Visit the author at www.larrybrill.com
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Born in San Jose, CA, I stayed close to home and got a Journalism degree from San Jose State University before spending the next 25 years as a TV news anchor and reporter in four states. My last stint was at the NBC affiliate in Austin, TX where I decided I liked the town enough to stay here. I left broadcasting to start my own video production and marketing firm.
What made you become a writer?
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t telling stories or writing in one form or another-- high school newspaper, college, all those years as a journalist. As a kid, I wrote my first long story in a Big Chief tablet. It was a total rip-off of the Hardy Boys.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
The Patterer is a very funny story that imagines what it would be like if a common street performer with uncommonly gifted pattering skills in 1765 London decided to create a “news performance” that anticipates today’s TV newscasts. It’s like Monte Python meets Charles Dickens.
The hero, Leeds Merriweather, wants to be taken seriously as a journalist but doesn’t have the resources to publish his own newspaper. After a chance, drunken encounter with Ben Franklin, he’s inspired to hire a zany cast of characters to create the news performance. becoming history’s first celebrity newscaster.
This is just my way of poking fun at the clichés of today’s TV newscasts using a historical setting.
What inspired you to write it?
I was reading Eric Burns’ book on the history of journalism in America. Early on, when he traces its roots back to Europe, he had one short paragraph that mentioned the existence of these fellows called “Patterers” who would stand on the street corner and deliver bits of news.
With my 25 years experience as a TV news anchor it was a simple leap for me to imagine a character and a storyline that took the concept to absurd extremes. Once I created the hero, Leeds Merriweather, he took over and told the story himself. I just took dictation and published it.
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
Actually two things. First, news people today, especially on the local level, take themselves way too seriously. At the end of the day, what they do is entertain the audience.
The second thing is that the stuff that professionals call news has not changed one iota over the centuries. Only the technology to deliver it has changed.
Where can readers buy The Patterer?
Amazon or our local independent bookstore in Austin. I always encourage supporting independent bookstores and the IndieBound network. You may purchase online.
If you could meet any writer (living or dead) who would it be?
There are so many who would be battling it out for a spot on my top ten list. This may seem like too pat of an answer, but I would start with Hemmingway. He isn’t necessarily my favorite author, but his life experiences would make him a natural choice for someone with whom I’d like to sit down, share a bottle of wine and swap stories.
What is one fact about yourself you wish to share with our readers?
Since humor is the engine that drives my stories, I would reveal that I was once the official “Worst” writer in America. Every year the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest holds a tongue-in-cheek competition to intentionally write the worst opening sentence to an imaginary novel. It’s based on the opening line that Snoopy made famous “It was a dark and stormy night…” Bulwer-Lytton gets upwards of ten thousand entries each year and I won the contest more than a decade ago. So my goal as a writer now, with two novels out, is to reach the bestseller list and stake the claim that I went from worst to first.
What is up next for you?
I’m plotting a sequel to The Patterer that brings our hero to America in time to witness and comment in his irreverent way on the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.
In the meantime, I’ve been kidnapped by a story that is trying to write itself. If you could go back to high school and change one thing, would you and what would that be?
That story line has been beaten to death, but always involves some mystical happenstance or encounter with a time machine. My thought is what if someone was obsessed with wanting a “do-over”, but at age 50+ doesn’t have access to time travel? How far would he go to recreate his senior year of high school?
Is there anything you would like to add?
Nope. It’s best not to get me started lest we be here all day.
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