Back in October, Uncommon Law was featured at The Screening Room ATL, where Uncommon Law actress Jules Nobles and I were interviewed by Khalimah Gaston about the project.
Aside from my plans to start blogging again, the upcoming Pitch Wars makes this a good time to reintroduce myself! Pitch Wars is an online contest hosted by Brenda Drake where published authors/editors each choose a writer to mentor in order to help them polish & prep their novel for querying agents. Now that I’ve got Into The Black in a good place, I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring! This post is part of the #PimpMyBio blog hop, an unofficial way for contestants to get to know each other.
Hello all! My name is Brian Work, and this is my first Pitch Wars. I finally have a finished manuscript that’s gone through a few drafts, and I’m looking forward to taking part, getting feedback, and meeting some cool people!
About My Book
Into The Black (YA Fantasy)
Sydney grew up idolizing his mother, a former bandit turned sheriff. Unfortunately, he didn’t inherit her fighting skills, and his magic is only useful as a nightlight. After bombing his evaluation for the Petrichor Martial Academy, Sydney lands a coveted spot because an old family friend needs a student on the inside he can trust. He tasks Sydney with a secret mission to unravel a conspiracy to eradicate non-humans. Sydney may be ill-equipped for the job, but he’s not going to pass up the chance to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
At Petrichor, Sydney befriends Lanei, an aspiring knight running from a life she never wanted. Lanei has spent her life watching knights turn their backs on anyone who isn’t human. She’s also witnessed firsthand just how dangerous magic and unchecked power can be. While Sydney struggles to survive his classes, Lanei conducts her own investigation into the anti-magic cult. But the deeper Lanei gets, the more her past becomes a liability.
When a fellow student is murdered, all signs point to Lanei. Now she and Sydney must work together to prove her innocence before someone else is killed.
Into The Black deals with equality, and the notion that nobody should be discriminated against because of how they look or how they were born. It’s about standing up for what’s right, even when you know it’s going to end badly for you. And it’s about family, specifically the family you choose that may not be related by blood.
I’ve made an effort to assemble a diverse cast of characters, in large part to reflect the diversity that I see in my classrooms. From speaking to my students, I know how much representation matters to teenagers, and I want to create characters they can see themselves as.
Into The Black started as a webcomic back when I was fresh out of high school. My artist (Marissa Trudel) and I only posted 10 pages before life got in the way and it fell apart. Over a decade later, the characters of Sydney and Lanei called out to me again. I scrapped everything except the most basic ideas about who they were and started from scratch, creating a new world for them to inhabit. I’m incredibly fortunate to still have Marissa as one of my biggest supporters and most enthusiastic beta readers, supplying me with incredible concept artwork (as seen above.)
Music is a huge part of my inspiration. My playlist for Into The Black has over 400 songs on it, but here are the top 10 tracks that get me in the mood for this story:
– Art of Dying – “Best I Can”
– Butch Walker – “Into The Black” (the inspiration for the title and one of the main themes)
– Butch Walker – “Take Tomorrow (One Day at a Time)”
– Fozzy – “Unstoppable”
– Halestorm – “I Am The Fire”
– Imagine Dragons – “Warriors”
– Jack’s Mannequin – “The Resolution”
– Lindsey Stirling feat. Lzzy Hale – “Shatter Me”
– Sixx:A.M. – “Life Is Beautiful”
– We Are The In Crowd – “Long Live The Kids”
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember (starting with stories about Snoopy or Mario on my mom’s old typewriter.) After discovering Suikoden and Final Fantasy VII in eighth grade, I made a video game website dedicated to them. Over the next five years, IcyBrian’s RPG Page grew to be the largest website on the internet for RPG fanfiction and fan art. It’s long since been abandoned, and now remains as a testament to my poor naming decisions.
My background is in theatre and film. I’ve been performing for 15 years at theatres in Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, & North Carolina. I spent three years in Chicago doing improv and sketch comedy. I’m back in Atlanta now, but absolutely loved my time in Chicago. Despite the freezing winters, I find myself in a constant state of wanting to move back.
I’ve always had a soft spot for romantic comedies. A play I wrote, Once Upon a RomCom: The Bill Pullman Story, was produced at a theatre in Chicago. In it, Bill Pullman falls into a deep depression after playing the “other guy” in numerous 90s romcoms, believing he’ll never find true love. It takes the help of his fairy godfather, Jeff Goldblum, to pull him out of his funk. The coolest part of the experience was when Bill Pullman mentioned the play on NPR and even sent us flowers!
For years my dream was to make a feature film, but I kept talking myself out of it. I finally decided that if I didn’t do it now, I never would, so I threw caution to the wind and wrote, directed, and produced Uncommon Law, a romantic comedy about two best friends and longtime roommates who, after years of bailing each other out of bad dates by pretending to be married, get a notice from the government that they are now common law married. It took me four grueling years to complete, but it’s finally out there for people to see on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Amazon Prime.
Since moving back to Atlanta, my creative efforts have shifted to writing fiction and teaching high school theatre. I love working with students who are passionate about theatre, helping them believe in themselves and accomplish feats they didn’t realize they were capable of. Out of everything I’ve done, teaching is without a doubt the most rewarding. The students I’ve worked with are truly remarkable and continue to inspire me. I push myself to succeed every day so I can show them that, with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this! I look forward to connecting with you all throughout Pitch Wars. I love talking to people, so don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Cheers!
For a while now, I’ve been looking for an excuse to start posting more writing on here. I saw the Flash Fiction Challenge over on Chuck Wendig’s blog the other day and decided to give it a shot. This week’s challenge was to take one of ten random titles and write a story around that. I went with “A Year of Bodies.”
This is my first attempt at flash fiction, but I had fun writing it, so it may become a regular thing! Also, fair warning, it’s a little on the fucked up side. I hope you enjoy!
“A Year of Bodies”
By Brian Work
“A little to the left. Just raise the—Like that, but… Yes, perfect!”
Roland stepped back and admired his handiwork. It was nice, but something was… lacking. The servants kept looking from Roland to his latest piece. They didn’t understand his genius, but that wasn’t what he paid them for.
Nobody appreciated good art these days. It was Roland’s least favorite part of the twenty-first century. Everyone was so damned politically correct nowadays. No calling women broads. No making fun of fat people. No peeling the skin off trespassers and carefully wrapping it around a mannequin.
Oh well. His house, his rules.
The servants—Jose and… Esta-something-or-other—had lasted much longer than the last pair. They were quiet. Roland liked that about them. The last two hadn’t been quiet, and he’d had to add them to the collection. If there was one thing an artist hated, it was being rushed in his work. A masterpiece takes time. Not that Roland considered any of his current works masterpieces. If anything, these were derivative of his Victorian collection. He wanted to blame it on his materials, that today’s subjects just weren’t as attractive as they were back in the day. But Roland knew that was just an excuse. He was the problem.
He slipped each of the men an envelope and let them go. They wouldn’t say anything, Roland was sure of it. They were quiet. Roland liked quiet.
As he walked the length of his gallery, Roland knew he was due for an expansion soon. It had been a busy year. He hadn’t dabbled with statues for decades, not since the pathetic excuse for art that was his Woodstock collection. But the girl at the opera had been so lovely… and so insistent.
He’d tried to be satisfied with the sex, he really had. But after living as long as he had, a woman needed to be truly spectacular to leave an impression. He would have left it at that, but she so badly wanted breakfast the next morning, and well… he was hungry.
Roland ran his fingers through her hair. Such lovely black hair… He smiled. This is what she would have wanted. She died as she lived: Enjoying the finer things in life.
And she would never have to suffer the injustice of losing her beauty. She could remain young forever. It was the best gift he could have given her.
Well, second best, but this century wasn’t well-suited to siring. The logistics were such a nightmare. Easier to just kill them and be done with it.
So he had. But then the next week there was the girl at the theatre. Then the woman at the bar. Then the bartender. Then the detective…
Art was addictive. As soon as you thought you were done, it pulled you back in.
She was a fine piece of work, though. She’d preserved nicely. That was a stroke of good luck. Even if you used the best techniques and materials, you couldn’t always account for genetics. Some bodies just preserved better than others. It had been a hard lesson to learn when he was younger, but it was a valuable one. Sometimes, the blame just didn’t lie with you, and you had to accept that some people just made terrible subjects.
But this girl… Roland almost regretted not turning her. She had the looks, the attitude, the hunger… Unfortunately for her, he just wasn’t in the mood for a commitment.
Roland paced down the gallery, each step a little heavier than the last. He let out a long sigh. That girl really was his finest piece here… It was almost depressing. Usually his collections gradually progressed in quality, but that wasn’t the case here. Twenty-seven works of art, and none could match her in beauty, form, or pure fun of the kill.
He stopped. His head snapped back to look at her.
That was it! He wasn’t losing his touch as an artist. He was losing his touch as a killer! All the others had been kills of necessity or some sort of… obligation to create. A true artist couldn’t force art to happen on just any canvas that walked by. He had to be discerning. Seek out the best canvas possible. Only then could real art happen!
Roland laughed. He rushed back to his muse, his Calliope, and kissed her cold lips. This beautiful, wonderful girl. He’d been so blind, and now she’d opened his eyes.
He brushed his thumb over her cheek. The rest of them could burn. She was the only piece worth saving. He would take his lessons from her and use them for next year’s collection.
Next year, he would reintroduce himself to the world.
One of the benefits of having a beta reader who’s also an awesome artist is you get sweet fan art like this from Marissa Trudel, featuring Lilah Martinez (aka Chimera) from the first book in my upcoming Knights of Fate series. Even superheroes-in-training have their role models.
I’ve found that, especially in the last several years, I’ve been more drawn to writing female-driven stories. My female characters tend to be the ones I enjoy writing the most and whose voices seem to come most naturally. I think a big part of that is because I was raised by, grew up around, and befriended lots of badass women over the course of my life.
So this is a thank you to all of the badass women who have helped shape me and inspire me. I wouldn’t be the badass I am without the badasses all of you are. Much love!
UPDATE: The movie was amazing! It was everything I wanted it to be and more. No Man’s Land had me all sorts of emotional.
Big news! My first feature film, Uncommon Law, is now available on Amazon Prime! You can stream it for free with your Amazon Prime account, or purchase/rent a digital copy. Now’s a great time to go check it out, and if you enjoy it, please share with your friends and leave a review on Amazon or IMDB. Thanks, and much love to you all!
For the last decade or so, I’ve been doing all my writing on a computer. Before then, I wrote everything by hand and then transcribed it, but as I discovered writing programs like Final Draft, Celtx, & Scrivener, I started doing all my writing on the computer. And that worked fine for a while.
Lately, however, I’ve been finding myself way too easily distracted when at the computer. I fall into the black hole of Facebook & Twitter, & the next thing I know it’s an hour later & I haven’t written anything. Such is the result of having the willpower of a blueberry scone.
When I was creating the outline for Into The Black, I did the whole thing by hand. It was freeing and helped me to just get words down on the page without feeling like they were set in stone. I wrote the first draft in Scrivener, but I definitely spent more time procrastinating & being distracted than actually writing. And a big part of that has to do with the damn computer itself and the stupid internet.
As I looked at the middling progress I’ve made on my found footage horror novel over the last month, I knew I wanted to try something new with it. So rather than writing on the computer, I’m disconnecting and doing the writing by hand. Less distractions means less excuses I can make for myself.
I have stories to tell, and nobody’s going to give a damn about them if they never get written. And that’s on me. That’s something I can control.
I mean, shit, I wrote, directed, & produced a feature film. I can look at the Uncommon Law blu-ray shelved right next to Underworld in my movie collection & see proof that I can make things happen. I’ve got a completed draft of Into The Black as a constant reminder that I can get things done if I stick to them.
So no more excuses. No more avoiding writing due to a fear of failure. Time to kick fear’s ass and send it packing. I don’t have time for that shit. I’ve got work to do.
When I was in college at Valdosta State, I wrote a one act play called “Reason” about my friend Jenny who passed away suddenly a few years earlier. The next year, it was produced at VSU as part of the Immediate Theatre Project. The whole process, between writing the play & seeing it produced, was cathartic for me & helped me come to terms with her death.
I’ve been wanting to revisit it since then, as I feel I can do it greater service & tell that story better, but I wasn’t sure how to build on it. Recently, while working on my found footage novel, I finally realized how I can tell this story in a way that will better allow me to explore the emotions that have been tugging at me since she passed.
I may already have a lot on my plate, but I’m going to see if I can fast track this project for this year. I’ve worked with great teen actors at three high schools in the area, so I know the talent is there. Now’s probably a good time to do this, seeing as I don’t know for sure that I’ll still be in Atlanta a year from now. More importantly, this is a story I need to tell, and it’s something I just feel I have to do.
Despite the eternal struggle that was 2016, it was an extremely productive year for me professionally.
– After 5 years, my first feature film, Uncommon Law, is officially complete & available on digital, DVD, & Blu-Ray!
– Completed the first draft of my debut novel, “Into The Black.”
– Directed two plays: “Much Ado About Nothing” at Parkview High School and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” at Collins Hill High School.
– Taught high school drama for three months at Collins Hill.
– Shot the video portion of a found footage YA horror novel I’m working on.
All in all, a successful year! No time to slow down, because my goals for 2017 include:
– Editing “Into The Black” and querying agents.
– Writing & editing the found footage novel.
– Finishing the three screenplays I’ve got in various stages of completion.
– Resuming work on my urban fantasy novel.
– Making more regular blog posts on here.
Time to get at it!
Exciting news! Uncommon Law has been selected for the 2017 Atlanta Independent Film Festival! The movie will be screened on Saturday, February 4th at 8pm at Pinch ‘n’ Ouch Theatre in Atlanta! If you haven’t seen it yet, this is a prime opportunity! It is also available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital in the shop.
Visit www.atlindiefilmfest.com for tickets & full details.
The hits keep on coming! My first feature film, Uncommon Law, is now available for streaming and digital download from Vimeo On Demand! For the low, low price of only $9.99, you get the movie, the blooper reel, and the audio commentary. And if you prefer DVD or Blu-Ray, you can still preorder a copy in the shop!
This movie has been my baby for the last five years, and today marks the first day it’s officially available to be watched by people all over the world! To say this is a dream come true would be an understatement. I hope you’ll give it a watch and that you enjoy watching it half as much as I enjoyed making it!