Q&A With Brian Spaeth

MCMWednesday, August 5, 2009

Many of you already know Brian Spaeth, famed practitioner of actoring and writering... but for those who don't perhaps this little interview will shed some light.

Brian is the author of the reading book Prelude to a Super Airplane, which you should buy as soon as possible. I spoke to him earlier this week via email, which is as close to being a journalist as I can get.

I know you're a writer, but what else do you do? What is actoring, and does it involve duct tape?

What else do I do...that's a good question. Depending on the day of the week, and the week of the month, it could be any number of things. Almost all of my time right now is going into setting up the promo for Who Shot Mamba?, my broadband motion picture.

When that's not happening, I'm writing a book, writing my blog, lifting weights, writing about lifting weights, being scared of animals, and walking around grocery stores looking at which products have changed their logos recently. I have an unfair branding and graphic design fascination that often exposes me as a person who is like that.

Also, you know I've sent you a copy of WSM?, and when you see it, you'll understand the true power and meaning of actoring.

How has your background in film helped prepare you for writing? Are there any similarities?

I'd say it's helped me in several ways, the biggest of which is that I learned the storytelling.

With screenwriting, you don't really have the freedom to go off on long tangents or descriptive meanderings and such. You need to be able to tell the story as efficiently as possible. This is a good skill to have. Secondary to that, I really figured out what type of material is the right combo of what I'm good at and what I like. Fortunately, these are exactly the same the material.

If there's a novelistic drawback, it's that I don't excel at writing prose with regard to the internal feelings of characters, and get bored writing extensive personal histories into the narrative. Apparently many people expect these things in novels. It's not that the stuff isn't there for the characters (i.e. in my head), it just doesn't go on paper. I suppose that's why I'm often told my book work reads like a screenplay in a certain way.

I have no problem with this - it's not like I'm writing Schindler's List. If it's entertaining, I did a good job. That's like my only rule.

Your book "Prelude to a Super Airplane" is considered a masterpiece in many circles. To the uninitiated, what's it about?

Can I just steal this from the Amazon listing?

In the year 2012, These United States of America is politically divided to a magnitude not seen since the Civil War. On one side stands the fast emerging pro-flying car contingent; on the other, the stubborn and traditional pro-airplane members of the populace.

At stake? The entire future of airborne leisure and transportation.

Set against this tumultuous backdrop, a young fiction writer has written a book about the only thing that can save the airplane riding industry - an impossible to conceive, 47-story airplane of such power and wonder, the world will have no choice but to submit to its glory.

The world's first comedy-political thriller-mystery-drama-romance-action/adventure-science fiction-showbiz insider-horror-family-energy drink industry insider-holiday autobiography, Prelude to a Super Airplane weaves the lives and destinies of 40 people and one moon probe together in astounding ways, as they all find themselves facing the future of airplane riding...the Super Airplane.

It's basically Lost on a sugar-high, via Michael Bay and Airplane!. Also, despite what it says inside the text, there are actually five books planned, not including the Radby spin-off.

If you look through the nonsense, there's a pretty thick mythology that's been woven, and I'm excited to see it through somehow one day. Hopefully in movies or as a TV show, so I don't have to write the books ever in my life ever.

You sell in print and Kindle, and also give away big chunks of your book online. Which methods work best for you?

None. NEXT.

Truthfully, there are two facets to this.

One, I never set out to be a novelist, so anything I've done in this space has been a total accident. My primary focus is film, and with Who Shot Mamba? coming this October, all my marketing efforts have been in that direction. My secret hope is the movie hits big, and then I sell a bunch of books on trickle-down. Then all the faux-book-marketing-gurus will write articles about how the key to selling your self-published book is to make a feature film.

The other thing is that I don't enjoy the business end of things. It's not that I can't or won't do it, it's just that I don't enjoy it. Since the books aren't my primary focus, I kinda blow that part off. In the end, most of my sales came right at the start when I was talking about it a lot.

But I get bored, yo. And I don't enjoy self-promotion. I may have self-esteem issues - I feel bad telling people to buy stuff from me. At the same time, I love myself.

These contradictions - wonderful, yeah? I am crazy like you - this is why we get on so well. I've never said "get on" in that context before - it makes me feel British.

Who is Brad Radby, and how did you manage to get him to write a foreword to your book? It was blackmail, wasn't it?

It wasn't blackmail at all - I'm a master of persuading important movie directors to write things for me when that same director isn't busy producing my films and letting me use their name as a character in my books. You do know Brad Radby is a real guy, yeah?

Tell me how confused you are about Brad Radby on a scale of 1-10.

If you could be any airplane in the world, which kind would you be?


I honestly don't know anything about airplanes. When I did the to-scale diagram for the 47-story Super Airplane against the one-time Sears Tower, I was shocked (and pleased) at just how unrealistic it was.

I don't know why, but it just struck me that we should do some kind of cross-over short-story jam. Like have one of your characters have an adventure on the Super Airplane. Let me know what you think about this - keep all this in the interview, also. This is like open-book idea-having.

Do you have any marketing tips for new writers? What is your #1 marketing technique?

  1. Twitter has been amazing for me. Used correctly, you make friends. Friends support your work and tell others about it for you. And I like never talk about my books on there, and rarely even RT when others do.

What's really fun is I've seen people pick up terms like "actoring" and other vernaculars all on their own after reading my stuff. They just use it because they think it's fun, and when people ask where the heck they picked that up, it's basically marketing for my book, without doing any marketing at all.

  1. Keep a blog and update it regularly. Make it good, and honest, and not a big sales pitch.

  2. Don't sit on your book. Don't sit on your book. Don't sit on it. Get it out there, and while you're doing that, get the next one going. One book will not make your career - do not think this way. I don't want to say quantity over quality, but someone with a ton of ideas, and energy about those ideas is exciting, and that's a marketable quality in and of itself. (Hi, MCM!)

  3. Semi-related to #3. Get YOU out there. "If you build it, they will come" is not a marketing strategy, and neither is a good book all on its own, especially in the area of indies. Even in the big leagues, JK Rowling and her personal story has been a massive asset to the Harry Potter franchise.

Do you truly believe Keanu Reeves would make that bad of a President?

I don't understand why you describe him as "bad". He's an exciting President! Look at those plans he has - he's makin' moves! He's shakin' the world up!

Nobody would be able to resist seeing a movie with Keanu Reeves as President. Give me a studio to run - I need to prove this.

What's next for you? Any cool projects on the go?

I'm hesitant to say much - I want to be like Apple and just drop stuff on the ususpecting masses from now on. But...you're cool, so why not:


Not saying what it is yet. It could be many things. It might just be a new kind of word puzzle. You'll be able to find out right around Christmas, during the holiday hiatus of Mamba.

Oh, and related to WSM?, I have a mini-book (30 pages or so) coming out in September, explaining how the source material became the movie. I think it's a neat little package, and a pretty cool intro to the movie itself.

A very special thanks to Brian for answering my journalistering questions so thoroughly. Now go out and buy his book before I subject you to more silliness!

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