S.G. Browne

My Favorite Reads of 2012

Well, that year went by fast. It seems like just last March I was getting my first book published. And the summer before that I was graduating from college. And the year before that I was playing with Tinker Toys and Hot Wheels.

Like Ferris Bueller says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Which brings us to my Favorite Reads of 2012. If you didn’t stop to look around your bookstore once in a while, you might have missed these. Fortunately, if you were remiss, you can still remedy that for 2013.

Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore
My favorite of the favorites, this is vintage Christopher Moore. And I’m a sucker for Impressionist art. When I finished this, I felt like I had a long way to go to rival the writing acumen of Moore.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Recommended to me by my friend Bill Breedlove, this tale of two hired guns during the California gold rush is dark and quirky and funny and sad all at the same time.

City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore
A zombie noir novel with a nice humorous bite and a visual flair. Every time I turned on my Netflix, I wished this was a TV series so I could watch the next episode.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Harry Potter meets The Narnia Chronicles, with deft writing, compelling characters, and a nice, subtle creepiness lurking just beneath the surface.

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
King’s collection of five dark, unforgiving stories about people who have fallen over the edge into the abyss. There are no happy endings here, only excellent storytelling.

Honorable Mentions
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Feel free to agree or disagree or share your own favorite reads of 2012. And Happy New Year!

Filed under: Fiction,Fiction Fridays,Movies and Books — S.G. Browne @ 9:18 am

When Bad Reviews Are Good

FATEDIt’s no secret that authors enjoy receiving positive reviews of their novels. We like four and five star assessments complete with gushing, flattery, and an abundance of comments that make us sound a lot smarter than we are.

We also enjoy receiving e-mails from readers who have read one of our novels and had it affect them exactly the way we’d intended. Or who, after reading said novel, were compelled to write a novel themselves. Or who looked at their world in a different manner than they did before reading your novel.

Sometimes, however, we don’t connect with a reader. It’s part of the job description. Writing, like any art, is subjective and not everyone is going to enjoy your perspective or point of view or sense of humor. So we have to understand that and let the bad or negative reviews slide off us like the proverbial water off a duck.

After several novels, I’ve more or less managed to do this and I don’t give any energy to a review from someone who didn’t connect in a positive way with one of my novels. But every now and then, I come across a less-than-flattering review that I find just as enjoyable as a five-star ego massage.

Case in point: the following two-star review for my novel Fated:

“It’s sick and twisted and quite frankly, if I had known it contained these types of scenes and concepts against Christianity, I would never have read it. If you’re a Christian, you will probably be offended by this book.”

While I don’t agree with the blanket statement about how all Christians will react to Fated, this person obviously found the material objectionable. This makes me happy. As an author of social satire, if I’m not offending someone, then as far as I’m concerned, I’m not doing my job.

And if anyone was offended by the irreverent tone and content of Fated, wait until they get a load of the sequel.

Filed under: Fated — S.G. Browne @ 7:14 am

The Next Big Thing: BIG EGOS

Welcome to The Next Big Thing, a meme or so-called blog-hop, where authors answer questions about their latest or upcoming work and then tag up to five more authors to do the same thing a week later. It’s kind of like a chain letter, only you don’t die if you forget to send it on.

So last week, Christopher Golden tagged me in desperation because he’d forgotten all about his Next Big Thing blog post that was due. Naturally, I’m a sucker for a desperate author. Plus, Chris had included my short story “Reality Bites” in his latest and greatest zombie anthology 21st Century Dead, so I didn’t want to leave him hanging.

Anyway, here are the questions along with my answers. Afterwards, you’ll get to hear what Chris had to say about the other lovely authors tagged along with me, followed by the authors I suckered into this.

The Next Big Thing: BIG EGOS

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Back in 1997 I wrote a short story about a designer drug that allowed you to become a dead celebrity or fictional character. I have no idea where the idea for the short story came from.

What genre does your book fall under?
Dark comedy and social satire. It’s not technically a genre. It’s really just commercial fiction. My novels don’t really fall into any single genre.

Which actors would play your characters in a movie version?
I think Ryan Gosling could probably nail the role of my unnamed narrator. Others actors who would be a good fit for characters in BIG EGOS include Aaron Paul, Emily Blunt, and Jennifer Lawrence.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An unnamed, unreliable narrator discovers that Big Egos, the latest thing in role-playing, is affecting his concept of reality, causing him to question his own identity and the role he is meant to play.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
BIG EGOS will be published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and is represented by Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management.

How long did it take you to write the first draft ?
I started writing BIG EGOS in November 2009 but stopped to write Lucky Bastard. I picked it back up in January 2011 and finished a rough first draft four months later. But certain things weren’t working the way I wanted them to, so it took me more than a year to get it right.

What other books would you compare this story to?
The story was originally told completely out of order and bounced around the memories of an unreliable narrator, so while I wouldn’t compare it to them, I always imagined it as a mutant child of Slaughterhouse-Five and American Psycho.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The original inspiration came from the short story I wrote in 1997, but I wanted to expand on that and explore the idea of what happens to your identity when you’re constantly pretending to be someone you’re not.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
You can read the short story the novel is based upon, “My Ego is Bigger Than Yours,” in my collection  Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel. Oh, and BIG EGOS is scheduled for publication August 2013.


There you go. Or, as Porky Pig would say, that’s all folks. As I mentioned, the incomparable Christopher  Golden tagged me, along with the following three fantastic writers whom you should have on your radar. Here’s what Chris had to say about them:

Cherie Priest is the author of the hugely successful Clockwork Century novels, including Boneshaker and the latest, The Inexplicables. She’s also written creepy-as-all-get-out Southern Gothic supernatural tales and urban fantasy, has dynamite fashion sense, and different hair every time I see her.

Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the ass-kicking urban fantasy Black London novels and the YA series The Iron Codex, which has the best titles. I mean, book two is The Nightmare Garden, that’s pretty damn cool. She once told me that she’s not ready for the zombie apocalypse but she is prepared for the kitten apocalypse. Make of that what you will.

Yes, Amber Benson is the author of the Death’s Daughter series of urban fantasy novels, among other things, and yes, she’s an actress-writer-director who has been elevated to the status of cult icon in recent years. She’s also my little sister, gave me the best nickname ever, and commandeers my daughter’s “princess bed” at every opportunity.


And in keeping with the spirit of The Next Big Thing meme, behold the authors I suckered into doing this, who are all terrific in their own right. Check out their posts next Tuesday, December 18th.

Mario Acevedo is the author of Werewolf Smackdown, Jailbait Zombie, and The Undead Kama Sutra, among others. He is a man of much funny. Read him, but only if you want to laugh.

Steve Hockensmith wrote the New York Times bestselling Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After (the prequel and sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), as well as the mystery/western series, Holmes on the Range. He is also a man of much funny.

Scott Kenemore followed up his humorous Zen of Zombie humor/satire series with the novels Zombie, Ohio and Zombie, Illinois. Hey, what happened to Indiana? Scott is also a man. Also funny.

John Hornor Jacobs is the author of the novels Southern Gods and This Dark Earth. While not likely to hit your funny bone, they should be on your TBR list. I’m not joking. (NOTE: John has already posted his entry on his blog.)

Filed under: Big Egos,Fiction,The Writing Life — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 6:55 am

Movie Review Monday: Eight is Enough

No, this isn’t a review of a film adaptation of the late 1970s TV series starring the Bradford family, so if you were hoping for a Willie Aames or a Lani O’Grady sighting, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Instead, this blog post is an accumulation of brief thoughts about a number of films I’ve seen that were released this year. Eight, to be exact. Since I didn’t bother to mention them individually, I decided to share them all in one place. It costs less that way. More economical. And I’m a stickler for good deals.

So in alphabetical order, here are the eight films I’ve seen over the past couple of months that I thought were worth mentioning:

Argo – I’ve been on the Ben Affleck train for a while now, ever since he directed Gone Baby Gone in 2007, and his latest is not a disappointment. It takes a talented director to take a story about which everyone knows the outcome and make it compelling. Personally, I think The Town (which Affleck directed in 2010) was better, but this is still good stuff.

Flight – A heavy story peppered with humor (mostly in the guise of John Goodman) about an airline pilot in denial about his substance abuse. Good acting and the story seems to hit most of the right notes. Oh, and the crash sequence that sets up the plot is pretty cool.

Life of Pi – I read the book ten years ago and was excited to see what they did with it, so I forgave the first thirty or so minutes of slow back story. Yes, the 3D was visually enjoyable but I don’t think it added much to the tale. Fun to watch but for me, this is definitely one of those “read the book” films.

Lincoln – Starring Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, and Abraham Lincoln. Seriously, where the hell was Daniel Day-Lewis? He was Lincoln, as far as I’m concerned, which helped to make me feel like I was watching history. A bit heavy on the political machinations of mid-19th century but well worth the price of admission.

The Master – I’m a Paul Thomas Anderson fan and loved Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch Drunk Love. While this one tends to drag a little and the story (to me) doesn’t really matter, the acting, especially by Joaquin Phoenix, is superb. It’s a shame that Phoenix will likely lose out to Daniel Day-Lewis when it comes to award season, because he deserves to win.

Seven Psychopaths – If you liked In Bruges and/or enjoy dark, twisted comedies, you won’t want to miss this gem from Irish playwright/screenwriter/director Martin McDonagh. Plus it has Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson. Win!

Silver Linings Playbook – While it’s probably not going to win any awards for best picture, it was the best movie I’ve seen this year. Good acting, good script, good story, with lots of emotional pulls in various directions. Now I need to read the book.

Skyfall – Is it just me or are the last few Bond films lacking in any warmth or charm? Unlike with Connery and Brosnan, I don’t have any connection with Daniel Craig’s 007. He’s just so humorless and so are the films. Meh.

Okay, those are my takes on these eight films. If you’ve seen any of them and want to share your thoughts, fire away. Or if you have other films you’ve seen recently that you’d like to recommend, that works, too.

Filed under: Move Review Monday,Movies and Books — S.G. Browne @ 11:54 am