Interview with Bill A. Brier, author of The Killer Who Hated Soup
23 Oct 2017
What can you tell us about your new release, The Killer Who Hated Soup?
The car, dripping with sludge, hung from a crane. “Honey, get in here—quick,” I called from the TV room to my wife. In 1957, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in honor of the state’s fifty years of statehood, put to rest a brand new Plymouth Belvedere under the courthouse lawn, figuring that fifty years later, they’d bring it back to life.
So they thought.
It was now 2007, the state’s one-hundredth birthday, and the whole town came out, nervous as crickets on a dance floor. In the car were hundreds of postcards, on which citizens had written their guesses of the town’s now current census. The person with the closest guess (or, their descendant) would be given a hardy handshake and the keys to the classic automobile.
Unfortunately, the winner got neither. After decades of hibernating in cold, wet darkness, the car that emerged was no more than, well, a rust bucket. The Belvedere’s concrete vault was not up to fifty years of trucks rumbling past on the street above.
As I watched the car lowered to the ground, and the slimy brown covering being peeled back like diseased skin, I thought to myself, There’s a story inside that car’s trunk. Hence, the birth of The Killer Who Hated Soup. And the title? An author’s gotta keep some secrets!
What’s the last book you read?
I’m now reading, “SOMEBODY, the Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of MARLON BRANDO,” by Stefan Kanfer, who describes the famed actor: “Before Brando, actors acted. After Brando, they behaved.” Marlon and I go way back. He was on a movie set once, talking on a phone, and as I walked past, he winked at me. Those were the days.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I worry a lot. Am I getting this done? Am I getting that done? What about this? What about that? But it’s not so bad. By the time I start worrying about that, I’ve forgotten about this.
Where is your happy place? Why does it bring you joy?
Lying down and thinking … and then dozing is my happy place. Because I like letting my mind wonder … and wander … and then I wake up refreshed, often with a new idea.
What inspires your book ideas?
I tried waiting for inspiration, but when it didn’t work, I buckled down and followed Glenn Frey’s example
It was the 1970s, and the rock star was living in a cheap apartment above Jackson Browne’s. Every morning he’d hear Browne’s teapot go off. Then a few notes on his piano. Over and over and over. Each time, a little different. Then a second verse, and the same thing, again and again. It would be quiet awhile, then once more that first verse on the piano, and it would start all over again. Ah, ha, Frey thought. So that’s how it’s done. Not through inspiration, not by waiting for great ideas to float into your head. Elbow grease … time … thought … persistence.
Who was your first literary hero?
My first literary hero was Sydney Sheldon. I hadn’t heard of him until I worked on the production of one of his stories for TV. I loved the story so much that I immediately went out and bought all of his paperbacks.
I appreciated his use of parallel action. He often had two stories going on at once, which eventually came together at the end. But what I liked most was that although I felt terribly disappointed when a chapter ended—he was a master at writing cliffhangers—I’d turn the page and be thrilled to pick up where the previous story had left off.
My second literary hero was Elmore Leonard, who taught me to cut out the boring parts. “Anything that doesn’t show character development, move the story forward, or put readers on the edges of their seats, must be thrown in the scrap heap!”
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I take after Bucky. Live and let live. I love everybody and respect all people and all animals (unless I’m attacked by either).
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