I’ve known Brad Whittington since his son and I were in the high school drumline together. As good friends with his son, I became fast friends with the family—all spectacular people in their own right. But life happened. The Whittingtons moved away, and I eventually went to college.
Still, I kept in touch, especially after Brad’s first book, Welcome to Fred, was picked up by a traditional publisher in 2003. The book is an hilarious, semi-autobiographical, fish out of water, adolescent preacher kid coming-of-age novel set in East Texas. (258 Amazon reviews averaging 4.5 stars can’t be wrong.) The setup was so ripe with fascinating characters and plot possibilities that he wrote two follow-ups, Living with Fred and Escape from Fred.
In time, Brad got the rights to those books back, and he re-published them under his own imprint, Wunderfool Books, beginning in 2010. Since then, he’s released at least one new self-published book every year. So, as he’s just released his ninth novel, The Reluctant Saint, I thought it prime time to ask him a few questions about self-publishing, the new book, and his writing influences.
Why did you start self-publishing?
The short answer: My first three novels were legacy published. Then I spent three years learning to write screenplays. During the interim the Kindle was invented. When I wrote a novel about a small-town sheriff who hears voices coming from a muffin, I realized this was not the kind of manuscript that makes agents swoon, plus the math is all on the side of indy [independent publishing], so that’s where I went.
The long answer is at “From Wannabe To Indie Author By Way Of Traditional Publishing.”
Of course, every author is a unique snowflake, but to what other authors would you compare yourself?
The Reluctant Saint is brought to you by the color blue and the letter Q. If those are your favorite, then you’re a perfect fit. If your favorite color is yellow, then read every third word of the novel for a special message.
I have in the past been compared to such varied styles as Dave Barry, Pat Conroy, PG Wodehouse, Fanny Flagg, Tom Robbins, Garrison Keillor, and Christopher Buckley. Usually by delusional people.
You’ve released some fascinating behind-the-scenes content for your new release. Where can we learn more about the creation of The Reluctant Saint?
I did an eight-part series on location scouting for The Reluctant Saint and a post on naming the chapters in the novel. [Ed. note: I love how Scrivener played an integral role in his chapter title creation.]
Why do you release a new book every April 1st?
Q: It’s Wunderfool Press. When else would we release books?
A: Sometimes we release books on October 1st, our half birthday.
From whom do you draw inspiration for your writing?
From deep in the dark recesses of my twisted brain, a raspy voice screeches things like, “If someone took a trip to commit suicide, what travel agency would he use?” Or “What would cause a small-town sheriff to hear voices from a muffin?” Then I can’t rest until I find out. Isn’t that how you do it?
What three books have rocked your world in the last year?
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
A: “Leave out the parts people skip.” — Elmore Leonard.
Q: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever given.
A: Quit now and avoid the rush.