Sunday, August 9, 2009
INTERVIEW with AUTHOR BRON BAHLMANN
I had the delight to meet fifteen-year-old fantasy author, Bron Bahlmann, at a writers' conference last spring. He's a tall, unassuming young man who handles his success with little fanfare. I posted a review of Bron's first novel, the eerie Bone Warriors, a few days ago. Now read about this talented, exceptional young author who is inspiring his peers to make their own dreams come true. You'll be as amazed as I was.
Bron, your age makes you one of the most remarkable authors I’ve interviewed. Tell us a little about yourself and how you made the decision to write a book.
Well I come from a family of six boys. My next oldest brother, Zack, and I entertained ourselves outside playing games and building things that were very advanced for our age. We even set up a quarry near our property in the mountains where we mined a shiny quartz out of walls and off cliffs. Being around five years old at the time, (he was eight) this was something unique to me and my brother.
So at an early age I developed an imagination and very good thinking skills. It was this outdoorsy lifestyle that gave me an edge over other kids my age and I quickly excelled in school. Because other kids seemed so childish to me for the most part, I turned to my own brain to entertain myself during recess rather than playing a lot with others. I don’t mind that I had few friends because the ones I do have are so great and share a higher level of thinking with me that is truly inspiring.
My decision to write came in third grade when I wrote a six or seven page beginning to a story and showed it to my friend, Chris. He was very excited to read it and said it was really good and I should write an ending. He was a real boost to me even though neither of us knew it at the time. He was as smart or smarter than me which made me confident in sharing a lot of things with him. (He even helped me and my brother mine in our quarry sometimes.)
Even though I had approval from him it wasn’t quite my time in third grade and writing became a hobby I had off to the side. After moving to a new city when I was in fourth grade, I was very unsure and insecure for a while because the only friends I could relate to on the same level weren’t there anymore. To make up for my new lack of friends, I started writing more and truly began trying to write full length books in fifth grade.
Middle school was a very hard time for me because of several misunderstandings between my educators and myself, so I started writing even more to try and regain some of my sanity. I was younger at the time and still not fully equipped with a working knowledge of life so I wrote to try and show all my teachers that I didn’t need them and that I could have a job I wanted without them taking my time to try and teach me what I knew.
After my book was finished I realized that I had actually had fun writing it so I dropped the revenge idea and started writing for fun.
Your mother is Shirley Bahlmann, also a very accomplished author. How has is it to have two authors in the house?
Well, honestly, I prefer to think that I am the source of my writing talent. I don’t like to think I got it from anyone; it’s just who I am and who I want to be. People don’t have to have authors in the family to write well. But having an author as my mom has helped me a lot socially because she took me to conferences at a young age and I gained friendships with other authors. But again I don’t want kids out there to be afraid to try writing because they don’t have author contacts, they should write if they want to and not worry about others.
That's great advice, Bron. So what do your friends think about having an author for a friend?
Well, the few friends I have think it’s really neat that I have my book published and I really appreciate their support in this career. They have all helped me not only with surviving school, but proofreading my books for me.
How has being published affected your school experience? Has this placed any added pressure on you as a student?
Ah, school. Well, my school life hasn’t changed yet, I just got my book published at the very end of last school year so I’ll have to see what it’s like this year and hope my principle will let me miss a few days to go do talks at other schools.
Tell us about Bone Warriors. I understand the idea was inspired by a dream. Can you tell us about that dream?
That dream was one I had forever ago. I had it in third grade so I don’t remember details, but the whole concept of it is in my book and makes up the skeleton of the first half. The ending half I thought of later, around fifth grade.
My fifth-grade writing involved letters to Donny Osmond, so I'm amazed. Which, if any of your characters, most reflects your own personality?
I didn’t write any of my characters after myself on purpose, but I’d have to say I’m more of a Derrik. I am big for my age and not the most popular or best looking person. I don’t like getting mad, but when I do get mad, I can make some really stupid decisions. But unlike Derrik, I think more like Tweaks, trying new things and creating things all the time.
Those are great observations. What is it about fantasy that inspires you?
The ability to create new things and reveal them to other people in a world where you are the Lewis and the Clark in a strange world that you created and one that you know all about. But also it’s great to hear that people like your book and enjoy the things you made, the things that you think and believe in so much. Knowing that they gained from what you love to do is what inspires me the most.
Are any of the characters in Bone Warriors particular favorites? Why?
Well, I like them all so much, but I’d have to say that Rigor and Mortis are definitely two of my favorites because of their eccentric personalities and outspoken minds. I kind of wish I could be like them.
I chuckled at them. Very clever. . . So, if you could travel through time, in which era would you like to spend some time and who would you enjoy meeting?
Wow, if I could travel through time I would go EVERYWHERE! Well, I would go every time I should say. But mostly I think I would want to see the future. Not what happens to me or anyone I know but so I could learn more and broaden my mind a little more.
Tell me about your writing habits. How many hours a day do you write and do you set a daily goal?
I write however much I feel like writing that day but I have an average of one and a half to two thousand words a day.
What accolade or event would mean true success to you?
That’s a good question I haven’t had before. I think that being an influence in others lives to the point that they share my ideas and can understand the way I really think would be great. Having others who learn from me and succeed because of my influence or ideas would be amazing. And having those who learn from me raise above me and overcome me completely would be completely awe-inspiring.
Those are noble goals, Bron. I bet that attitude powers your philosophy of writing, which is. . .
Do it for fun not for money. It’s great if you can make a living at writing but don’t try to make a living off it. Do it because you love it.
What do you do for relaxation?
Play puzzle games and listen to… weird but inspiring music.
Name a few of your favorite books and or movies, and why they touched you.
“Jumanji” starring Robin Williams is always going to be one of my favorite movies because of the unique and exciting idea of a world that can be brought to life by the roll of dice, and because I have always been a huge fan of Robin Williams and his movies. I also enjoy Tom Hanks’ movies because of his unique ability to capture human emotion, “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You've Got Mail,” “Castaway,” and “Joe and the Volcano” are several examples.
As for books, I don’t know that I have any favorites.
What is your favorite quote or saying?
Wow, these are some great questions, I don’t know that I have one particular favorite but I know some that I really like.
"I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead." -Mark Twain.
"Don’t judge a book by its cover."-Unknown
"Speak softly and carry a big stick."-Unknown- possible West African proverb
"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."-Groucho Marx
"(Honk Honk, whistle.)"-Harpo Marx
(Chico) “Hey I got a cousin that lives in Texas!”
(Man) “No, not Texas! Dollars! Taxes!”
(Chico) “Ya, that’s where he lives! Dallas, Texas!"-Chico Marx
(Let me put it this way, Bron . . . if we ever sit down to watch TV together, I'm holding the remote . . . ) hahahaha. . . Can you share an anecdote from a book signing or speaking engagement?
I was on the author panel at a teen writing conference. Afterward, Mom saw me signing books and having my picture taken with some girls who went to the conference. Later she asked how many girls had their pictures taken with me. I started counting, then gave up and said, “More than I have fingers for!”
I think this is just the beginning of the fanfare, Bron. Did you hear I was carrying your book in an elevator on vacation and a mom told me her daughters were among those who had their photo taken with you at that conference? Small world, huh? I'll buy you some dark glasses and a fake moustache to keep you safe. So, despite needing a disguise to ward off fan-attacks, what advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Write and keep writing and don’t let others put you down because they are jealous of you or don’t understand you.
What new projects do you have in the works?
A sequel and two other books that are part of their own series.
What daring dream still remains unfulfilled?
Completely overcoming my shyness.
Don't change too much, Bron. You're pretty amazing just as you are!
Readers can watch a You Tube video about Bron at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i7mihGy4fI, or follow Bron's career on his web site at http://www.bronbahlmann.com/, on his blog, http://bonewarriors.blogspot.com/.