Brock Booher makes a living flying commercial airliners, but that’s not all that he does professionally. His debut novel, “Healing Stone,” was released in April and is a paranormal story set in 1950s Kentucky.
Booher recently took some time to field questions in our Fiction Fest hot seat. Take it away, Brock!
What inspired the creation of “Healing Stone”?
The nugget for the story came from a short story that I wrote at a writing seminar with Orson Scott Card in 2009, but the inspiration came from the stories my parents told me about growing up in Cumberland County, Kentucky. Add some research of my own, and some old-fashioned imagination, and you have the inspiration of a novel. During the writing process I pulled from all the tools in my toolbox, and a few subconscious ones to bring the story to life.
Why a paranormal, racially charged tale and not one about, say, a commercial airline pilot who moonlights as a secret agent?
Because airline pilots a really boring. (laughs)
Well, I don’t mind pulling from personal experiences, and “Healing Stone” does that, but I didn’t want to write a “Mary Sue” novel (a novel with an idealistic protagonist that is secretly a wish-fulfillment for the author). However, my wife loves your suggestion. Perhaps…
Cedar Fort will publish a book later this year about drones that wreak air travel chaos. Given the fact that you’re a commercial pilot, can we expect a novel along these lines from you in the future?
The trouble with writing what you know is that it is too easy to find the plot holes. Because aviation is a field with which I am very familiar, it is harder for me to come up with believable plots. It is harder for me to exaggerate and twist the truth like a fiction writer needs to do in order to please readers. I am afraid that any story I write with aviation as the centerpiece might be boring.
Who would you want to see play the main characters in the motion picture version of “Healing Stone”?
Chris Brochu as Stone; Timothy Olyphant as Leck; Tommy Lee Jones as Billy Malony; Annette Benning as Ada; Shailene Woodley as Ruby; Ed Gathegi as Samuel; Forrest Whitaker as Otis; Marjuan Canady as Wonnie; Laverne Cox as Patsy Ann; Vince Vaughan as Cortis Russel; Jesse Plemons as Jed Mock.
Which writers have had the most impact on your writing style?
That is hard to say since I have only written one novel and my “style” is very undetermined, but I love Jesse Stuart, John Steinbeck, and of course have been taught by Orson Scott Card. I am still discovering my voice.
What’s your writing routine like?
I am a disciplined person and I try and fit 10 hours of writing into each week. I find time to write at home when I can and on the road while I am stuck in a hotel room. As for a writing routine, I like to listen to classical music to drown out distractions. I also have to turn off email and force myself not to check social media every 15 minutes. I carry a notebook with me all the time. You never know when an idea will come to you.
What’s the most joy writing has given you?
I wrote a short story titled “Stone: An Easter Story” (nothing to do with the novel) and even though it has no commercial potential, I love sharing it with people. My goal as a writer is to entertain and inspire you.
What one message to you hope readers take from reading “Healing Stone”?
We all have unique gifts. How we use those gifts is up to us.
What’s your current work in progress?
I just finished a manuscript about a street orphan in Peru that gets caught up in an organ-smuggling organization.
What advice would you like to offer aspiring novelists?
Figure out why you are writing. Then once you have your reason, write, write, write. Submit. Then write some more. Take an occasional class or seminar about writing. Write some more. Never forget why you are writing.