Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Frederick Lee Brooke – Life as a Writer in the Old World

Life as a Writer in the Old World
by Frederick Lee Brooke

Some people move to California, where the weather is warm. Some people pick up stakes and move to Texas, where the jobs are. I moved to Europe to teach English. I didn’t have a grand plan. I didn’t know I was going to stay for the next 20 years.

After a few years of teaching in France, Germany and Switzerland, I was promoted to manager of a language school in Basel, Switzerland. I immersed myself in the world of small business, selling language courses, meeting with customers, hiring and training teachers.

The language training business is a very satisfying one. People come in as total beginners, and after a short time they have basic speaking skills. They can use their new language skills to order food in a restaurant, talk to a doctor or dentist, or complain about a phone bill. After a year or more, they have learned enough to get through a job interview in the foreign language, or conduct a meeting.

People often learn a language because of a relationship. So we often have the satisfaction of knowing we are helping people communicate with friends and loved ones as we teach them a language.

But after more than 20 years in the business, despite the satisfaction of knowing we were doing important work, something was missing for me. Day after day there were the same squabbles with customers or staff who didn’t like the rules. Every day there was the same pressure to improve quality while cutting costs. Every year we would add up the numbers and figure out the profit or the loss.

I always wanted to write fiction, and I started writing my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, in 2008, while still working full time running my language school. I wrote mostly on weekends and during vacations, while the family was out skiing. It took two and a half years to write, and I discovered that I was happiest when I was working on my manuscript.

After spending almost a year trying to get an agent interested in Doing Max Vinyl, I discovered the new world of publishing independently on Amazon and Smashwords. It was a great feeling to have finished Doing Max Vinyl. As soon as my first book was available I started writing the sequel, Zombie Candy. In Zombie Candy there is a long sequence that takes place in Tuscany, a part of Italy where I love spending time. Now I’m working on the third book in the series.

I’ve been able to quit my job running the language school in order to devote most of my time to writing. Of course, there has been some belt tightening in our family with this decision. But I think life is too short to stay in the rat race permanently. Instead of adding up the numbers at the end of every week, month and year, now I get to play with language and concoct stories out of my imagination.

It doesn’t matter where you live, as a writer. What matters is where you go in your mind, when you are reading or writing. Now, all the borders and boundaries come down when I start my work every day.

Believe me, I am aware of how lucky I am.

From the author:

I write books because I love playing with language, on the one hand, and creating characters and seeing what crazy things they will do if you set them free. I've spent more than 20 years living in different European countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland. I speak French, German and Italian, and I've been learning Turkish for the last five years just for fun.

My books are mysteries, for lack of a better word. Doing Max Vinyl is about a computer recycling con man, while Zombie Candy is about a serial adulterer who happens to love zombie movies. In both books, Annie Ogden, a recently returned Iraq War vet who is having trouble adjusting to civilian life, gets personally involved in taking down these world-class jerks. I like a book with a good dose of humor, and the humor can come from the absurd situations people find themselves in. The world we live in is an absurd place, and you can either laugh or cry about it.

When I'm not writing I'm usually reading. I like to write book reviews. Of course I love it when people review my books, too. I like to cook and sometimes post recipes on my blog. Zombie Candy contains most of the recipes in the book in an annex at the end. I also like to hike and travel and learn about other cultures.


Buy Now @Amazon
Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Horror
Rating – PG13