lived through the housing boom. Saw the wilderness getting carved up and buried beneath big box stores and tract homes, suffered the toxic smog filling the valley from one mountain range to the other. I fought the time-pressed citizens, who’d become rude and self-centered by necessity.
I felt sad and empty inside. I never had time to spend with my wife. My daughter was in daycare and never got to play with wildlife, or explore the woods, or breathe fresh air like I had at her age. We ate fast food, nearly every day. Was this prosperity? The original American Dream was about giving the next generation a better life. I quickly realized I’d been brainwashed into accepting a mutated, selfish, superficial version of the American Dream. My children were getting cheated. These were my feelings when I encountered a coyote one day in a patch of desert slated for construction.
What made you decide to become an “indie” publisher?
Two words: the Kindle. I bought one, loved it, and wanted to see my stories published for it. There were other reasons too, but this was the main one.
What do you think about the current state of publishing? Some say ebooks are “saving” the novel, others say it is the death of the novel, what do you think?
I think ebooks are saving the novel. I read more now, since buying a Kindle, than I’ve read since grade school, and I’m not alone. Now that you can read library books on Kindle, I expect the transition to the digital format to accelerate. The paper-based novel was a technological leap from spoken stories, and ebooks are simply the next stage of that technological evolution.
What’s in store in the future for yourself and, in your mind, the world of publishing or books?
In the future, all authors, except for famous people, will start as independently-published. They’ll get noticed by using promotional services provided by former traditional-publishing experts. The big New York publishing houses will merge and provide a print option for breakout indie authors. Skilled, prolific writers have the best chances at succeeding in the future, as now. I think books will get shorter, more serialized. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep self-publishing and socializing in hopes of getting noticed.