10 Questions for Veronica Brush
Veronica Brush is the author of First Grave on Mars and its sequels in The Martian Murders, a near-future sci-fi series set on the red planet. Her work has been featured in Apex Magazine, the Mad Scientist Journal, Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, Fireside Quarterly, and the anthologies Bubble Off Plumb, Do Not Go Quietly, and I Didn’t Break the Lamp.
What was the first thing you remember reading?
Hop on Pop. My mom was so excited and told me I should be proud of myself for reading my first book, but I told her that what my big sisters did was reading and I couldn’t read. Not sure what I thought the difference was, but I remember feeling very strongly about it.
Who are your biggest influences?
My grandmother was a mystery writer and so I saw the writing life growing up first hand. She also instilled a love of mysteries in me. Growing up, I went to Agatha Christie plays with her and they terrified me and I loved them. My sisters got me watching Star Trek from a young age, so I’m sure that played a part in me becoming interested in science fiction.
What book or movie did you enjoy that not many people would think you’d like?
The M. Night Shyamalan movie “Lady in the Water.” It did not get good reviews, and a lot of people seem to really hate it, but it speaks to me. I do wish more people liked it, but at the same time, the movie is about this traveler who comes with a message for one specific person, and I feel like this movie was made specifically for me! It had a message for me, and I’m sorry it didn’t work for other people, but I’m so glad it exists for me!
Tell the readers about your books/stories/projects you’ve worked on or published.
I have half a dozen short stories published in various magazines and anthologies. They’re all science fiction or fantasy. Some of them are free to read online. You can find out about them at VeronicaBrush.com. As for books, I’m in the midst of a novella series about murder in the first colony on Mars. I had read about an actual company that wanted to send ordinary people on a one-way mission to colonize Mars and my first two thoughts were: “That’s going to be a disaster!” and “I want to write about that!” So I did. Luckily that company never got off the ground, but the disaster lives on in my series.
Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you create?
My environment is usually filled with barking dogs and random knick-knacks, like a mini toy anteater and a giant pair of plastic red scissors. I like to think I fill my stories with unexpected twists, so maybe being in an environment filled with unexpected things influences that.
Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
Sometimes having an assignment is nice. With short stories, it’s great for me to have a jumping-off point. I like when anthologies or magazines are looking not just for sci-fi stories, but sci-fi stories involving fish or with a theme of forgiveness or that take place on a moon or whatever. Something that doesn’t limit you too much, but narrows down the possibilities, because especially with science fiction, there are so many possibilities. So I appreciate having a piece of the puzzle to begin with that I can then build off of in any direction I want. And if my creativity takes me too far from the original requirement, I usually write the story as I want it to be and just submit it elsewhere.
What are your methods of creating a story or novel?
I’m a committed pantser, which means I don’t plan or outline. I just sit down and fly by the seat of my pants. Usually, I have an idea of what the main plot point is and I might have glimpses of scenes that have played out in my head. A couple of times I have sat down to write with no idea what I was going to write and just started typing. That was exciting, like being led somewhere with your eyes closed, wondering where you are being taken and what you’re going to see when you open your eyes. But having a story in your head that you’re in love with and sitting down to write it is exciting, too, in a different way.
And then you get to the end of page 1, look at how long it’s taken you to write that, and think, “Man! This is going to take forever!” and it becomes less exciting.
Once I’ve started writing, I keep writing and don’t worry about editing, because that is a different step that will happen after the rough draft is all done. There might be little changes I make along the way or scenes I realize I need to add, but for the most part, the writing phase is just about getting words on the page.
If I get horribly stuck, that’s when I’ll break down and make an outline. I’ll write a few sentences about each plot point that I think is going to happen next and that often helps me make new discoveries about where the book is going, which gets me unstuck.
Once I’ve got a rough draft, I go back and edit it myself. Then there’s beta readers and editors and so much more editing, you just want to punch your computer, and then, ta-da, you have a book or short story.
And while all that editing is going on, I’ve started writing the next story.
What have you written that you are most proud of?
I’m always fondest of whatever I have finished writing most recently. But I recently realized that the book I’m editing now is the 10th book I’ve ever written, and I had to step back and think about how most people don’t ever write one book and some people try and find they can’t even write one. But at the point where I’ve written ten, and that’s an accomplishment.
Now the first 5 books I ever wrote are never going to be published. I started writing when I was fairly young and they are not up to the level that I would ever feel good putting them out there. But they were training, they helped me develop my craft and they still matter even though they aren’t something I’m going to publish.
What was the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to do in your writing career?
Usually favors for my friends. They’ll say, “Veronica’s a writer! She could totally do this!” and it will be writing some sort of advertising copy or poetry or something that could not be further from science fiction writing. And I’ll always try, but I don’t think people realize that one kind of writing is not like another, so just because I’m good at one kind doesn’t mean I’m good at all the others. Some of my friends that know me better have a joke that I’m a great editor, but you should never have me review your resume because I’ll recommend you put a murder in it.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m writing what I believe will be the last book in my Martian Murders series, although I have a perfect streak of believing every book in this series so far was the last one. The characters just won’t quit! So we’ll see what happens there. Then there are multiple books that I have started and I’m not sure yet which one I want to focus on most. I’m going to have to have a gladiator-style battle between the 3 of them to see which one gets to be next.