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.”