I know, I know, you’re wondering. How in the world did you of all people land an interview with Bryan Bliss of No Parking at the End Times? Well, I looked up his contact information, emailed him, explained who I was, and asked very politely if I could just ask a few quick questions. 20 minutes later I had an email from Bryan Bliss, saying he’d be happy to. So, that’s how I managed to do that.
So, all these questions are my questions, and all the answers are his answers. This was not edited at all and is as raw as it get’s. And I hope you enjoy some of the amazing advice he gives. I know I did.
1. What was it like writing about a person of the opposite gender and did you have any relatable moments with Abigail?
From the first sentence I ever wrote for the book–“Brother John never said we’d be living in our van.”–I knew that Abigail was the main character. And I can’t really say why except that I could hear her voice with every word I typed. Now, I’m not saying I could actually hear her voice. But with every move within the story, I knew it was her story. And because it was her story, I didn’t have much trouble figuring out what happened and how she might react. And I think that’s where I related to her most. I understand what it’s like to lose faith in someone–even to lose faith in, um, your faith. After that, I let some trusted friends and family members read it and give me notes on whether I was being blind to my characterization of her as a teen girl.
2. In school did you like English or did the connection click after schooling?
Short answer: yes. But I didn’t realize I was a good writer until I started working on my school newspaper. My high school offered “Journalism” as a class you could take instead of the regular English course. I loved it and I really found a place where I could excel. Mrs. Martin–my journalism teacher–was one of the first teachers I ever had who said: “Hey, you’re good at this.” The fact that this didn’t happen until my sophomore year of high school is a bit depressing… but it made an impact. And it’s a major reason why I write today.
3. Are there any specific people in your life that inspired this book?
Not really. My parents are great and I never had to worry about them selling all of our possessions to greet the end of the world. But there seems to be a large supply of crazy religious people in the world, especially of the Christian variety. So I’d seen street corner preachers with their signs and bullhorns plenty of times. Coming from a solidly moderate-to-liberal Christian background, those interactions were a mix of confusion, anger, and fascination. What makes these people tick? Why do they feel the need to come to a college campus to yell at me about homosexuality or premarital sex or…whatever? Once I got the idea, I became fascinated with how a situation like this would play out in a family. How do you come back from this–especially when your parents have completely lost their minds!
4. Are you working on anything at the moment?
My second book–Meet Me Here–will be out in the world May 31st, 2016. It’s the story of a guy who’s on his way to the Army, but he’s got some serious cold feet due to his brother’s PTSD. When his best friend from years and years ago–Mallory–shows up on graduation night, they end up trying to rekindle the spark (of friendship) they had years ago. Other than that, I’m working on my third book–but I’m still not really talking about it yet, except to say that it’s probably the most ambitious thing I’ve ever tried to write.
5. How much research went into this book?
Um… not much! I have a graduate degree in theology and I spend a lot of time in my day job thinking about how teenagers comprehend and think about religion. So I drew on a lot of that experience when I was coming up with the different plot points. The one thing I did research was–of all things–snake handlers. I wanted to understand religion that would be considered cultish by most people. It was interesting to watch those videos, not to mention read the comments. It’s easy to dismiss things without trying to understand them, but I wanted to know why Brother John felt compelled to put up billboards and predict the end of the world.
6. Do you have a special time of the day to write or how is your day structured?
I normally write at night, but that’s more a necessity than an intentional decision. I have a full-time job and a family, so I try really hard to avoid working through dinner or during various sporting events or other kid activities. Deadlines and other publishing emergencies sometimes trump those rules, but rarely. At this point in my career, I can write wherever and whenever. I try really hard not to have any kind of rituals. That way I can just open my laptop and knock out some words–whether it’s five for five thousand.
7. Where does the inspiration come from to write?
Deadlines and an editor who is on Twitter are pretty good inspiration! In all seriousness, inspiration happens all the time. It’s in the line at the grocery store. It’s walking around my neighborhood or at the gym. I tend to watch (not creepy, hopefully…) and listen (again, not creepy) people a lot. It’s amazing what you can pick up and what it will kickstart in your imagination. I think the best thing a writer can do is a.) read and b.) get out in the world, even if that means your high school.
8. And lastly, any tips for new journalists or novelists?
Write and read. As much as you can. That’s stock advice that you’ll see everywhere, but it’s so true. And once you’ve got a solid reading and writing discipline going, get rid of all the voices in your head telling you not to do it and just sit down and write. Take a risk and say something important and big and crazy. If you do that long enough, you’ll eventually stumble into a story that you really want to tell. And your readers will thank you.
So, that’s all. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. If you want to know more about Bryan his website is available by clicking here. Also, again his book is called No Parking at the End Times if you have not read it. And also check out Meet Me Here when it comes out on May 31, 2016. Which is way too far away. Okay are as ecstatic as I am about this interview! And also a HUGE thank you to Bryan Bliss! There was absolutely no reason for him to answer my questions. So, thank you for having a heart of gold! Well, that’s all guys. Blog to you later! ~Blondie