Author Interview: The Drive Home, part 2 – *Spoilers*

It’s been a few months since the release of The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror and all sales and downloads combined…hundreds of people have enjoyed the novel and many keep asking me about the events that took place during “the drive.” Emerald Inkwell came up with some questions based on personal and fan feedback regarding the story and its twists and turns. We sat down for another author interview, this time, filled with spoilers about the story!

So, if you haven’t finished The Drive Home, click on that link and grab yourself a copy.

This is your final warning: *Spoilers Ahead!*


Oh, my god! What the hell’s wrong with you!?

(laughs) You’re going to have to be a little more specific.

Let’s just get right to it and talk about that ending. I have to say I never saw that coming.

Which part? There were two sides to the ending, Ben’s and then the detective’s.

Let’s go over both. What about Ben’s ending? So, he just snapped and killed a bunch of people, huh?

Basically, yeah. The reaction I got from a lot of people–from the ending chapters as a whole–ended up being the reaction I was aiming for. At first, it gives you that “what the hell?” moment and you don’t quite get why he came unhinged. But then when you start to think about it, you realize it was a lot of little things that we’ve all experienced to some degree just piled on top of him, weighing him down until his mind couldn’t take it anymore. His home life wasn’t what he wanted after he made such a huge decision to move away with Lynn, the long-time job he’d wasted nearly a decade at had gone tits-up, his dream of being a writer seemed unachievable, and his best friends were all moving on with their adult lives, seemingly without him. All of that and more just became a perfect storm of bullshit that inspired that Fight Club-esque mental break.

That’s something I loved about Ben’s break, what “Taylor” tells him in the interrogation room. That Ben “needed a story” and Taylor gave it to him–it was a very “writer-like” thing to do.

That was actually one of my favorite reasons for the break. All the things in life he thought he was controlling (like his job, love life, et cetera) he truly wasn’t. Yet the one thing he thought he couldn’t figure out, like deciding on that perfect story to launch his career, it turns out he was controlling it all along. We’re capable of so much and even if we don’t know that, our souls do. Sometimes our bodies can give us a “push” in the right direction when we’re lost.

It does make a sad sort of sense. Did you pull any of that from personal experience?

In a way. Some of the situations the characters go through or have been through were kernels taken from my life. A lot of the events and conversations were definitely from experiences, either mine or someone I know. I think that makes it more relatable. That’s the side that allowed me to “write what I know.” Then I had to add something to the mix and throw a curveball at the main characters.

I’m guessing that’s the killing spree. I’m assuming you’ve never gone out and murdered a bunch of people.

Well…let’s not get into that! (laughs) No, I haven’t, I swear! But to that point, do you think the writers for Dexter went out and ritualistically killed a bunch of bad guys, just so they could “write what they know”? Of course they didn’t, but they likely did their research and talked to police and serial killers to get into the character’s mind. So, some experiences helped shape the characters in The Drive Home, then I did some research and studied similar characters in fiction to help craft the broken side of Ben. The Taylor side.

So, one question we really wanted to ask was: How is it that no one noticed that Ben was talking to himself all the time? The scenes where he and Ben are together might seem weird from another character’s perspective. 

Ah, that is definitely a good question. Addressing that was something I intended on making sure of from the start but didn’t realize I had done it already when I re-read the first draft. It definitely would look weird if someone was arguing with themselves in front of someone else, but there are actually very few times when Ben and Taylor are seen talking to one another in front of other people. Quite often they’re alone when it happens. As for the few times when someone is around them, the dialogue actually blends together as though one person was talking. Other times, Ben is often imagining himself talking to Taylor or is in Taylor’s shoes imagining Ben doing or saying something. Which means that Ben’s mind is playing tricks on him, hearing phrases like “you boys” when someone simply said “you” is just a side effect of that. To the same point, if you saw someone mumbling or talking to themselves, would you really speak up and ask them if they’re alright or just keep on moving?

Let’s shift the focus to Detective Sawyer’s story arc. Why focus so much on him and ruin his life in the end?

Well, if you think about it, that’s why I focused so much on him. So that I could ruin his life in the end. I really enjoyed writing the character and that ending, though. I had always wanted to create that surly, middle-aged detective character who smokes too much and just thinks people are inherently stupid. Originally, the ending was at a slightly confusing spot after the interrogation and Ben had essentially taken on Taylor’s persona while his own consciousness was all but extinct. But it felt unfinished, it needed something to wrap up Ben’s story a little more, which is where the epilogue came in. It gave me a chance to show that even though Ben was once a good guy, things still didn’t work out for him.

But Dan’s poor wife! It was definitely a surprise ending and it really picked up some last-minute steam during the epilogue. Was that intentional? 

Yeah, the added “last-minute steam” was intentional. I didn’t want to follow a standard, single climax followed by a wrap-up, story structure. I wanted to give it more of a rollercoaster at times. And that last little bit definitely gave me the opportunity to keep readers “hooked” even after the last page turned. When I had the idea for Dan to come home to another serial killer it turned The Drive Home into something different for me, something more. It changed from being the end of life as Ben knew it, to being the genesis of Dan’s character arc. He has this traditional cop background, but this is going to change him in ways he could never have imagined. When you realize the story that focused so much on Ben and Taylor wasn’t truly about them, and that it’s sort of an “origin” story, your perspective changes a bit.

An origin story? Does that mean we’ll be seeing Dan again? Or Ben, maybe?

When I started writing The Drive Home the answer to that question would have been “no.” But now that it’s out there and I’m hearing people thoughts on the story I think I do want to continue Dan’s storyline more. Delve into that crime/detective genre some more. People really enjoyed his chapters and got a very different type of energy from them. But, I’ve got some ideas for where he may go from here, but nothing set in stone yet. As far as seeing Ben again, you’ll just have to wait and see what happens, but what I will say, is that Dan and Ben’s stories are forever linked. Whatever Dan decides to do next, I’m sure Ben will be involved somehow.

That is pretty exciting, actually! We talked with a few people as they were reading TDH and found that they all said the same things at certain points throughout it. Things like “I think I know who the killer is!” or “I know where this is going.” But when they reached the ending, they were surprised at the Taylor twist and Dan’s fate. Was the ending always planned like that or did you come up with it during the writing?

Yeah, I had a few people say those things to me too. I had an idea of where I wanted things to end, but I wasn’t sure exactly how or where that would happen. As I was writing, I knew that consistency would play a big part in making sense when they got to the end. Like there are very few times after they leave Eugene that both Ben and Taylor are seen together or actually talk to the same person. As I really tried to develop these interactions and moments it helped me find the ending during the writing, rather than planning it out ahead of time. Where I initially ended it, it was about sixty pages lighter and missing something.

It’s funny how things work out like that sometimes. Alright, I do have one last question and it’s something that interviewers always ask new authors. Do you have any advice for writers who one day want to publish a book?

When I Googled that question, I came up with a lot of very similar answers. “Read a lot” or “Write every day.” While those answers are definitely true, I have one tip that helped me out quite a bit.

If you’re like me and get distracted easily—which a lot of writers I know do—write multiple stories at once. Not literally, mind you, but have a few different ideas, preferably in various genres. That way when you get bored or stuck you have something new and different to switch to. Different genres will keep your creativity on its toes and holds your interest longer.

Oh, and if you’re a writer or an artist or like doing something creative, get in touch with Emerald Inkwell. We’re working on trying to bring together a great community of inspired individuals to collaborate on projects or even just bounce ideas off of. We don’t have a start date yet for any “meet-ups” yet, but it’s high up on our priority list. It’s going to be fun!


That’s all for this interview regarding The Drive Home, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty more based on this project and others! I love discussing writing and story ideas with anyone who’ll listen. And my favorite company (Emerald Inkwell!) loves to listen to me gab on and on. I hope this helped shed a little light on some of the bigger twists in the novel and I can’t wait to bring you more great stories in the future.

Cheers!

Sean

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National Tell a Story Day!

America is filled with obscure holidays and random reasons to celebrate, but a number of them are near and dear to me and my passion for storytelling. On top of that, certain holidays even have the potential to do something good, if not great. National Tell a Story Day is one of those days that truly has the potential to do some great in this world.

Things like illiteracy and shortened attention spans have ravaged recent generations (mine included) and finding those who enjoy reading is becoming more and more difficult. Years ago, I nearly fell into that bottomless pit. Not because I didn’t know how or because I hated reading, but because the world of entertainment has been evolving so drastically that other things would snag my attention and my bookshelf started to collect dust. Instead of picking up a book, I’d watch a movie or play a video game–all valid ways to indulge our human need to tell and be told stories–but it took something away from my imaginative process. It wasn’t nearly as gratifying as creating a new world in my own mind, simply based on a few words on a page.

While National Tell a Story Day is based on the Scottish and European equivalent in October, America’s version takes place six months earlier in the year. It encourages all forms of storytelling written, verbal, visual, fiction, non-fiction, whatever! And it should be celebrated more widely.


National Tell a Story Day is the American counterpart of the Scottish and UK holiday of the same name, but is not to be confused with World Storytelling Day. World Storytelling Day is a celebration of the art of oral storytelling, helping keep the traditions of passing stories down through the generations. World Storytelling Day takes place on March 20th, a little over a month prior to National Tell a Story Day.


In honor of today, April 27th – National Tell a Story Day, I took steps working with my publisher to put together a limited time offer based around my debut novel The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror. So, for all the world, right now, you can pick up the kindle edition of The Drive Home absolutely FREE. Boot up your Kindle device or app and hunt down The Drive Home on Amazon! If you’ve read it, now you have it on-the-go and can read it again with ease wherever you are. Or, if you’ve yet to read it, you’re in for a treat and can then tell someone else about it, in honor of today. The special will run through the end of April and will hopefully help someone discover reading or at least read something fun that they’ve never read before.

So, get out there and tell someone a story today. Read stories, watch, write and enjoy as many of them as possibly today. This is what the human mind craves, telling and being told stories. Few things can make you feel and “live” like a good story can. I hope you all enjoy the drive and a few great stories today.


National Tell a Story Day SpecialTDH-FB-COVER

April 27th – April 30th

The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, Kindle Edition

Price: FREE. 100% FREE!

 


What other holidays are out there for writers and storytellers? Are there any specials or events taking place today that the world should know about? Let us know below in the comments–or tell us a story!

Author Interview: The Drive Home, Pre-Launch

Prior to the launch of The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror, I sat down with Emerald Inkwell so that they could ask me a few questions about my writing and the novel itself. I thought I’d put them together in a nice, beautifully formatted post.


Congratulations on the upcoming release! To start things off, why don’t you tell us who you are and a little about The Drive Home.

Ok and thanks, I’m excited too. My name is Sean Kelly, my upcoming novel is titled The Drive Home: A Tale of Bromance and Horror and it’s a thriller set in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of Ben and Taylor who take a road trip to visit Ben’s ill father, but hope to have a little fun and maybe get a little inspiration along the way. Ben is a young man who is fed up with the direction his life is taking so he quits his job and decides to try and write his first novel. Taylor, like it says on the back of the book, is Ben’s best—and quite often irritating—friend, who essentially invites himself on the trip, hoping that things will get a little crazy as all road trip stories usually do. In a sense, their road trip does get a little crazy, but not in the way they’d hoped… People start winding up dead in their wake as they drive through Oregon and Washington until eventually they’re confronted with the reality of their situation.

Love it! We’re from the PNW and we’re excited to read a story based there! Although, I do have to ask, what is this whole “Bromance and Horror” deal?

Yeah, I’m from the PNW too and that’s exactly why I wanted to write something based here; it’s my home! But the subtitle, right. So, “bromance” is a word that really only started to emerge sometime in the last decade thanks to movies like “I Love You, Man,” but the concept has been around for a while in things like buddy comedies. A bromance is essentially when two or more male friends are way, way too close and from the outside it can often be misconstrued as romantic, although there are no romantic intentions between them. In a broader sense, a bromance is like a more intense version of a best friendship, which eventually led to the forming of the word “bromance.” So, in the case of Ben and Taylor they’ve been best friends since childhood and have always been close and really don’t have any boundaries, as much as Ben sometimes wishes there were. In regards to the “horror” in the subtitle, well, that pretty much explains itself because, yeah, Ben and Taylor have been best friends since they were young, but then some scary shit happens and it puts that to the test.

So, you told us a bit about the story, but with this being your first novel, how would you describe your writing style before someone picks up the book?

Well, that’s kind of an interesting question. I’ve never liked the idea of pigeonholing myself into one category or style and I like to experiment with writing styles a bit. But in the case of The Drive Home and it being my first novel, I wanted it to be a fun, easy reading experience that would feel more cinematic. Furthermore, one of the things a lot of literary fiction writers do is really delve into the little details of their surroundings. They create that vivid painting of the setting with paragraphs or sometimes pages of details. While I love that style of writing I wanted this to be faster paced and the things that happen to Ben and Taylor are pretty distracting, to say the least, and I wanted to allow the real life settings to evoke a lot of the imagery. So, needless to say, they’re not going to notice the cherry colored rose resting and wilting peacefully in the walnut brown pot, bathing in the sunlight creeping through the stained glass window. As people are dying around them, that pretty much takes up all their attention and I wanted the pacing of the story to reflect that.

You say the novel is a faster paced, “cinematic” experience, could you elaborate a little more on that? How do you fill all those pages but keep things moving along at that rate?

It’s really a lot of ups and down, intense moments juxtaposed against serene or calmer scenes. To prepare the reader for that flow, the beginning is a gradual rise, developing the main characters before anything too crazy happens. Also, one of the things I haven’t spoken too much about is all the main characters that the narrative follows. What I mean is, we have Ben and Taylor, and their trip towards Spokane, but on the flip side of that, there’s another narrative arc we’ll be following. A surly, middle-aged detective who is tasked with connecting some of the dots and finding out who is responsible for the trail of bodies dropping throughout the Pacific Northwest. That alternate perspective allowed me to really play with that pacing I was talking about and really pick and choose where those highs and lows took place. It also gave me an opportunity to introduce a character type I’ve always wanted to write about: that skeptical detective who smokes too much and is easily pissed off by just about everyone. I love those guys.

Alright, let’s ask you a more difficult question. Without giving away any spoilers, what would you say is your favorite part of The Drive Home?

You’re right, that is a more difficult question. Other than the ending, because I really love the ending, I think that one of my favorite parts would have to be a short ways in when something happens and really shakes up everything the first few chapters set up and it really messes with the main characters. One of the reasons I really like this part is because it takes place in one of my favorite small towns in Oregon: Mt. Angel.

Interesting, Mt. Angel? It’s not during Oktoberfest is it?

No, but that is why I fell in love with love Mt. Angel. It is referenced a little bit though and you get a glimpse of Oktoberfest’s influence on the town. But what I like about it is that you meet a couple really interesting characters, some important and some not, but some of those characters and the conversations with them are almost entirely real. They actually happened to me and I sort of wanted to pay homage to those people who’ve given me those memories I cherish so much.

Is that how you come up with your ideas? Real life situations?

Sort of, yes. I wanted the novel to be grounded in the real world, so a lot of the characters and conversations are based on real people I know or have met. That’s what made them so interesting to me, they’re real. Real characters and real conversations I’ve had with them, which might explain why some of them aren’t very appropriate. Myself and a lot of the people I know have fairly foul mouths and some of that did transfer into the story as well. What’s the old adage? “Write what you know.”TDH-FB-COVER


Thanks for reading the pre-launch interview questions! We’re working on some post-launch questions that delve a bit deeper into the story itself and shed a little light on the future. Pick up your copy of The Drive Home in Print on iBooks, Kindle, and Nook today!