After graduating from college, Alan spent twenty years as a criminal investigator before earning a law degree. I worked first as a prosecutor then as a defense attorney for over thirty years. Travels for the U.S. Government took me to several European and Middle Eastern countries. While contracted to the U.S. Army, I resided in Berlin, Germany. I married a retired Army officer. She and I live in the Austin, Texas, area.
Under the pen name of Alan Brenham, I have published five crime fiction novels, Price of Justice (2013), Cornered (2014), Rampage (2015), Game Piece (2018), and Hidden Intentions (2020), with an
established publisher. All five novels have garnered numerous awards and endorsements. A sixth novel is under contract to an established publisher in Ireland.
INTERVIEW WITH ALAN
Can you tell us a little about your background?
My background includes twenty years as a law enforcement officer and thirty years as a prosecutor and later as a criminal defense attorney. After retirement, I decided to write crime fiction, using my experiences to craft stories and characters.
How did you get started as an author?
A- I had always loved to read so, after retirement, I went back to reading novels. With a few under my belt, I decided to write crime fiction. I relied on my work experiences and cases as well as my international travels as a federal marshal to craft stories and characters.
Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?
My latest book features the adventures and difficulties a young deaf woman faced while living alone in Paris, France. The inspiration for it came from my own loss of hearing as well as my time living in Europe.
How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?
My writing routine is to start the day rereading the preceding chapter before beginning to craft the next chapter. I tried creating an outline and character profiles. What works for me is to write the story then go back to begin revisions.
Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?
The main challenge I faced in Every Silent Thing was creating a believable deaf character. Although I have a loss of hearing, I’m not deaf so the challenge was how to make Claire Devereaux come alive. To solve it, I linked up with a female Canadian author who is deaf. She was kind enough to provide responses to Claire’s scenes – how she would remain fully aware of her surroundings in public, communication skills, and her individual outlook and behavior in interpersonal relationships, particularly with those who didn’t know sign language.
Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?
For the two recent stories set in Paris and Rome, I spent a good amount of research time viewing Google Maps to perfect the setting. My niece spent a good deal of time in both cities so I relied on her input for specifics for both. With the main character being deaf, I spent time learning some aspects of American (ASL) and French (LSF) sign language.
How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?
My wife is nothing short of genius when it comes to curing my writers block episodes. She has a knack for presenting the right question/suggestion concerning the story that ends the slump. It’s worked since I began writing in 2012.
Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?
I am currently working on a police procedural set in Fort Worth, Tx, featuring a young Native American detective who is learning how to deal with racial and ethnic sniping by another detective while the two of them reluctantly work together to solve a homicide case.
Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?
The staff with my first publisher was easy to work with and very helpful. After the staff retired/resigned, the company was taken over by one person and seems to be closing down. Regarding my new publisher (Tirgearr), It’s like going from a dark room into one well-lit.
How do you market your book and connect with readers?
I used reader connections built through my extended family and from former co-workers from my law enforcement days. For marketing/promotions, I rely on connections from social media and paid services for book reviews and book promotions. I’ve also connected with a few New York Times bestselling authors for endorsements.
Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?
The only genres I’ve written in are mystery-police procedural- and thriller. I’ve considered others such as horror and sci-fi. As of today, I have no plans to expand my genre list beyond mystery and thriller.
Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?
The chief literary influences that shaped my writing were crime fiction and thriller authors such as Michael McGarrity, Robert Crais, and Lee Gimenez. Early on, I had read some of McGarrity’s police procedural novels. They motivated me to create my first character (Detective Jason Scarsdale) in a 2012 novel and its two sequels. Crais impressed me with his style of a wise-assed PI playing off his no-nonsense no-humor partner. Gimenez’ books introduced me to using a female as the lead character.
How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?
As a twenty-some veteran of law enforcement, I learned to develop a thick skin when it came to criticism. I carried that forward into my writing career. Everyone has an opinion and suggestions as to how a scene or character should be crafted. I read them and consider some. I do submit my story drafts to a beta reader and adjust the missteps accordingly.
As for negative reviews, I rely on a quote by the poet John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”
Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?
I use paid promotional services, book reviews, and word of mouth to promote and advertise my novels. The experience has been overall decent. Of course, I wish I could have more book reviews and sell a ton of books.
How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?
No worries there. I use a five-hour period six days a week to write then spend the remainder doing the items on my wife’s honey-do list. The evenings are entirely devoted to spending quality time with my wife.