Thriller 101

Building a Following for Your Writing with Bryan Young

December 05, 2022 David Season 2 Episode 29
Building a Following for Your Writing with Bryan Young
Thriller 101
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Thriller 101
Building a Following for Your Writing with Bryan Young
Dec 05, 2022 Season 2 Episode 29

Send me a Text Message!

5 Minute Writer
Connect with Bryan on Twitter

Last week on the interview series I talked to author, Katherine Ramsland. She shared how to turn the true stories we hear into fiction.

First Interview with Jessica Payne. (Be sure to subscribe for new Jessica Payne interview in the coming weeks!)


  1. Using nonfiction to build a community
  2. How to find writing opportunities
  3. Writing what you love

Bryan Young (he/they) works across many different media. His work as a writer and producer has been called "filmmaking gold" by The New York Times. He's also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics. He's been a regular contributor for the Huffington Post,, Star Wars Insider magazine, SYFY, /Film, and was the founder and editor in chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot! IN 2014, he wrote the critically acclaimed history book, A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination. He co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG has written two books in the BattleTech Universe: Honor's Gauntlet and A Question of Survival. He teaches writing for Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and at the University of Utah. Follow him on Twitter @swankmotron.

Tweet me @DavidRGwyn

Show Notes Transcript

Send me a Text Message!

5 Minute Writer
Connect with Bryan on Twitter

Last week on the interview series I talked to author, Katherine Ramsland. She shared how to turn the true stories we hear into fiction.

First Interview with Jessica Payne. (Be sure to subscribe for new Jessica Payne interview in the coming weeks!)


  1. Using nonfiction to build a community
  2. How to find writing opportunities
  3. Writing what you love

Bryan Young (he/they) works across many different media. His work as a writer and producer has been called "filmmaking gold" by The New York Times. He's also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics. He's been a regular contributor for the Huffington Post,, Star Wars Insider magazine, SYFY, /Film, and was the founder and editor in chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot! IN 2014, he wrote the critically acclaimed history book, A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination. He co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG has written two books in the BattleTech Universe: Honor's Gauntlet and A Question of Survival. He teaches writing for Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and at the University of Utah. Follow him on Twitter @swankmotron.

Tweet me @DavidRGwyn


Bryan Young: [00:00:00] No matter how original or different you think you are, that whatever niche you find yourself writing in or working in, somebody's gonna respond to that. And I think, that's that's why you have artists that can be these like cold hits because you don't actually need all that many people to care about what you're doing in order to make a living. 

David Gwyn: Do you want to be a full-time writer? Do you want to find more readers for your fiction? The number one thing, any career writer wants is to have readers pining for your work. But how do you do it? I'm David Gwyn, a writer with a finished manuscript, trying to navigate the world of traditional publishing. 

During this season of the podcast, I'm asking agents, book, coaches, editors, and authors, how they suggest writers go from the end on a first draft to signing a publishing deal. Last time on the podcast. I talked to Katherine Ramsland in an interview about how to use true stories in our fiction. 

Katherine Ramsland: Well, it's about entertainment and so yes. Reality isn't always entertaining and there is a way to, to use it. Like you put it, [00:01:00] it's almost like you put a skin over it, right? You want the base of it, you want, you want the body of it to. To feel real, to feel authentic, but at the same time, you know, you gotta dress it up.

David Gwyn: I've linked that interview in the description. If you're interested. 

Bryan Young works across many different media. His work as a writer and producer has been called filmmaking gold by the New York times. He's also published comic books is a regular contributor for the Huffington post star star wars, insider magazine. SyFy. 

And was the founder and editor in chief of the geek news and review site, big shiny robot he's written books in a variety of genres and teaches writing for writer's digest script magazine, and at the university of Utah. In the first part of the interview, Bryan talks about his writing background, how he got into the writing world and what he does to stay there. It was so interesting to hear the way he thinks. 

Thinks about his writing career. So let's check it out. 

Brian, we have a lot to talk about you have a really [00:02:00] impressive writing resume, so thanks so much for being here. 

Bryan Young: Oh, thank you for having me. It's my pleasure, . 

David Gwyn: So I was first introduced to you through Chantelle Aimée Osman, who has been on, on my podcast twice. She just has an amazing wealth of writing knowledge and she, she suggested that you and I chat, and I'm really glad that she did because you have a really interesting writing career, which is unlike the people I normally have on the podcast, which I want to get to.

But first I wanna start with just getting a little bit background. When did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a. I 


Bryan Young: I did right, Like I think the bug bit me first at elementary school, to be honest, I won some awards that I still have sitting on my shelf from elementary school, from creative writing.

And I knew I wanted to write and that took me into film for a while. So I was doing, I was trying to do narrative film. And that took me into documentary and then kind of came back around to writing prose and, and just about anything under the sun and documentary blended with the journalism experience I had.

And so I do a lot of [00:03:00] freelance in that space too. So I just really love telling stories whether the medium is. A newspaper article, a column, a book, a short story, a movie, a documentary, whatever it is. Or even a comic book. I really love just telling stories for, for whatever medium I can get my hands on.


David Gwyn: it's good stuff. That's where I want to talk to you about is range of writing that you do, but before we we get any further, there's some Wikipedia, Brian Young lore that I need to know about. I wanna know if it's true. At age 18, you were the first person in, in, in the city of Provo, in line for the opening of Star Wars one, and then three years later did the same thing, and you got there three weeks early for the opening of Star.

Is that, is that true? Yeah, 

Bryan Young: no. I spent a lot of time waiting in line for Star War . 

David Gwyn: What was that 

Bryan Young: experience like? Those were great. It was just sort of a block party. But the reason I went out so long for, for Phantom Menace is when the special editions had come out. I was still in high [00:04:00] school and being a Star Wars fan at that time in the, in the, you know, nineties.

There was like no one cared like . No one cared about Star Wars. And so I was like, You know what? I'm gonna spend a night in line for Star Wars. No one's gonna do that. And I showed up and the line was around the block. Wow. From the day before. And I was like, Well, you know what? For Empire Strikes back, I'm gonna make sure I don't miss that.

I'm gonna come three days before, and it was still halfway around the block, , and then I did a week for Returning the Jedi and it was still, I was still like 10th in line and I was like, you know what? I'm gonna do a month. I mean, I've done . If I'm gonna do a week for a Star Wars movie, I've already seen, I'm gonna do a month for what I haven't.

And it was just a great experience, right? Like it was just, it was a huge block party of people who really liked Star Wars. 

David Gwyn: Yeah. That's so cool. I mean, I, I feel like it was maybe a little telling about where you went with your career. I mean, your writing has done some amazing things for you. You, you interviewed Carrie Fisher who obviously played Princess Le in the Star Wars franchise.[00:05:00]

What was that experience like? How did you land that gig? 

Bryan Young: So that was I was doing a lot of Star Wars. Coverage. At the time I was writing, I was covering Star Wars for a number of websites and actually and Star Wars Insider Magazine. And it was after the Force Awakens had been filmed, but before it had been released, and she was doing a a convention in Salt Lake City.

And they said, Hey Brian you're our only choice to do the moderation for, for asking her questions. So we'd like you to do that. And I was like, Okay, great. And then they came back and said, Not gonna happen. She can't do it. And then they came back and said, No, she wants to do it, so you're back on.

And it kind of went back and forth all the way up to like three days before the con Wow. They were like, Lucas Film said no. And then like the morning of, they're like, Okay, it's back on. She wants to do it anyway. You've got 15 minutes and you know, ask her some questions, but you cannot. Let her talk about the force awakens.

So I was like, That's cool, . And it was, it was the most bizarre interview experience of my life. I [00:06:00] went backstage to meet her and she's back there with her dog, Gary, and she's, she's, I go to introduce myself and say, Hey, I'm Brian Young. I'm gonna be asking you the questions on stage. And she's like, That's great.

She turns around. Talks to Gary and goes, Okay Gary, we're gonna go up there now you have to stay here, . And she kinda repeat and then she comes, she turns back around to me and goes, Does anybody have a Diet Coke? And I was like can someone get, you know, Princess Le, a Diet Coke ? And someone from Backstage hands her a diet Pepsi.

And the look on her face was enough that like I c. I would never live it down. So finally we go up onto the stage and just after they introduce her and I, and I'm about to ask my first question, she jumps the gun on the mic and goes, Does anyone in this room have a diet Coke ? And some guy from the audience raises a diet Coke can over his head.

She goes, Bring it up here. She kneels down and open mouth kisses this guy on stage. For the Coke, and I'm just like, [00:07:00] It doesn't matter what I say, It doesn't matter what my questions are. Like no one's gonna remember anything but this . And then I started asking her questions, you know I, I wanted to actually get into her career as a writer because that was something I haven't seen her talk as much about.

Everybody wants to ask about Princess Le and no one wants to ask about her time writing. And I mean, she's a terrific writer in her own right, and I hadn't seen much about her. Rewrites on the prequels or her work for George Lucas. And I ask her about that and instead of giving me any meaningful story, she goes, Oh, right, yeah, I did a lot of writing for George.

I took away Indie's virginity. And she goes into this story about how she was a writer on the young Indiana Jones Chronicles and wrote the episodes about Maah Hari sleeping with Indiana Jones. And it was just like, there was no predicting where that would go or how it would be, and, and, One of, one of the strangest experiences Star Wars has ever brought me in as far as interviewing

David Gwyn: You've also interviewed Ryan Johnson of, of Knives Out.

You've gotten to work on films, expand the worlds of stories you [00:08:00] care about. I, I guess the, the question I have is, did, was this always the career trajectory that you planned and Anticip. 

Bryan Young: No. I mean the, the career trajectory I wanted was, I wanted to make a narrative movies. I wanted Ryan Jonathan's career, to be honest.

I wanted to make, I wanted to make some indie films that got me noticed and I wanted somebody to let me make a Star Wars film. That's the career trajectory that I wanted. But telling stories however I could is really what I ended up doing. and I'm still interested in film, still really love film.

My day job, which I, I have is, is sort of. Production adjacent and still do short films and still write screenplays. I just won actually a screenwriting competition actually in my, my screen for one, first place in a, in a competition. And, and so film is still really where a lot of my heart is, but telling stories, I think is, is really the point of my career trajectory and I've always held true to that, even if I haven't always told them in the medium or at the scale that I've wanted [00:09:00] to.


David Gwyn: hmm. That makes a lot of sense. It is there. So you've done a lot of different projects, obviously. Is there a through line that you see in your work? Is there something that you find that your projects have in common? 

Bryan Young: Yeah. I think some of the stuff that my projects have in common there's definitely like motifs that recur.

 There's a lot of people who are sort of broken by their childhoods through a lot of my work. There's a lot of I think there's a lot of like, Hope in things. Sometimes it can get bleak, but ultimately it's, it's me trying to tell or communicate some idea that I think might possibly make the world a better place if people actually read it or watched it or to help them understand something better that they might not understand.

Which I guess is maybe the most vague, generic answer I could give . But, but that's, I think that's what I set out to do. 

David Gwyn: No, that makes a lot of sense and I, I feel like. One of the reasons I was really [00:10:00] excited to chat with you is because I, I do, I tend to talk to a lot of, kind of pure novelists on here, People who, who write books and focus on writing novels.

And I, I feel like, and maybe this isn't the right wor word for what you do, but you're a little bit more of an omnivore when it comes to your writing. And I think that you kind of mentioned that, that like, regardless of the medium, you're, you're really interested in telling stories. And so when you're thinking about taking on a project, do you have a formula that you think about or is it anything that goes through your mind as like a, even like a checklist, like something that you're thinking about that makes you decide like, Yeah, this is the right project for me right now?

Bryan Young: Well what people are gonna pay me for sort of at the top of the word . But below that, when I'm working on projects for myself and I, and I do, I'm always in the middle of a project for myself, it's what would I wanna be reading now? What do I have a taste for that I can't? Quite find anywhere else, or how do I wanna bridge some sensibilities that I have with something I think that people wouldn't pay attention to unless it, it maybe has a genre wrapper, right?

Like or, or things like that. And then [00:11:00] figuring out what form they're going to exist in really comes down to how I break down the story in my head. Whether it's going to be a short film or a screenplay, or a novel or a short story. They're all different types of stories that have different sorts of limitations based on the media and what's eventually going to happen with it.

If it's a, The final version is the actual words on the page, like in pros or. If it's a blueprint for the final version in, in a script. And so it, it really is a lot of mental calculus about how I want to tell the story and what the most effective way to tell that story is going to be. Right. I think just as an, a thought exercise, I thought it would be hilarious to try to figure out.

How I could write an adaptation, like a novelization of Charlie Kaufman's adaptation. And I realize like the more I, I dive into that, it's such a purely cinematic experience. There's no way you could turn the narrative the way they do without having the [00:12:00] visuals and the structure that Kaufman created.

It would be so difficult to do it as a novel and it's. If I were gonna tell that story, it would be a screenplay. So me trying to figure out how to do anything with it would be, would be useless. But I mean, not all hardly anything I do is like an adaptation or anything. But though I have adapted my own work in, in ways where I'll write something as a screenplay first and then go, you know what?

I think there's more meat to those bones. I could expand that into a novel. Here's a short story and there's, there's a notion there that I think could get into a novel or a screenplay or something, and so, so much of its experimentation too. 

David Gwyn: No, it makes, that makes total sense. What is the main project you're working on now?

Like what are you looking forward to coming up in the next couple of months? 

Bryan Young: Right now I'm working, I've got, again, it's deadlines, right? So I just turned in another novella in the Battle Tech universe. I'm turning in a short story in the shadow run universe, and then a game company contracted me to do a superhero novel.

Oh wow. So those are sort [00:13:00] of the three things I'm working on in the short term. And then I've got a serial novel that I've been contracted to do after that. And in the meantime I've got a screen plan I'm working on that I'm really excited about. And I'm also sort of toying with a novel of my own to, to draft it.

I also have some, some books out on submission with my agent. And so there should be some edits coming in soon on those. And then I'm doing my freelance, like writing gigs, so I'm covering the new Star Wars TV show for slash film pretty regularly. In fact, as as soon as we're done with this, I gotta go write some more coverage

So it it just a lot of stuff. And, and actually as we record this I had a book come out today actually. It was the the Big Bang Theory book of lists, which was a contract job that I got that, that just basically I had to spend a month going through the Big Bang Theory TV show and coming up with lists and timelines and trivia and all kinds of interesting stuff and package it in a really fun and interesting way.

David Gwyn: That's where I was headed. I was. I'm so glad you you took us there [00:14:00] because that was gonna be my next question. It, it felt, and, and, and you kind of answered it, which is, you know, it's a, it's a contract job, but I'm dying to know where are these, I mean, are these jobs that you're seeking out?

Are people reaching out to you? Are they reaching out to your agent? Is your agent finding these, Like, what is the process

Bryan Young: so much of it is like, so much of it is just like being out there invisible. This particular job was an editor, approached my agent looking for me, seeing if I would be available because I had done things in the geek space, right?

Like it, it seemed like it was in my wheelhouse and with all of the journalism stuff that I'd seen that they were doing, they thought I'd be capable of it. And. I like to think I have a reputation for being able to turn things in on time, even on really tight deadlines, and they had a really tight deadline.

So I think, I think that's why I got that. With stuff like Battle Tech and Shadow Run, it was I was doing conventions and, and just hanging out with the editors and the agents and the publishers and other writers around and just sort of [00:15:00] met and got to know the folks who publish those properties.

and was able to get an invite to, to, to write a book there. And that's turned into, I've written, I've published seven stories with them two novels, four novellas and, and a short story so far. But I've turned in. I've turned in three novellas short two other short stories, and I think something like four more novel pitches that are sort of down on the, the, the, the block to get to get approved.

And they just, it was just a really great working relationship and we liked it, and so we just kept going. Other times it's just word of mouth, right? I've been having a lot of fun writing trading cards lately. Mm. So I've been writing a lot of the Tops, Star Wars trading cards, and a lot of, there's a different company called the Written House Archive that does Dr.

Who trading cards, and I've been writing those. And that's been a really interesting writing experience. Just the brevity of those. But that was, I had a friend who was writing trading cards and they needed somebody [00:16:00] again who. Do things quick on a deadline and, and write clean copy and do the properties.

And I got recommended and, and I've been doing that for almost, geez, almost two years now. Wow. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, it just, it seems like you got a little bit of everything going on, which I think is so cool. And like I said, it is not the traditional person that, that I talk to on this podcast, which is why I'm, I'm really I, I've been really excited to chat with you.

We kind of have gotten there, we're talking about a little bit, but I, I just kind of want to flesh it out more specifically, which is, so this season of my podcast is, is really I'm focusing on writers who have a first draft of manuscript and they're, they're trying to land a publishing deal.

They're trying to find an agent that, that kind of process. And, and one of the things that I think is so important that I, I think that you do really well, whether you, whether you mean to or not, and I guess we'll find out in a second. But you seem to build a really solid readership around your work.

you know, You're writing Star Wars [00:17:00] articles and then you have, you know, Star Wars stories and you have, you know, you have these kind of things going all at all at once here, and you're in, you know, you're doing conferences, you're doing nonfiction, writing, all of that. So it, it's, the thing I really wanna talk to you about is, do you think at all about the ways in which you're using nonfiction to build a brand?

That helps you find readers and or find contracts for new writing opportunities? 

Bryan Young: Absolutely. So I was working on a documentary back in 2006, 2007, and it would end up getting distributed by the. The disinformation company, which is a hybrid publisher, and they used to be in distribution for films, but they've since gotten out of that game and They, we, we were trying to really, I was producing the film and I'd written the film and it was about the food system in the United States.

And I kept trying to get into Huffington Post. I wanted them to write about the, the, [00:18:00] the, the movie. And they kept saying like, No, we're not gonna do anything with your press release. We're not gonna write. But listen, we've got this new blog we're rolling out. Would you like to write it for us? Write something that that can obliquely market your.

Movie for our website, and then you can, you, you know, you can put the little thing at the bottom saying your movie's coming out in your bio or whatever, and it it like a light bulb turned on my head. And this was back in 2006 or so, so like before everybody and their cousin had a legitimate looking website to write about things for, right.

And so I wrote for Huffington Post for a while and I, I worked for another website called Big Shiny Robot that I, I co-founded that actually because I was sick of writing about just politics. I wanted to write about Star Wars too. And, and so that was me just building a brand in readership and then social media sort of very.

[00:19:00] Stealthily crept into that. And I didn't realize I was building a brand, but it was very much that, and it was just people who liked to hear what I had to say. And when I would publish things in pros, they would follow me for that too. And, and yeah. So I've been very conscious of the fact that that people.

For reasons beyond me are interested in what I have to say or how I, I put things and they're willing to follow me around to the pros when they can or when it's of interest to them and to, to stitch those different audiences together. Right? I mean, I've definitely been hearing on Twitter over the last couple days, folks that were introduced to me through the Battle Tech universe who.

We're also fans of Big Bang Theory, who only got my book because they only heard about it because of my social media and that crossover there. And as I step into other things, I think it's gonna be the same thing there too. 

David Gwyn: Let's pause there so far, Brian shared some really interesting writing experiences he's had. [00:20:00] And if you want to be a career writer, 

being able to write about a variety of topics and on a deadline is key. But what if you're just trying to really build a brand around your fiction? 

If you're new here, I hope you're enjoying this interview. If you've listened to a few episodes before, I'm glad you're back. If you could, I'm going to ask you to do one of three things you get to choose first. If you're enjoying this episode, consider sharing on social media. If you do share tag me, I love connecting with people and continuing the conversations started on the podcast. 

A few people did this from the last podcast and it was really great to. 

Meet more writers on the same journey as me. Option to rate and or review the podcast. It takes less than a minute and we'll really make my day. Option three share with a writer friend, you have maybe a critique partner or just someone, you know, who's a writer. I hope this content will help people in their writing careers. And I need your help to spread the word. 

Do whichever of those three things you'd like to, but it would mean the world to me. If you did just one. Thanks so much. And the next part of this interview, Brian [00:21:00] and I get into the nuts and bolts of finding and landing writing gigs that can help build an audience. You're going to love the way he talks about finding your writing niche based on your interests and the way he thinks about building. 

An audience. 

For the fiction that he writes. 

Yeah. It, it's so interesting to me just, and like I said, this is one of the reasons I really wanted to to chat with you is it seems.

It seems like it happened for you organically, like you were just taking on writing jobs and like you said, you know, just kind of, everything kind of snowballed from there. And I think that's, that's just it. It's just so interesting to see, for me to kind of see the way that that's happening. And I, and like I said, I talk to a lot of novelists and a lot of novelists.

I think miss that, I think that they miss out on seeing themselves as. I don't wanna say a brand, but as, as someone to go to for X, Y, and Z. Right? They're like, I published a novel. I put it out there, I call it a day. And like I, I go back into the hole and write another one. And I [00:22:00] don't know that you can, I don't know how easy it is to do that anymore.

 I think it's a lot harder and I think that, you know, it's a testament to what what you're doing is building. A readership around what seems like unconnected things, but are actually interconnected in a lot of ways. I think that's so interesting. I I, I'm, I'm just like, am fascinated by that.


Bryan Young: if nothing else, they're connected by my interest. Right, right. Like and that's something like when I was writing for Star, that was exactly what I was doing because I wanted to talk about classic film. And Star Wars needed me inherently to talk about Star Wars and the column I had at Star Wars for eight years, and I still write it occasionally for slash film are like the, the cinematic influences behind Star Wars.

So I really wanted more people to watch Kosawa movies. So I would dissect the techniques from specific Carissa movies and display how George Lucas was using them in specific Star Wars movies and sort of like showing people how these things are connected and. I love looking at that [00:23:00] sweep of influences of, of writers and filmmakers and things, right?

Like I think THX 1138 American Graffiti in a New Hope are like this perfect trilogy of all the weird, seemingly disconnected stuff that's floating around in George Lucas's head. And he synthesized all of those from all of those influences until he came up with something that was as I mean all of those three films were brilliant, but like a new hope was sort of what happens when you blend those two things together.

Because if you look at a new hope, it's really you know, THX is the empire in American Graffitis, The Rebels. Hmm. 

David Gwyn: It's, I, I just, I can't, We could talk for hours. I mean, I'm like, I'm like riveted. It's so interesting and I think. and maybe we'll get to that with this next question, but thinking about the ways in which you just find the thing that you like and.

You know, you, there's gonna be other people who are into that thing. You know, there's gonna be other people who are just as invested or [00:24:00] just as curious about that thing as you are, right? Like is that kind of what you found? 

Bryan Young: Oh, absolutely. And, and even, even in those, like there's enough people who are like-minded.

No matter how original or different you think you are, that whatever niche you find yourself writing in or working in, somebody's gonna respond to that. And I think, that's that's why you have artists that can be these like cold hits because you don't actually need all that many people to care about what you're doing in order to make a living.

David Gwyn: So this might seem obvious to you as someone who's been doing this for a while, but let's say you're thinking about pitching a new non-fiction article. You, you come up with an idea and you're, and you're thinking about where it goes. Are you, are you doing more of like coming up with this idea, something that interests you and then trying to find a place where it fits?

Or are you looking at places you'd want it to be and then trying to build something that might be of interest? To publish,

Bryan Young: that. I, I've done it both ways. Right now I see my home seems to be slash film for the most part though, there's some other [00:25:00] places that I, where I've been writing.

But once you do that, you start looking at the lens through the places that you have access to, pitch to, but that doesn't mean like in order to get to those places, I had to figure out how to do that. Like when I started writing for Star I had tracked down the editor at a convention and was just like, I'd really like to write for you.

And he is like, Okay, what could you do as a column? And I pitched three or four ideas until I was like, There's no way they're gonna go for this. And it was the Cinema behind Star Wars column that I pitched and they were like, No, this is perfect. Do it. And I did it. Probably a hundred installments of that.

 So you do both, right? So like once you have the relationship, when you're building a relationship with the editor, you're kind of finding things that match their taste. And then once you have the relationship and the trust, you're looking to build things that they're just gonna say yes to with a minimum of.

Mm. Because they trust 

David Gwyn: you. Right. No, that makes total sense. And, and so I know you, you do a lot of teaching of writing. You're, you're, I think you're in [00:26:00] the midst of a short story writing class that you're working on now. You've got building tension coming up. If I'm, if I'm reading here in your website.

Yeah. That's 

Bryan Young: a workshop. Yeah. So I'm teaching a six week course at the University of Utah on short story writing. And then yeah, soon I've got a, a, a two hour workshop I'm doing about building tension and writing in, in pro's. 

David Gwyn: And even through, you know, Words of Prey podcast, which is, which is how, you know Chantel, why is, is that something that you make time for?

Why is that something that interests you? 

Bryan Young: There's two reasons. I mean, the mercenary reason is that they pay me . But the other reason is that I've never learned more about my process or the craft of writing. I've never learned more about it than when having to break it down to teach someone.

So teaching is actually one of the the best ways for me to learn and break down and understand what it is I'm doing and why I'm doing the things that I'm doing. I think there's a very. I believe that writers and artists, storytellers really should be very intentional with every word and every sentence that [00:27:00] they put down on the page.

And one of the things that I get really annoyed by is reading stories where there's no intentionality to it. . And so trying to break down all of the different ways I can approach being intentional with my craft has been really illuminating to me. And getting paid to teach classes about it helps me break down that and refine those bits of craft and that process in a way that that works for my brain.

David Gwyn: Yeah, that makes total sense. I, I always like to have authors who are on here give an agent shout out for, for their agent. I like I mentioned before, a lot of the people who listen and interact with me are people who are looking for an agent, hoping to find one. And, and I know that you're repped by Catherine Otem Thompson of Folio.

Is that correct? Yeah, that's correct. Yeah. What, what was it about Katherine? Decided you wanted to work with her, What was it about even like Folio more broadly that made you wanna sign on and work with them? 

Bryan Young: Well, with Folio it was, they had a really [00:28:00] broad portfolio of people that they, it seemed like they would have better contacts than I did.

Right. Like, they have a network that, that is very deep and entrenched in publishing. Is accessible, better to them than it is to me. With Kat specifically we met at a conference. I pitched her at a conference actually, and it felt like we really hit it off and I had a couple of different agents offer me a representation, but what it came down to was that, She gave me the best notes on the project.

She said, I really like this. I, I think it has a lot of potential, but here's what I think we would do. And it was like, beat for beat. What I would do if, if I had to go back and, and I will have to go back and take another crack at that story. They were various astute notes and it, it made me feel like she had that.

Caring of the, the material and would take good care of me. And you know, we had a few meetings and talked back and [00:29:00] forth and tried to work out like our, our communication style and things and. More than any of the other agents that I had talked to. Like, I think it, it, it just clicked and it felt right and she had the best ideas to utilize how prolific I tend to be.

Hmm. Rather than stifle that. Right. There's a lot of agents that I talked to that are just like, No, we're gonna keep you in this and we're gonna go with very small. You know, first round submissions and no, I don't care about the other stuff that you're doing, but she she's got a plan for, for everything.

So and, and so she would represent a much larger swath of my output than I would going with another agent. Hmm. 

David Gwyn: Yeah, that makes total sense. I, I think that's really interesting in a way. People who are listening to start thinking about what they're looking for in an agent and, and really what they're looking for in a writing career and how those, those two things need to, to line up for sure.

I've got three quick questions for you, and this will, this will be kind of our, our wrap up here. [00:30:00] If, if you could go back in time and, and talk to that, that younger version of yourself camping outside the Star Wars movie and you had like 30 seconds to a minute to, to talk to yourself, what do you think he'd.

Bryan Young: Really work harder because it's all gonna pay off. And the more work you put in now, the sooner it's gonna pay off. And if you spin your wheels you're gonna be on a longer timeline. 

David Gwyn: Hmm. Yeah. I love that message. So, what is something, you know, as, as I mentioned, kind of people who, who tend to listen to me and, and tend to interact with me are the, the people who are writing a novel and they're, they're in the query trenches, , like, it sounds like you were at one point I, if you could have them take away just one thing from this conversation, what do you think that thing would be?

Bryan Young: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. , Right? Like, write a lot of different stuff. As long as you can maintain your excitement about it. Because not everything that you do is gonna hit. So many writers I know, or that I [00:31:00] mentor or that I talk to are in that querying trench, but they've only got one project and that one project isn't doing it.

And it's like, they don't want, they don't have. knowledge of how the industry works to be able to put it aside and start a new one and start over. Cuz that feels really intimidating. But I mean, I've probably got, honest to God, 12 novels in my trunk right now and I think I could probably do something with half of 'em and half of 'em maybe might not ever see the light of day.

But it took me writing all of those to get to the point where I'm at now. . And so yeah, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Work in different media, Work in different formats. Work in different, like different things. Write different things. Try a new novel. If you're not having any luck with what you're working on now, finish it and try something else.

You know, Neil Gaiman says that you learn by finishing things, and I think that's absolutely true. And the more things you finish, the more you. Yeah. 

David Gwyn: What, what a great message for people to hear. [00:32:00] I, I think that's so important. That's awesome. So my last question to you is, where can people find you? You 

Bryan Young: can find me online on, on Twitter at swank matron

And or just by Googling Bryan Young and Star Wars or Battle Tech or whatever, there's about a trillion. Bryan Youngs out there, . So you've gotta, you've gotta add some qualifiers. But yeah, that's where people can find me and, and they can sign up for my newsletter on my website. Get signed books there or just check me out in general.

Like I said, swank mo Nice. And, 

David Gwyn: and yeah, if you're listening I'll link to all that stuff in, in the description so you can have quick access to Bryan because I think the stuff you're doing super valuable. So I, I thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I had a blast.

I, I really appreciate it. 

Bryan Young: Oh, no, thanks for having me. And, and it was, it was definitely my pleasure. 

David Gwyn: All right. Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Brian. I had such a great time and I feel like it started me [00:33:00] thinking about my own interests in a much different way. There's readers out there who are interested in the same things. You are start putting yourself out there and find places where you can share your interests. People will gravitate towards you for that. 

And you'll quickly grow a community and a readership. 

If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe to the free five minute writers series. It provides more lessons on storytelling without the fluff. So you don't have to waste a ton of time and you can get back to writing. There's a link for that in the description. Next time on the podcast. We're talking to author Jessica Payne about her second novel, the lucky ones, which is out now. 

We're also talking about her writing process for two book deal and what you should be doing now to ensure the successful launch of your book. Even if you're still querying or even drafting.