Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the collection’s premise, and what inspired you to tell these stories?
Douglas R. Brown: A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories is a collection of supernatural and psychological tales that explore both the darkest and most heroic parts of a man’s soul. In the six stories, there are firefighters, ghosts, serial killers, and the mentally ill. Once I settled on writing the title novella, A Firefighter Christmas Carol, using my own devastating experiences on the fire department along with the inspiration from Charles Dickens and his famous Scrooge tale, the feel of the collection began to take shape. As a firefighter, most, if not all, of the stories here were inspired by things I’ve seen on the job. The idea for the final story in the collection, "DOA," for example came to me while I was on a riverbank helping to recover the body of a man who had drown a few weeks before. I was thinking about why this person could be in the river. And then, I wondered what would happen if he had something devious to hide that he wasn’t able to take care of before he died.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in adapting Charles Dickens’ beloved classic, and what have been some of your creative influences?
DRB: Ideas need to marinate in my head for a while before I get to putting them on paper, and this novella was no different. I had the idea of using Scrooge’s story as a template to tell my own story of PTSD a couple years ago. But I wasn’t ready to delve into it just yet, as I knew whatever I wrote would have to be special given the serious nature of the topic. That’s not something I was willing to just throw lazily onto paper. I am a firefighter and paramedic, and I have personally lost nearly a half-dozen coworkers and friends to suicide over my career. So yeah, I needed to do this right or not do it at all. What you will read in the title novella took a lot of hard work. Sure, writing any story is hard work, but walking that line of respecting the struggles of others and not adding to their pain while being brutally honest in one’s writing is difficult to say the least. I believe I’ve successfully walked that line.
As for creative influences, I have always been a fan of Stephen King, though I don’t write much like him. I write closer to a Terry Goodkind or a Brandon Sanderson. I’m kind of on an Ernest Cline kick right now, too. A lot of my writing has been influenced by other media artists like Wes Craven and the old slasher films of the '80s. I must also mention Dickens, as I believe his work was sometimes genius.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that A Firefighter Christmas Carol’s story will connect with and impact readers?
DRB: I appreciate this question. While I’ve spoken briefly about this earlier, I am happy to have the opportunity to expand. This collection is dedicated to first responders everywhere. I am hoping to shine a spotlight on first responder PTSD and suicide, while showing those who are struggling that they’re not alone, that what they feel is normal, and, most importantly, that there is a way out. I also wanted to show those outside of fire and EMS what some of their friends and family and neighbors might just be going through. On top of all that, it was crucially important that I kept the casual reader in mind and created something everyone could enjoy. I believe this story is an important one for many reasons, and others are feeling the same. The pre-release reviews have already been overwhelmingly positive. After reading this story, the chief of my large department, the Public Information Officer, and the head of our Employee Assistance Program who specializes in PTSD have all gotten behind the project. This is an important topic, and I worked hard to make it approachable for everyone, not just first responders. When you say #StoriesMatter, that couldn’t be truer.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DRB: I’ve always got a couple projects waiting in the wings. My next release that’ll come out sometime next year is a unique spin on a serial killer-type of story. I call it The Thin Line, and it’s devilishly good, if I do say so myself. But my most anticipated release will be my long-awaited sequel to Tamed. To date, Tamed has been my most popular book yet. I mean, how can you go wrong with a company selling werewolves as pets? I’m expecting to release Untamed (tentative title) on the ten-year anniversary of the first book’s release in 2023. It’s already looking amazing.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories?
DRB: A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories is available on eBook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook at all online bookstores as of September 13th, 2021. You can find out more about me and my work at www.epertasepublishing.com where you can subscribe and be alerted to what is coming next. Thank you for the interview. I look forward to more from Fanbase Press in the future.