My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
At drama school. I loved the fact that you could put pen to paper (or font to screen) and create an entire world that could be turned into action and a live performance within a short space of time. The characters filling your head with all their different voices and the scenarios that they encountered was so exciting, I couldn’t stop.
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
Michael Crichton. His books have the most fantastic pace and inventiveness. Jurassic Park is one of the finest books I have read, as it entranced me as much as a teenager when I first got hold of it as it does now.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
My first viewed production was a play I wrote at drama school called Hush. I produced and directed it and it played at a local theatre venue for three nights. It was exhilarating and we even made a small profit. But as to my first professional credit, I would have to say the feature film I directed in 2001, Darkly Tripped. We took it to Cannes, where Sony viewed it. They were kind about the film, but were more impressed by the script. That led to me getting more opportunities to present my work.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
It’s a close one. 20th Century Fox optioned a script I wrote called Broken Stone, about warring families of Triads and Yakuza in modern-day London. It is, I feel, the most complete and perfect of my works and I still love reading it now. But my first book, Caley and the Dragon, was written for my daughter and I adore the story. I have planned out parts two and three (as I originally planned the story arc as a trilogy) and am really eager to continue writing them. That story is very dear to me.
Who or what inspires you to write?
Films themselves. Music. I am constantly in awe of the new and imaginative ways people find to create and tell stories. A new piece of music can explode ideas into my mind like nothing else. That is a thrill in itself.
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
My family. PlayStation. Movies. TV (I literally have too many TV show box sets to catch up on in this lifetime. Breaking Bad is still one I have yet to watch which, I am told, is a crime in itself). Seeing friends. Exploring and visiting new places. The basics.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write, write and write some more. I didn’t find my voice and my style until four or five scripts and a bunch of short stories in over several years. Every new medium presented a fresh challenge too. Screenplays and books are totally different things, just as short stories and stage plays are completely different. It’s almost like I had to learn all over again for every new medium that I tried. My first book took eight years to write (on and off), because I would write for a month, leave it for six months, come back to it, edit the hell out of it, leave it for three months, come back and edit the hell out of it again. It was agonising. But I know my voice now and it guides me instinctively when I’m writing. But I wouldn’t have found it if I didn’t keep on writing, so yeah, write, write, write.
Why are you a member of WGGB?
I wanted to be part of an organisation that helped to guide me as a writer professionally. I did some research and the WGGB just had a voice to their advice that showed there were people behind this organisation who cared. But had come to care through experiencing the pitfalls that we have all gone through and then chosen to take it a step further and help us to avoid those pitfalls.
Michael Brand grew up in the south of England, but his heart will forever be ensconced in Manchester, where he now lives close to. He has been writing since he was 21 and has a beautiful family who keep him on the ground and are realistic about his work-life balance. He has one miserable cat and a real yearning to adopt a bulldog.