“I once rode shotgun in a car for three hours with a coral snake in a five-pound coffee can between my feet. Last year I rode shotgun in a car for a few miles with a rattlesnake in a salad container in my lap. In between, I wrote nine novels, some of which are almost that crazy.”
A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for 15 years, Brad Whittington lives in Austin.
BW: I am somewhat genre-fuzzy, as it were. I tend to have an idea, such as assisted suicide vacations or a sheriff who hears voices coming from a muffin, and then build a story around it.
Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with?
BW: I would say P.G. Wodehouse, but he was notoriously anti-social, so that would probably not end well. Maybe Damon Runyon. Although dinner with G.K. Chesterton or Robertson Davies would probably be highly enjoyable.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
BW: I can never get to the answer on this question because I’m always overwhelmed by the implications of the scenario. How do I get to this island? Kidnapped? Why did the napper give me the chance to select a book first?
And what exactly is his motivation? Is he the villain, and if so, will he have a character arc that somehow mirrors or contrasts with my character arc, or is he vanquished unrepentant? Will he supply rations for the duration? Is there a hut available, or will I have to build my own shelter?
There are a lot of unanswered questions that must be addressed before we tackle the matter of setting up the library. But if we must discuss the book list without learning the answers to those questions, then I’m going for a book on agriculture, one on construction, a survival guide, and a manual on building a boat. And probably a copy of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
BW: I’ve enjoyed many of the classes and meetings. My favorite was the half-day “How to Write a Whodunit” led by Rick Riordan. I was living in Honolulu at the time and was talking with a friend about co-writing some murder mysteries. We are both fans of Riordan’s Tres Navarre series. I said, “What we really need to do is to fly to San Antonio, knock on Riordan’s door, and offer to buy him lunch if we can ask a few questions.”
The next month, WLT advertised the class. It was cheaper than the restraining order I would likely get if I went with my first plan. I immediately signed up for the class and bought a plane ticket. This was before the Percy Jackson series was published, although the first novel was in production at the time.
But ultimately, as Tom Lehrer said, “Life is like a sewer — what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” WLT has a lot to offer, but, as with writing, you only reap the rewards when you make the effort.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
BW: Out on the deck with a martini and a cigar. At least for the first draft. Revisions are with coffee and tea.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
BW: Although the books came out long ago, Joe R. Lansdale’s Savage Season made it to the small screen this year in the form of a series, and it was just as twisted and hilarious as the novel. But be advised, he’s not for everyone.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
BW: I once rode shotgun in a car for three hours with a coral snake in a five-pound coffee can between my feet. Last year I rode shotgun in a car for a few miles with a rattlesnake in a salad container in my lap. In between, I wrote nine novels, some of which are almost that crazy. If you checked them out at BradWhittington.com, it would sure make me proud.
If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!