Above all else, AJ is a husband and father of two beautiful children who not only support his creative endeavors, but also provide inspiration (sometimes in rather unexpected ways).
If you'd like to learn more about AJ Brown's life and work, visit his blog: Type AJ Negative. However, beware, AJ is a unique mixture of strawberry Kool-aid drinking redneck and traditional values Southern gentleman. The only things he takes seriously are serious things and he isn't one of them.
Author Links: Website | Twitter @ajbrown36 .
Honestly, I had no intentions of being a writer. I didn’t care much for it. I wasn’t a big fan of writing when I was in school, and really wasn’t a far of it once I got out. I liked to tell stories, but those were usually verbal and to several people, kind of like a standup comedian. Then something interesting happened. You see, I have always had bad nightmares—rarely any actual dreams that were pleasant—and I had been having a recurring nightmare and had lost a lot of sleep. Then I was told about a writer who had bad dreams and couldn’t sleep. He went to his doctor, and the doctor told him the next time he has the nightmare, write it down. Long story short, he wrote the story and never had the nightmare again. So, I gave it a try. Two things happened: 1) I never had the nightmare again and 2) I actually enjoyed the process. It didn’t matter that the story sucked. I enjoyed it. That was the start.
RH: Was there a certain moment that defined your drive to tell stories?
I always told stories, so that is something I have always done. I probably tell more stories that are never typed up or see the light of day.
RH: How many books do you have out?
Four, but only three that are both digital and print. The other one is a print only version and that is on purpose. Is there one that's special to you? Oh man, yeah. Cory’s Way, my novel. It is such a neat storyline and the characters of Cory and Mr. Washington and their relationship was fun and heart wrenching to write. And how Cory keeps a promise he made (or thinks he made) is endearing and adventurous.
RH: I see you have a semi-official author's page (https://typeajnegative.wordpress.com). What do you mean by semi-official?
Everyone always says the official this and official that. I wanted something different (I’ve always done things my own way and different, if I can help it). So, semi-official is the way I went with it. It kind of has a nice sound to it.
RH: What is your latest book, Cory's Way, about?
Cory is a ten year old kid whose father left them. His mom is forced to move them away to another town and she takes on a job where she works a lot of hours and can’t be around too much. That leaves Cory on his own. Being the new kid in school he becomes the target of the bullies. In the process of escaping them one day he meets Mr. Washington, a homeless man who lives underneath an overpass. But something is wrong with Mr. Washington and Cory makes a promise to him. The process of keeping this promise is what becomes Cory’s ‘way.’ There’s a LOT more to it (including a serial killer), but I can’t really go into much more detail without giving away a good chunk of the story.
RH: Do you reflect people you know into your characters or do you prefer making them up on the fly?
I believe there is a little bit of someone I know in every character I create. I think, if most writers were completely honest, they would say the same thing.
RH: What kind of research did you do for Cory's Way?
There is a homeless village in Cory’s Way—it is based on a real place here in Columbia. My wife and I looked for this place to get kind of an idea of what I was going to write. There is a boxcar in here and we went to Winnsboro to the train museum there to get information and pictures to make sure it was accurate. A lot of the scenery is taken from places in my hometown, so I didn’t have to research that too much. There were a couple of other things, mostly capabilities of these kids, that I had to make sure was accurate. Fortunately, Cory’s Way has a lot of my childhood in it, so that research had been done years ago.
RH: What themes might we find in Cory's Way?
Bullying is one of the themes. Homelessness. Fear and Loneliness. But the overpowering themes are loyalty, forgiveness, determination and…even a little bit of love. I tend to say that Cory’s Way is a story that has a lot of lessons to it, but without being preachy like so many books with morals tend to be.
RH: Which character do you think is the most like you?
Cory, by far. A lot of his feelings and attitudes I took from myself at his age.
RH: Do you have a writing process? Do you like outlines? Making it up on the fly etc.?
I’m a little bit of both of those. I do outlines for long pieces, but they are very loose, kind of like points that I want to make in the story. For short stories there are no outlines. It’s just write until I reached the end.
RH: Do you have a favorite line from any of your books?
Actually, my favorite line is not from anything I’ve had published, but from the story I’m working on right now. It’s called The One Left Behind. The line is the opening sentence: He woke to the sound of a memory, one that involved a gunshot.
RH: If you gave one character a chance to speak for themselves, what would they say to a reader about their world?
Whew. Wow, that’s a good question. I’m not sure which character to choose. Hank Walker would be a good character to let speak, but Cory is the one that is so endearing that I think most people would fall in love with his story. I would let Cory talk to the reader, but he would not necessarily know exactly what to say. He would probably shrug, look around so not to make uncomfortable eye contact. He would probably say, “If you think something is wrong with someone, go with your gut instinct. More than likely it will be correct.” (That would be a big statement for him to make, and he would speak from experience.)
RH: What is your next project?
Which one? J I have two books coming out next year, a short story collection and a novel. The novel is Dredging Up Memories, and it is my take on the zombie genre (and no, the zombies aren’t the most pivotal part of the story).
RH: Where can we find you on the web?
There is my blog, Type AJ Negative (https://typeajnegative.wordpress.com/ ) There’s both of my facebook pages. My personal page, ajbrown36 and my author page, www.facebook.com/typeajnegative . There’s also my Amazon page
RH: If Cory's Way could be a movie, who'd play Cory, and why?
Honestly, I have no clue. I couldn’t tell you the name of a young actor if my life depended on it. However, Mr. Washington would be played by Morgan Freeman. His voice, his mannerisms. Yeah, I can see (and would love) that happening.
RH: I noticed that Cory's Way has a short story in it. Why did you want to add it to the novel?
I love giving the readers extra content and The Baxter Street Happenings was my thank you for the readers purchasing and reading Cory’s Way. The short story has a direct connection to the novel—the street Cory lives on is Baxter Street and he and his mom even get mentioned in it.
RH: What advice could you give fellow/aspiring writers?
Follow your heart. Writing is not easy, but if you want it, you have to chase it. Never stop learning the art of writing. So many people no longer treat it like an art, but it is. Once you stop learning, you may as well go ahead and quit. Develop thick skin. You’re going to get knocked down from time to time and you have to be able to take criticism.
RH: What is your least favorite scenes to write?
Romantic scenes. I don’t write them often, but sometimes stories call for it. How do you accomplish it? When I have to, I think of the person I love the most: my wife. Then it makes it easier.
RH: Do you have any tricks when it comes to getting into the writing-mode?
Not really. I just sit down and start writing. If I’m feeling it, then I keep writing. If not, well, I keep writing anyway.
RH: What is your favorite scenes to write?
Opening scenes. I love setting up a story.
RH: What books/authors have influenced your writing?
Stephen King and John Mantooth—that guy can write.
RH: What kind of pets do you have? What are their names?
I have a dog and her name is Josie. My daughter has a cat named Hellspawn…I mean, Mia. We all have a turtled named Turquoise O’Malley.
RH: What is your favorite geeky movie?
I’m not so certain I have one. Shaun of the Dead, maybe?
RH: What is your favorite book?
Where the Wild Things Are. Seriously.
RH: Pen, Pencil, phone, tablet or computer?
Pencil and paper. I don’t have a cell or a tablet.
RH: What does your writing sanctuary look like?
I wish I had a writing sanctuary. I have my desk in my bedroom and that is about it.
RH: Where do you call home?
West Columbia, South Carolina.
RH: Do you prefer paperback or e-books?
Paperbacks all day long.
RH: If you could be any character of any book (including your own), who would it be and why?
I would say Cory from Cory’s Way, but in a way, I was Cory as a kid, so I think I already lived it.
RH: Is there an author out there that you'd really like to meet?
Stephen King, hands down.
RH: What book could you read over and over?
Blockade Billy by, you guessed it, Stephen King.
RH: If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
Nothing. I don’t want to know the future. I want to experience the presence.
RH: List the last three books that you've read:
Revival by King, Tales of the Nothing Man by Justin and Robert Dunne and Ceres Exley by Jan Hull.
RH: What is the one thing you cannot live without?
RH: Do you have a favorite quote?
If you want to know something, just ask me, but make sure you want the answer.
RH: What is your favorite drink?
RH: Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Both—I don’t sleep much.
RH: Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
A box of memory sticks in my desk—they contain backups of all of my stories.
RH: If you could be transported back in time and could be any individual, famous or not, who would you be?
Einstein—I would love to know what it is like to be really smart.
RH: Is there anyone you'd like to thank?
My wife, Cate. My kids. Anyone who has ever shelled out money and/or read anything I have ever written.