S.G. Browne

Fiction Friday – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

First of all, I need to make something clear.

I don’t love most of the books I read. If we’re giving one to five stars to books, with five for Loved It, four for Really Liked It, three for Liked It, two for Didn’t Like It, and one for Hated It, the majority of the books I read fall into the Liked It category. Three stars. It takes a lot to get four stars from me. And even more to get five stars.

Now, with all of that said, you’re probably expecting five stars for Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Well, that’s not going to happen. I liked it, so it gets three stars. Why not more? Let me elaborate.

First of all, nothing happens for the first two-hundred pages. Nothing. It’s all back story. Yes, I know it was integral to the plot, but I like my exposition peppered into the narrative, not given to me all in one big chunk. By the time I hit page 200, I was wondering how this book became a best seller because I couldn’t imagine anyone continuing to read it. After all, most people I know have a 50-100 page rule. If the book hasn’t delivered anything by then, it’s on to the next one.

But I stuck with it because I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. And then things finally started to happen. Lots of things. I became intrigued and compelled to keep reading. The characters became interesting. The story got darker and more complex. I wanted to know what happened next. And when it ended, I was happy I hadn’t given up.

That said, I’m not compelled to read the rest of the trilogy. I don’t care enough about the characters to find out what happens next. I know a lot of people love crime thrillers, but I’m not a big fan of them. And to be honest, I didn’t find the writing particularly inspired. It might have been the translation from Swedish to English, but if I’m going to read something similar, I’m much more likely to pick up a Raymond Chandler novel or something by James Ellroy. I find their style of writing much more enjoyable to read.

All in all, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is definitely worth reading. But as for the other two books in the trilogy, I’ll find out what happens by streaming the Swedish film versions on Netflix.

Filed under: Fiction Fridays,Movies and Books — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 6:52 am

Swallowed By the Cracks (Pre-Order)

As I mentioned in last Friday’s blog post, I’m going to have four (mostly) never-before-published short stories appearing in the collection Swallowed By The Cracks, which will debut at the World Horror Convention in Austin, TX,  at the end of this month. I say “mostly” never-before-published because one of the stories, “Lower Slaughter,” appeared in Issue #30 of Outer Darkness in 2005.

But the other three are new.  And one of them, “Dr. Lullaby,” is a bit of a sneak peak at one of the novels I’m currently working on.

In any case, the collection, which also includes stories from Lee Thomas, Gary McMahon, and Michael Marshall Smith, is available for Pre-Order now at the Dark Arts Books bookstore.  And if you’re so inclined, you can check out the official announcement of Swallowed By The Cracks.

Filed under: Fiction — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 8:05 am

You Can Get Here From There

I didn’t always want to write.

In grammar school and junior high, I wanted to be a football player. A wide receiver. Maybe a defensive back. Except at age 14, I was 5’11” and 145 pounds and wasn’t exactly built for the sport. And I don’t like pain. So no NFL career for me.

In high school, I excelled at math. It came easy to me. I loved it so much that I figured I could parlay my aptitude into a career in engineering. This was because I really had no idea what I wanted to do and engineering seemed like a safe career path.

Problem was, I didn’t realize how much I hated physics. And thermodynamics. So after a year of floundering in science classes and watching my high school GPA drop more than a full point, I switched to a major in business. Still no thought of being a writer.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year at UOP, when I started reading a bunch of Stephen King, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, Robert McCammon, and Dean Koontz that I first considered the idea of dabbling at writing. Actually, I can remember the moment when I wanted to become a writer.

I was sitting in my room, reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. While it’s not my favorite novel by either author, I got so caught up in the adventure unfolding within the pages that the world outside of the book ceased to exist. And I thought:  I want to make others feel like this.

I didn’t start pursuing a path of writing at that point but the idea was there. The following semester, I helped with my fraternity’s entry into UOP’s annual Band Frolic – a musical stage competition between all of the living groups (fraternities, sororities, dorms, etc.) Each group was responsible for a fifteen-minute skit that included dancing, singing, acting, and some semblance of a story. We came in second in the men’s category that year. We got screwed.

When the title of Band Frolic Director was passed down to me at the end of my sophomore year, I was now in charge of writing, directing, staging, choreographing, and costuming my fraternity’s Band Frolic. We came in first each of the three years I was director. And after the second year, I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be creative in some way.

So I took a couple of writing classes, graduated with my BS in Business, eschewed by degree, moved to Hollywood and got a job working for Disney, and wrote some short stories and a couple of screenplays. After three years, I moved to Santa Cruz, where I wrote a few dozen short stories and the first of three unpublished novels and where I would eventually write my fourth novel, a dark comedy about zombies, titled Breathers.

So even if you don’t start out having any idea what you want to do, you can still get here from there.

Filed under: The Writing Life — Tags: , , , — S.G. Browne @ 9:22 pm