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Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
I have two places for writing. My favorite is my recliner, which sports a view out the window of the surrounding spruce forest. We keep seeds on the window shelf for the birds and our resident squirrel, which the cat finds entertaining. The second and perhaps my best writing place is a small windowless wooden box I built in our basement. It is a great distraction-free office.
What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
I had a motocross accident when I was a teenager and shattered my dominant wrist. As a consequence, I have endured a few surgeries and then later in life, a titanium bone replacement. Handwriting and long-term typing is painful so I use voice for rough drafts and larger revisions but I edit with the keyboard. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional for voice typing and do most of my work in Word, but I’ve started using Scrivener for larger works, which is a great organizational tool once you get past the learning curve.
What is your routine for writing?
I get up early in a quiet house, have a small breakfast and then dive butt first into my recliner with coffee and laptop. I write until distractions arise and then escape to my office and write some more. In the winter, I write for about six hours a day and sometimes go ten hours. Barb brings me hot tea and tells callers that I’m indisposed until I emerge. She is the best wife a writer could have.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was about twelve but at sixteen my wrist injury squashed it. I was welding ships on the Dutch Harbor crab, cod, and pollock fleets when I discovered the computer and word processor. That was the mid-nineties. My boss wanted detailed work, logs so I got creative and he got entertained. Every job had stories to go with it. I began with nonfiction, which grew when I went back to college in ‘02 to become a pilot but I didn’t get serious about my writing until 2009 when I went under the knife to have my distal ulna replaced with a titanium ball. I had to be off work for five months so I wrote my first novel with voice and one-handed typing. There was no stopping. I could no longer not-write. I gave up my full-time position and took a seasonal position flying during the busy hunting season. I wish I would have had the courage to do it sooner. When you love something like writing, you have to make time for it.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
I write for myself first and then figure out who the audience is after. Once I get started and see the shape of my story, I then guide it where I hope it needs to go. One time I started writing in an early morning and caffeine deficient state, clueless to what it would be, and three hours later realized the story was YA. Most of my work is historical fiction but I like to dabble with fantasy, science fiction, YA, and dystopian. Sometimes I blend genres. One of these days I’d like to take a crack at a crime thriller seasoned with horror.
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
I love a beautiful landscape but I think random conversations inspire most of my ideas. I have yet to experience writer’s block. I just write. I’ll keep or delete it but something always comes along. I thank my dad for my gift of gab because I always have something to say and therefore, something to write, which is good since I’m better off keeping my mouth shut and my keyboard busy.
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
Barb and I used to dance a lot but that was before we homesteaded and moved to the frontier. I’m fond of outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, and I love my seasonal work as a bush pilot—flying along the peaks of the Wrangell Mountains will inspire anyone to poetry. I like audiobooks when doing anything solo except scuba diving, and I enjoy watching movies with Barb and working with her in our garden.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
I love the rush of a good roll. When the words come faster than voice or fingers can keep up and the pages fill before my very eyes—it is to that which I am happily addicted.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Have fun. Read what you like and write what you want. If you do a lot of both, you’ll get guidance and practice, and that’s what it takes to get good at it.
Check out Brian’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.
Brian K. Kerley is a full-time writer and seasonal Alaskan bush pilot with degrees in English and aviation, and he will complete his MFA in creative writing in 2018. He teaches writing and flight and enjoys the outdoors, playing with his cat, and making his wife laugh at least once a day.