When I jumped on board Twitter last August, I also started up this blog. Beginning a blog on writing naturally piqued my interest in other writer/bloggers and I started reading a good share of them. I have to say none impressed me in the same way as did Writing Tips from a 12 Year Old Author (now, after his 13th birthday, smartly titled: Writing Tips from Spencer Brokaw). From the first post I read, I was hooked. The young man can write, but more than that, he dispenses cogent, useable advice to fellow writers.
In speaking about and introducing Spencer, I am torn as to how much I should focus on his age. On one hand, it is something that should make the young man proud—being so accomplished, well-read, and light years ahead of 47 year-old writers who just began their blogging careers. AHEM. On the other hand, his work belies any novelty his age might suggest. In the end, I am glad he changed the name of his blog. The relevance of Spencer Brokaw’s advice is no more tied to his age than is mine. Granted, he may not be able to write about decades of hard knocks in the industry, but then again, for “experienced” writers it can be harder and harder to write about the profession and marketplace sans jadedness; or to summon that natural bright-eyed optimism with which each of us once overflowed.
I asked Spencer to offer up a bio and then write about the books that have influenced him. Please to enjoy, dear readers, the estimable Spencer Brokaw:
When I was 6, I became a writer. In the middle of summer, I would write small stories—one or two sentences long—and have them go with an illustration. Those days evolved, and when I was 8, I wrote my first story on notebook paper. In the middle of the summer, I was bored and asked my dad what I could do. He suggested writing as a cure for boredom. So I began. I had the idea to write a book about a man that broke out of prison to redeem himself. The book was influenced by the Clint Eastwood Alcatraz movie, and it ran for 21 pages. I then went to a treasure hunting story that never finished, and to a book about a skater that becomes as big as Tony Hawk through a contest.
I don’t remember when I started it, but I wrote my first book, Agent J, on the computer shortly after this. It ran for 12 pages, and was in 12 sized font. After this I wrote what became the published book, The Impenetrable Spy on my computer. I had lost the first 6 pages of the book in a power outage—the computer turned off and didn’t save my progress—and I rewrote the 6 pages. The book originally consisted of a Porsche driving Zack Carter, with an accompanying girlfriend spy that was every bit as good as him.
I rewrote the entire restaurant scene in the beginning of the book too, which was completely different than it is now. I thank the weather for that power outage, because my book would never have been the same. I stopped writing and was sidetracked with video games, such as Splinter Cell and SEALS, two espionage games that would later inspire a lot of locations and action moves for The Impenetrable Spy main character, Zack Carter. When I came back to my writing, it had improved by a lot. The book seemed as if it had been written by two different people. I loved the way it turned out, and had edited it multiple times. I eventually printed it out and brought it to school last year, where many kids read it and encouraged me to write. I published it last summer using CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, and PubIt, all of which put my book on different platforms. Many books, movies, music, and video games inspired my writing.
Harry Potter was the big thing for me. It’s a great series that I couldn’t put down and always entertained me. I picked up different writing techniques from these books, but obviously didn’t go for fantasy. Percy Jackson, Daniel X, and Young James Bond also inspired my writing. Young Bond was great, because it was written for my age group (maybe a little above, I have a high reading level) and it featured James himself, and included the dark espionage tone that I was going for.
Music was very influential. My favorite artists are among Van Halen, AC/DC, RUSH, Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Yes, and Ozzy Osbourne. Most of these artists have a dark tone to them, and powered me to write my book. Music has always been here, and gave me plenty of ideas. If I would have listened to mainstream music, I don’t think I would have gone in the same direction. I might be a different person. I was introduced to classic bands early in my life, and have grown up to hate new music. Lyrics to songs give me ideas left and right, and sometimes just the beat and tone of the song will give me an idea.
As I said, video games gave me plenty of ideas. I played the stealth shoot-em’-ups, and that helped me picture the scenes I was writing. The visual of a video game helped me experience things I wouldn’t have ever experienced otherwise. The same goes for movies. The most influential movie for me would be The Bourne Identity. The espionage title gave me plenty of ideas, and set the mood to my newest Impenetrable Spy installation, in which Zack Carter is accused of a murder he didn’t commit.
Thanks for having me Rob! I really enjoyed writing this, and love your blog! Keep up the fantastic work.