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:




Author 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.


41 Responses to Guest Post: 13 Year-Old Author Spencer Brokaw

  1. Great to learn about your work, Spencer, and your taste in music is impeccable, I might add. 🙂

    Thanks for the post, Rob.

  2. Jo VonBargen says:

    Very interesting blog, indeed, Spencer! Intriguing to read your influences and how your writing has evolved.

    I agree with Laura…your music choices are outstanding! I often write to Pink Floyd; that ethereal, sometimes dark sound takes my mind some incredible places. The Japanese call it “abate” (ah-bah-tay)…ghost music.

    You have a wonderfully lively mind. I expect to see you hogging the best-seller lists sooner rather than later. Good for you!

    Thanks, Rob, you always feature the most interesting people here!

  3. Lori says:

    It’s great that you write Spencer and can see how it’s evolving. Many writers began at a young age like you then gave up. Keep at it and it will bring new universes to you. I loved the Harry Potter books and Eragon. Have you read any of David Baldacci books? Spies are always fun to write. I’ve dabbled a bit myself, though my protag is not a spy, she is a govt paid assassin. Thanks Rob for bringing my attention to such a talented young man.

  4. Jack Durish says:

    Very impressive for someone so young. Too bad he began studying style from J.K. Rowling. Hopefully, in time, he’ll get over that.

    • I’ve been over that. I finished those years ago, and have taken up The Mysterious Benedict Society, adult murder mysteries and the new set of James Bond books that I am getting to.

  5. Caleb Pirtle says:

    Thank God for Spencer. The craft will continue in capable hands like his long after we no longer bother with the written word.

  6. Susan Baker says:

    Nice piece about yourself reassuring others we are never too young or too old to do what we might have done. Thanks and to Rob too.

  7. Very inspiring, Spencer. It’s nice to meet not only a young man, but a person in general who has his feet planted firmly on the ground and knows what he wants. Remember, though, that knowing what you want and being good at it doesn’t mean you can forgo education. It’s the most important thing! It’ll make you an even better writer. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. And I agree with Laura, your choice in music is superb.

    • I am currently in three advanced classes and agree. I take education seriously, and realize how much of an impact it will take on the rest of my entire life. I have already found a college that I would like to go to, hopefully with a scholarship. I also plan on getting my associates degree in my last two years of high school. Thanks!

  8. Spencer, it’s not every day you see a person as young as you with such a passion for writing. I just grabbed a copy of The Impenetrable Spy and look forward to reading it. Welcome to the writing community! Pursue your dreams…and never look back!

  9. I love your taste in music and books. It seems you’re on the right way to live your dreams. Some of us have discovered much later that following your dream is the best way to live there is. Good luck with your stories.

  10. Oliver Dahl says:

    Hello, it is great to know that I am not alone in the young writer world! I myself am 14 years old, and published my first book, The Dreamers, last August when I was 13. That same October, I was able to participate in the Idaho Book Extravaganza, where I was honored as one of my state’s “Top 50 Authors”. I saw that you liked to talk lengths about your books, (hey, I do too!) and so I hope you don’t mind if I continue to rant on.

    • I just checked out your book on Amazon, it sounds very cool, I liked the blurb about it. Do you have a Twitter or Blog? I’d love to follow your posts/updates. Young authors have to stick together.

  11. Adriana Ryan says:

    Spencer, congratulations on publishing your first book!!! Amazing feat for an amazingly talented young man. 🙂 I loved reading about your journey into writing. You seem very self-confident–please don’t ever lose that. I’m off to get a copy of the Impenetrable Spy! Do you have more books coming down the pike soon?

    • Several. I am in the last phases of editing the sequel, The Impenetrable Spy: Future Dreamer. I am also starting a spin-off series, Agent J, with a character from the Impenetrable Spy, named Jack. I also have a Word document on my computer with several ideas for other series and sequels. Keep a lookout! Thanks for the comment too!

  12. Nailah says:

    Spencer, congrats on your success!

    Congrats also to your parents whose encouragement – write a story to beat boredom (!) – and influence on your musical preferences – Duran Duran (!?) – are noteworthy.

    Keep up the great work!

    PS: You too Rob!

  13. Norma Budden says:

    It’s encouraging when dreams are born and children take the time to follow them. I hope Spencer continues to find inspiration around him and writes the stories he enjoys so much.

  14. Thanks for commenting! And don’t worry, I don’t plan on stopping soon.

  15. If you hadn’t said anything about his age I would’ve never guessed… I wrote stories at eleven and twelve but I guarantee they weren’t as advanced as Spencer.

    Here’s hoping for a long and fruitful career!

    Armand Rosamilia

  16. Jon says:

    I bought Spencers book, showed my kids and said look… now that is a kid that is take life by the horns! watch and learn. I love to see young kids take to writing. Todays generation is so consumed by technology, games and such that to see someone take time out and write a book is marvelous. I would see what his books are like 10 even 5 years from now. Stand aside James patterson, this kid has serious chops!

  17. Jennie says:

    Hi Spencer,
    Wonderful to hear a young person being successful. If not for the internet you might have had to wait many years, thank God for technology, eh? I hope The Impenetrable Spy will come out on audio.

    • I’ve thought about it, but don’t have the money to pay anyone, and don’t want to do it myself—as of now. That could change though. Thanks for commenting!

  18. Kim Stapf says:

    I’m so impressed with this young man. I’ve read interviews he has done also. Great success in his future. Just wows me every time.

  19. Spencer! Congratulations! Keeping moving forward. Remember, the older you get, the more you have to write about. But you are off to a fantastic start. Your folks must be proud. God bless.

  20. Joyce Robinson says:

    I am currently representing another young author who will be appearing in the next few months. I understand that he attends the same school as Spencer. It seems he has some competition

  21. Dante Estrada says:

    Yes i have heard of him, Joyce. He is friends with a another young author by the name of Charles Burns who also attends the same school.

  22. Joyce Robinson says:

    Dear Spencer,
    My client and I would like to set up a meeting with you. Here is my email below


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