Short, Sharp Interview: Bracken MacLeod


PDB: Can you pitch WHITE KNIGHT in 25 words or less?

BNM: A jaded assistant district attorney trying to help a battered woman makes a promise he can’t keep. A promise that might just cost him everything.


PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

BNM: I’m always behind on television because I like to wait for things on DVD or streaming so I don’t have to deal with commercials. I just finished season two of Vikings and loved it. As far as music goes, the new Behemoth album, The Satanist, has got my motor running in the red. Books are always my favorite things to talk about though. The book that has moved me the most in the last six months has been Andre Dubus III’s The Garden of Last Days. I really regret waiting as long as I did to pull that one off of my to-read pile. Also, Rob Hart’s novella, The Last Safe Place convinced me that I shouldn’t be as unwilling to read zombie fiction as I am. That book was awesome!


PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

BNM:  It’s difficult. When I’m reading I sometimes think about how I would do something differently if I were the author. Moreover, being a better editor has slowed down my reading by about half. I get frustrated more easily with typos and continuity errors than I did years ago. Having said that, I know a book is truly remarkable when I stop reading like a writer or an editor and live in the story. Those are the books I want to go back to a second and a third time, slow down, and really see what it was the author did that made me ignore everything but where the words took me. So, the answer to your question is, if the story is good enough, I think so.


PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

BNM: Years ago I tried writing a couple of plays, but I never finished one. I don’t find the same pleasure in it that I do writing prose. I’m not as good at crafting a rich setting and characters with real depth when I limit myself to dialogue and scene blocking. For now, I’ll leave good scriptwriting to the people who really shine at it.


 PDB: How much research goes into each book?

It depends on the book. The technical aspects of WHITE KNIGHT were mostly drawn from personal experience working in the law; I didn’t need to delve too deep into finding out how criminal courts work. My first novel, MOUNTAIN HOME, required a considerable amount more research, however. I needed to learn as much as I could about military snipers and the guns that featured in the story, for example. I hate being wrong about little details. I don’t mind that I might lose a few readers because they don’t like my style or story-telling–you can’t write for everyone–but the idea of disappointing a reader because I was too lazy to find out how something important to them works drives me crazy.


PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

BNM: Some of it is very important to me as a writer. It depends on the level of interactivity. I use Facebook and Google+ (less so) primarily to keep my relationships with other creative people fresh and active. I’m very good friends with a few writers who I only get to see one or two weekends of the year at conventions (or Illuminati meetings). Facebook is very useful for me to keep in touch with them. Occasionally, I’ll get a message from a reader telling me how much they enjoyed something I did (no hate mail yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time), and that never gets old. It’s nice to be able to connect with people like that who only know me through my work. Other platforms, like Twitter and Pinterest aren’t as inspiring or useful to me, because they’re not very interactive. I keep them in order to occasionally advertise what I’ve got going on.



PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?


I’m working on a new full-length novel about tattooing and human trafficking, tentatively titled “Marked.” That probably won’t see the light of day until 2015, though. When I’m finished with the first draft of that book, I intend to go back and edit a novella I promised to deliver to the good folks at Necon E-Books, and hopefully finish putting together a short story collection. We’ll see about that. In the immediate future, I have a couple of short stories in the pipeline. The one I’m most excited for is called Thirteen Views of the Suicide Woods. It’s coming out in the Issue 9 of Shock Totem later this year.



Bio: Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a university philosophy instructor, for a children’s non-profit, and as a criminal and civil trial attorney.  While he tries to avoid using the law education, he occasionally finds uses for the martial arts and philosophy training. His work has appeared in several magazines and anthologies including Shotgun Honey, Every Day Fiction, LampLight Magazine, Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, Ominous Realities, and most recently, Beat to a Pulp Magazine. His novel, MOUNTAIN HOME, debuted last spring and WHITE KNIGHT, a novella, is coming this June from One Eye Press. You can find him occasionally at and always on Twitter and Facebook.


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