My latest book is called Skullduggery: 45 True Tales of Disturbing the Dead. Skullduggery examines 45 real life tales of those who would disturb the dead’s eternal slumber. Discover the post-mortem histories of Elvis, Groucho Marx, Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Paine, Alexander the Great, Eva Peron, Graham Parsons, Che Guevara, Albert Einstein, and others who were not allowed to rest in peace. The motivations for these ghoulish crimes range from greed and avarice to pure affection.
Tell us something about yourself.
In September of last year, I left my an 11 year corporate career to write and open Grave Distractions Publications. I realized that I was 37 years old and didn’t want to spend my days miserable working at a job that did not inspire me. I’ve been writing blogs and various articles for the last 4 years and filly figured out that I was happiest when I was writing. So with the support of my lovely wife Laura, I took the plunge and haven’t looked back since. I am also a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason from Nashville, TN and have a 9 year old son named Robert.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had the opportunity to interview Charlie Chaplin’s daughter-in-law about her book “City of Secrets” about a year and a half ago. In doing some background research for the interview, I found the story about Charlie Chaplin’s body being stolen and held for ransom. The thought of grave robberies happening in the late 1970’s intrigued me. How often can this sort of thing happen in this day and time. I was quite surprised to find out that not only does the practice of body snatching still occur, but does so for a broad range of motives. the more I researched the topic, the more hidden history I uncovered about these people’s lives. I felt it was important to tell these post mortem tales to convey that a person’s life story does not always end with death.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I decided to self publish after attending a seminar at last year’s Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. After listening to a few publishers talk about how the publishing industry was rapidly changing and authors had to work at their own self promotion, I ask a simple question to a rep from a major publishing house here in Nashville. “With on demand printing available, what can a publishing house do for me that I can’t do myself?” His answer was a flat, “Nothing.” With that resounding endorsement, I decided to to self-publish and open Grave Distraction to help other authors out who found themselves in the same situation I was in.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve always believed that one of the purposes of life is to be able to tell the best stories when sitting at a pub or dinner table. Writing was a natural extension of that philosophy. I dipped my toe in the writing waters with a blog called Grail Seekers that examines esoteric topics about Freemasonry, the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. When I started getting interviews and publicists sending me books to review, I realized that I actually could write and people would read my work.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
The most difficult thing for me is simply being organized about my writing. Sometimes I write like I’m a crow, going from one bright shiny object to another. One idea will play itself out and I’ll skip to the next good idea. It’s hell on editing and piecing all the parts of the puzzle together.
How do you do research for your books?
I do my basic research from a mixture of old school library work and on line surfing for reputable sources. After that, if there’s a living source to interview I try to make contact with them. It’s funny what doors a simple e-mail or phone call can open for you. In working on one project, I found that I needed to talk to John Steinbeck’s son Thom. After some detective work and dropping him an email, I was able to get a phone interview with him. There’s nothing quite like talking to someone for their insights and memories of the events you’re looking into. There’s tons of little information that major publications and news articles can leave out of a situation.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
That I can get creeped out writing anything. I thought I was a fairly stout of soul individual, but in writing some of the chapters in Skullduggery, the research defiantly disturbed me. The story of Count Von Costel in particular gave me the willies.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
For the last few years I’ve found myself sticking to non-fiction works that relate to whatever project I’m working on. When I do take a breather and read fiction, I lean towards science fiction and fantasy. Some of my favorite authors are Michael Moorcock, Frank Herbert, and Robert Heinlein. There’s something about the epic nature and struggle against the corruption that appeals to me.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
At the moment I’m working on a fictional piece that deals with the Ark of the Covenant. Ethiopian tradition holds that the illegitimate son of Solomon and Sheba stole the Ark from Israel and it now resides in the Ethiopian city of Axum. The book is a parallel story line about the original theft and what would happen today if Islamic extremists stole the Ark from Axum and used it for religious blackmail to achieve a Palestinian homeland.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
In the digital age there is no reason you cannot publish. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Get your pen to paper and finish your short story, book, poem or whatever you like to write. There are so many avenues out there to have your material read, just follow your story and make it happen.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
If I can find an on line or in person event that gets two people together, I’m there. I’ve done a number of radio and podcast interviews about the book. I’ve found that Blog Talk Radio is a great way to get the message about your book out there. Other than that, social networking has been a key part of letting people know what I’m working on and making personal connections with readers.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
My Facebook fan page link is at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Brian-Kannard/180742320490