Author Interview with Brian Kaufman, A Black Rose Writer
Welcome Readers to another addition of the Book's Delight author interview series. Today we are talking with the very talented Brian Kaufman who published his latest novel, Sins in Blue, with Black Rose Writing. Here are some details about his new book.
Sins in Blue by Brian Kaufman
Published: May 2020
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Available: ebook, paperback
JMR- Hi Brian, tell us who you are, what you do, where do you live? What do you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?
BK-I’m a full-time writer living in the mountains of Northern Colorado. During the day, I write textbooks. At night, I write novels. As it turns out, writing is what I do for fun, so both my days and nights are terrific. I work from home, so there’s a lot of time spent in my office, which looks out over a ravine. Every two or three hours, I go hiking with my dog, Gus. We manage 7-10 miles a day, all told. At least once a day, I pick up my Stratocaster and play. When my wife comes home in the evening, I cook (something I used to do professionally and now do for pleasure). The last hour of my day is spent reading. A wonderful life.
JMR- You have written multiple books on an eclectic range of subjects; from Zombies to the Civil War, and from a search for Jesus to major league baseball. Why is that? How do you settle on a particular story?
BK- Finishing a novel is a daunting task. I find I can finish a book if the subject matter is something that I obsess over. Being obsessive by nature, a lot of subjects have me on hooks. At first, my ordering of topics was haphazard. Then my parents passed away, and I realized that it was time to tackle my “bucket-list books” - three books I’d had in mind for many, many years. My Civil War novel was the last of the three.
JMR- Many authors build a following by writing similar stories which come to be expected by their readers. How has your approach helped or hurt your ability to create a solid fan base?
BK- My approach has done little or nothing to build expectations or a solid fan base. My stories are really quite different. If there’s any continuity, it’s a thematic arc, but when you go from zombies to baseball, that arc isn’t readily apparent. Career-wise, this has probably been a mistake. Unlike Solomon, I will never be known for my wisdom.
JMR- Do you have a favorite historical period? How about a favorite historical character?
BK- I admire Patrick O’Brian’s character, Jack Aubrey. O’Brian wrote 21 books that read, for the most part, like one huge, wonderful novel. As for a particular period in history, I do tend to gravitate toward the 1800s.
JMR- As an author who has researched and written about the Civil War era, what is your take on the current move to remove all Confederate statues and symbols?
BK- Like Hemmingway’s famous passage on figural language in A Farewell to Arms, I am unimpressed by attempts to define universal meaning. Meaning is personal, and those statues mean different things to different people. Attempting to fix meaning (and then erase and replace that meaning), is work for Caligula or Winston Smith.
JMR- Tell us about your newest book, Sins in Blue. Where did you get the idea for this? Are you a Blues fan?
BK- When I was a kid, I browsed a record store cutout bin and found an old Sonny Terry EP. The music hit me on an emotional level unlike anything I’d previously experienced. Fifty years later, the blues is still my very favorite music. The plot for Sins in Blue came from a discussion with my father about tariffs and the difficulties involved with identifying product origins, which he compared to the difficulty of tracing the genealogy of scientific innovations.
JMR- Is the story based on a real person, I googled Willie Johnson and found several real Blues players by that name. I chose the name Willie Johnson in service of an off-color joke I wanted to tell in the novel. When, years later, I discovered Blind Willie Johnson (who wrote Dark was the Night—Cold was the Ground), I decided that I liked the idea of a fictional character playing at the periphery of blues history with a name he has to share. A lot of guys named Sonny, Lightning, and Blind Boy could relate to that.
JMR- One of my favorite parts of writing an historical novel is doing the research. Do you enjoy the process? Learn anything new? What surprised you the most during your research for Sins in Blue?
BK- My first novel, The Breach (Last Knight Publishing, 2002) was about the Alamo (from the Mexican perspective). I spent three years researching, and I loved every minute, particularly my trips to San Antonio and the library there. But eventually, I had to start writing. The lesson I learned is that you can easily get lost in research if you’re not careful.
Sins in Blue takes place in two timelines—the Great Depression Era in Mississippi and Chicago, and 1969 Fort Collins, Colorado. The latter setting came directly from personal memory. I had pictures in my head that made for good scenes. I thought I’d save research time, since my memories had become “historical,” the way old cars become “classics.” What I discovered during the editing process is that memory is a foggy liar, and I spent a lot of time correcting my mistakes.
JMR- What’s next?
BK- I’m researching nineteenth century UFO reports. After that, I’m not sure. My “to-do” list of novels is daunting. I’ll never finish them all, not without bionic organs and an amphetamine drip.
JMR- how can readers find and follow you?
My author site/blog: https://authorbriankaufman.com/
My Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/bkaufman1852
My Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7067156.Brian_Kaufman
JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?
BK- This was a really terrific list of questions.
JMR- Well, thank you Brian for hang out with us today. I appreciate your time and wish you luck with your new book.