If you appreciate your fiction pulpy and unpredictable, Bryan Roberts’ Ed Savage: The Savage Murders Trilogy is going to be one of the most enjoyable books you’re likely to read this year. Taking cues from classic 70’s genre fare and applying it to the contemporary climates obsession with reality TV and celebrity, the book is a thrilling satirical treat that meshes genres and entertainment from different generations.
By no means a story that takes itself seriously, though it is does contain relevant themes presented in the form of a love letter to a myriad of horror, thriller and adventure, it’s it’s bound to go down a treat with genre fans. Recently, SCREAM had the opportunity to sit down with Roberts to discuss the novel and the upcoming sequel.
SCREAM: Can you tell us about your background and how you became a writer?
Bryan Roberts: I feel totally blessed to work in an operating room with some pretty spectacular people. I’m a radiologic technologist running a C-Arm, which is the fluoroscopic imaging for orthopedic and vascular cases, and I not only get to see some incredible surgeries, but also work side-by-side with brilliant surgeons that can do things I think are truly amazing.
My first ‘book’, if it could even be called one, was in the sixth grade. It was made with a construction paper cover and I can’t recall if I simply stapled it together or used brass fasteners. My blue Bic pen scribble monsters were terrible and I’d go to the school library and always get a kick out of seeing the younger students’ names that checked it out. I wish I still had that silly ‘book.’
Writing has always been with me and for fun I’d write scripts for the television shows I loved. Dynasty and Melrose Place were my favourites, and I remember writing a Colbyco spin-off based in Seattle well before the actual spin-off, The Colby’s, aired. It was cool that I was thinking along the same lines as the people in Hollywood and it felt like I had a knack for writing.
SCREAM: Who are some authors you consider inspirational?
BR: Stephen King is well…KING! I remember first reading The Stand in paperback, then when the full version came out at 1152 pages and I got the hardcover, I loved the story! I’ve now read it three times. His characters seemed to be people I’d want to know…the good one’s of course. Fran Goldsmith I always pictured as the prettiest girl in my class in high school. I love getting lost in his books. John Grisham is another author whose work I gravitate to. I like his direct and to-the-point style. I don’t know what the man sounds like when he speaks, but I hear that powerful ‘voice’ in my mind when I write.
By merging the two, I’ve written some interesting characters in a fast-paced story that doesn’t get bogged down with too much description. I mean. do you really need two pages to tell you how beautiful the “whatever they’re looking at” is? Readers get it and want the story to move. That’s a wonderful comment I get from people that read my book.
SCREAM: Ed Savage and the Savage Murders Trilogy is a pretty wild ride. How did you come up with the idea?
BR: 20 years ago I saw Kevin Williamson’s movie Scream and was in awe of how brilliant and refreshing his take on the genre was, and it wasn’t long after the dormant writing embers within me reignited. The screenplay was titled Blackridge Falls. I copyrighted it, submitted a copy to the Writer’s Guild West and immediately started the sequel. However, when the rejection letters started piling up, the wind left my sail and I shelved the scripts. Reading somewhere to get paid twice for your work and that more books are written than movies were made, I wanted to try my hand at writing a novel.
It was after a knee surgery in 2014, when I was at home recovering that I pulled out my old script and went to work. The original idea, however, changed with my age, and in my mind I was merging a night-time soap with a horror movie and adding the action of a ’70s disaster flick in to boot. Now with that in mind, what I didn’t want to write was a story where the same thing happened every time, and with Ed Savage leading the series. I’m not giving away my book; it’s Ed that can change every story coming forward…and in the next book he may just do exactly that.
Missing seeing the actors I grew up with and the fact Hollywood gears toward a younger crowd in this genre, I wanted to write a story encompassing both age demographics and bring to life a new set of heroes with Ed Savage and his brothers. My end game goal would be to follow along the lines of Pretty Little Liars or Witches of East End, which were based on books, to bring The Savage Saga: A Hollywood Horror Soap Opera to a series on television or the big screen. That being said, and after watching the last episodes of Bates Motel, I’d love to be part of that kind of ‘filming family.’ One day, with hope and a prayer, that day will come.
SCREAM: What’s your writing process like?
BR: I’ll tell you: the first book was such a learning curve and I was blessed to find the perfect editor in Amy Lignor. My problem was first never really being schooled in writing. The scripts I’d written in the past were only for fun and not understanding the POV in novel writing was something I had to learn fast. Script writing is instructional and directional whereas novel writing is descriptive, and that was my situation in my first book.
To give you an idea: Ed Savage and the Savage Murders Trilogy came in at just under 120,000 words and it took about 4 weeks to edit. My second in the series, which I’ll tell you about [later], came in at 150,000 words and took my editor a week and a half to edit. Her explanation of the process spoke to me during my first book and I picked it up and ran with it. Now for me, I had the plot while writing Volume 1, but I didn’t have the opening scene in my mind for Volume 2, and until I did, it sat. The title didn’t come because for me it comes from the story you’re writing. Many nights I’d be stuck and drag myself to my computer, open it, and not know what I was going to write; then, it just comes, and it always surprises me when that happens.
The actual process is where I open three Word files to begin. The first file is the title page where I’d write Ed Savage and the Book Two title and begin my story. The second file is the chapter layout file. Here, I’d write “Chapter 1” and list the main things that happen in it along with character names and so on, building a list to easily find things later on. The third file is the notes file. Here, as I write, ideas that pop into my head would get written down so I don’t forget them. It also serves as a good place to copy and paste things from earlier chapters that you are mentioning briefly later on. This makes popping between files so much easier than doing a ‘Search and Find’ every time. I will say using the three files is a much simpler and faster way than handwriting any of it. Of course there are still handwritten notes on operating room gown pull-cards in my briefcase, on my desk and filed away too.
SCREAM: How would you pitch it to the unacquainted reader?
BR: I usually hold up my hand in a stabbing motion and say: “Do you like (then I make the reeeek eeek eeek noise) type of scary books?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then I say: “Then you might like this one. It’s about rich people getting killed, Hollywood types with some fun disaster stuff thrown in for added fun.” It also has a high-body count, and the joke at work is when somebody pisses me off they die a hideous death in my next book. Surprisingly, more people want to be killed off and with that in mind it’s all fun. It’s fiction, which makes it fun. I like to be scared at the movies, not disturbed, and I nailed it with my series judging by the direct feedback and the kind reviews on Amazon.
SCREAM: What are you working on next?
BR: Yes. I’m thrilled to tell you the second book in the series is complete and now in editing. It picks up exactly where my first book ended. Understand these questions I’m answering here are well in advance of the magazine’s publication date and I just got my book back from Amy for the first edit.
The new title is: Ed Savage and the Decimated Savage Demise — The Savage Saga: A Hollywood Horror Soap Opera. I just finished my part in the edit and when I’m finished with [this interview] I’ll be reading my story now that all the edits have been addressed. This is a fun part because I know what to look for and will get it ready for publishing, which still involves more rounds of editing. If I’m lucky this will be out Halloween 2017 to coincide with this interview.
I’m also starting the book cover design. Like last time, I hired an illustrator and worked on the images to get exact pictures for the reader to be able to see as well as read my story. On my website, SavageRobertsPublishing.com you can see the images we created for the first book and there you will also find the song “Savage Night” that I wrote. I found a producer to write the music and the singer is awesome. For me it was a call to those ’70s disaster movies with the theme song that I loved growing up and wanted my book to have its own song. I will say, though: storytelling comes more naturally to me; song writing is so much harder.
SCREAM: Good luck with everything!
BR: Thank you very much.
Words: Kieran Fisher