Interview with Brendan Flaherty, Author of “Hello”

The fifth issue of Geek Force Five, “Hello,” is out today, featuring a story by Brendan Flaherty. In honor of his publication day, I wanted to ask Brendan a few questions about his story, his influences, and his future as a writer.

ECC: Without spoiling the story, what can you tell me about how you came up with Benjamin S. Marshall?

BF: You know, it’s kind of hard to say exactly how I came up with Ben, because his story’s been kicking around in my head for so long—about four years or so at this point. I remember that he first popped up around my senior year of high school. I remember wanting to write something about a badass that was mundane, or at least close to it, and being a contract killer basically requires being a badass. Ben’s background as a soldier is a result of me being a bit of a military nut back then, and because it fit him as a background and as a character. A hitman with a background as an actual soldier was more believable to me than a hitman with a background as a street soldier.

ECC: Which writer has influenced you the most? What is your favorite book by that author?

BF: Stephen King has influenced me above all other writers. My favorite book of his is The Gunslinger. Honorable mention goes to Jim Butcher and the entirety of his Dresden Files, though.

ECC: Most of the writers I encounter these days are influenced by at least one other storytelling medium (TV, movies, video games, etc.). What medium most influences your writing? Why?

BF: I draw inspiration from practically everywhere. Video games, television, music, images, other stories, and elsewhere. Top two are probably music and images, though.

Music inspires me to actually keep working and writing, because it provides a nice backdrop of sound to keep me going. Songs can tell stories, too, though—at least some songs can. Those usually inspire me in one way or another, or give me ideas to try out or work on. I listen to just about everything, though I’ll usually gravitate towards certain genres/artists/albums when working on certain pieces. I've actually assigned leitmotifs to some characters, before. Protagonists, like Ben, usually get more than one, though. When working on something involving Ben, I usually gravitate towards Tech N9ne. I listened to a lot of Pendulum’s Immersion and Celldweller’s Wish Upon a Blackstar while writing a novel in my senior year of high school.

It’s hard to quantify exactly what inspires me in music, but it’s just one of those things that works. I usually draw inspiration from song lyrics or beats, though not always. Sometimes I just like the songs or pieces of them. I believe that’s got something to do with how I actually visualize things as I write—most often the story plays out a bit like a movie in my head, with a soundtrack and all that. It helps that I listen to just about everything.

Images, like drawings or pictures or art or really anything visual, inspire me because I have a pretty overactive imagination, I guess. I've written entire stories based off of drawings I've seen before. Something that sticks out to me in recent memory is a picture I saw online of a patio type thing during the winter. It was a raised wooden room with no far wall. Cozy looking chairs lined the walls, the room was well lit, and the scenery outside was a forest in the middle of winter. For some reason the image really resonated with me, and I wrote down a little blurb of a note to remind myself to use it in writing something. That ties into what I mean when I say I draw inspiration from everywhere; it doesn't take much to get my creative gears going full speed, because they’re never really stopped.

ECC: This is one of your first publications. Where would you like to see your career in 5 years? 20? Writing short stories? Having your seven-book series adapted for the big screen?

BF: Hopefully in 5 years I’ll have gotten one or more of the novels I’ve written published. In any amount of years, I’d like to be still writing, and barring some sort of catastrophe or life crisis, I’m quite sure I will be. Ideally I’d like to be living a sustainable life as a novelist. I don’t really need to be pulling in Stephen King or J.K. Rowling money (though that would be awesome), but I’d like to make a living off of writing. As much as I love short stories, my heart lies with longer fare.

In 5 years, I’d like to be somewhere in the middle of a book series. In 20, maybe I’ll be finished with the series, working on another, and seeing the first one’s adaptations in theaters. And hopefully enjoying them.

You never know, though.

Check out Hello (Geek Force Five #5) today, available in print and electronically!