I’m thrilled to have Kevin Brennan as my guest today. Many of you already know Kevin as the author of several novels, including his most recent, Eternity Began Tomorrow or EBT as it is affectionately known. EBT is kind of a road trip/political thriller/romance-type novel. In other words, it has something for every kind of reader.
EBT tackles the crisis of climate change, a very timely subject, as well as the current political scene. I asked Kevin how this novel came about and how it changed or didn’t change as he revised and prepared it for publication while history rolled on.
I’d had the idea of a John Truthing kind of character a long time ago and sat on it for years. Then I was looking for something to work on and this kind of story seemed right for the times. I started about a year ago now, mid-October ’18 and had the first draft done in March or so. One of my faster first drafts.
Then, as I revised, I kept plugging in things that were happening, like the Mueller report and the Dem campaigns and Greta Thunberg, and I kept doing that right up to the time I uploaded a final manuscript. I knew this wouldn’t work for traditional publishing, since I’d have to waste months querying, then, if I was lucky enough to get a contract, more than a year before it could be published. (Ha, as if!)
By the way, I went for the surprise ending because it felt like I needed something that was more absurd than reality. I was reading an old Kurt Vonnegut novel at the time and I just thought, go for a shocker. What would Kurt do? So the book’s definitely not meant to feel realistic but more like “beyond-realistic” because real life is too damn strange and scary right now!
Why “Eternity Began Tomorrow”? It’s kind of a mystifying phrase.
That’s one of those things that “just comes” to a writer, you know? The phrase popped into my head and I started thinking about it. In the context of climate change, I think it suggests a paradox: that it might be too late but that we can’t not act. We could be screwing up the planet forever if we don’t act. It might already be screwed up, but we still have a little time to do something about it. Tomorrow is a hopeful idea. At least as of today.
How did you decide to write from the POV of Molly “Blazes” Bolan?
My earliest notes for the book had cast an older, crusty-but-benign man as Blazes, but when I resurrected the story I thought I’d update things so I changed him to a her—specifically a thirty-something, San Francisco girl with ambitions—and the original print newspaper to an online news site: Sedan Chair. It felt more timely.
I’ve written from female points of view a lot in my work, starting with Nora from Parts Unknown and carrying through to Sarah in Occasional Soulmates (those in first-person), plus a number of third-person female narrators. Usually I do it either because the original idea comes to me through a female character, or because the way the story wants to be told feels like it won’t work as well with a male protagonist.
I don’t think writers should be forbidden to write from their opposite gender (or one of the many genders available these days) any more than should be forbidden to write about any “other.” In fact, I just read a great piece by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books, lamenting that there seems to be a trend lately toward absolute “correctness” about identity in fiction. To my mind, fiction offers an eye-opening approach to empathy, so telling a black woman, for instance, that she can only write about black women would shut the door to her exploring what the world is like for other identities. I’m with Zadie on this. Fiction is really about individuals, not types.
Any other novels you have in the works for your
I’ve been trying to get an agent for three different books these last couple of years, so I’m holding those back instead of publishing them in the indie market yet. One of them has a transgender man as protagonist—apropos of the answer to your other question. Another of the three is a baseball/prison book set in the Depression, and it’s a little like The Natural meets The Shawshank Redemption. And the third is about a uniquely screwed-up family trying to work out their shit, with the 1973 Watergate hearings as a backdrop. Dysfunction on two different levels.
I’m also writing something now that might not pan out because it’s a weird mashup of real life and fiction. My mom is in it, along with a bunch of her neighbors. And me. I think of it as a study in how fiction is anchored in real-world foundations even though it’s completely made up.
We’ll see what happens with that!
It’s exciting to know that we have more of your writing to look forward to. How do you work on your novels? That is, do you work on them sequentially, not starting a new one until the current is finished? Or you work on a couple at a time, using one to take breaks from the other?
Mostly I work on a book until it’s finished, just because I immerse myself in that world and don’t want to let some other world smear into it. Once in a while, I’ll start some notes on a new project while I’m still working on a novel, but for the most part I want to stick with something till I’m done. The three books I’m holding onto were all written sequentially at different times, but I set them aside when I started indie publishing because I held out hope that I’d be able to get an agent for them eventually.
Sometimes I run into an obstacle in a book that I can’t quite get around, so I’ll put it on pause and work on something else. And sometimes I never do go back to the paused one. Then, occasionally, like with EBT, I dig one up years later and find a way to finish it.
Well, Readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Kevin Brennan and take this opportunity to pick up an ebook copy of Eternity Began Tomorrow by clicking here.
To show our appreciation for reading to this point, here’s your treat!