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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview with Author Robert Browne

Robert Browne is an AMPAS Nicholl Award-winning screenwriter who ran screaming from the movie industry and jumped into writing novels. His first novel, Kiss Her Goodbye, was recently produced in Chicago as a pilot for a CBS Television series tentatively titled The Line, by Sony Pictures and Timberman/Beverly Productions, with a script written and directed by Michael Dinner. 

Before the jump, he developed screenplays for Showtime, Viacom, Saban/Fox Kids, Krost-Chapin, and Marvel. He was also staff writer for Fox Kids’ Diabolik, and a contributing screenwriter for Spider-Man Unlimited. Post jump, Rob has written four thrillers for St. Martin’s Press in the U.S., Macmillan in the UK, Droemer Knauer in Germany, with books also published in Russia, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.

His books Kiss Her Goodbye and Whisper In the Dark, are critically acclaimed. As well as his third novel, Kill Her Again and Down Among The Dead Men. His short story, Bottom Deal can be found in Lee Child’s Killer Year: Stories to Die For. The story has been optioned for television. His new thriller, The Paradise Prophecy, is in stores now.


Before you became a novelist, you were a screenwriter. What made you take the leap from one form of media to another?

As much as I love movies and enjoyed writing screenplays, the screenwriting business is often a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Beyond the first draft, screenplays never belong to the writer. Everyone has changes they want made to the story, the characters, the structure—oftentimes based on a whim. 

From beginning to end, novels belong to the writer, and I wanted that control over my stories. Writing my first novel was a liberating experience.

Which is harder, writing for film or writing a book?

A book, by far—although they're different disciplines and have their own sets of problems.

Why did you choose to write thrillers?

I grew up reading thrillers. I loved the novels of Donald Westlake, Ed McBain, Raymond Chandler, Ross McDonald. They always say you should write what you know. Well, I think you should write what you love.

Bad guys on occasion will win at the end of a movie. Is it okay if the bad guy wins in a novel? Why or why not?

I think it all depends on the book and reader expectations. When you write a thriller, readers tend to want a happy ending. But, of course, my endings aren't always walk off into the sunset moments.

Can you describe your journey to publication?

I wrote a screenplay that a friend read and convinced me to write as a novel. It took me a few years, writing off and on at night to finally finish it. When it was done I contacted my old screen agent and asked if she'd read it and she said, of course. She read it, sent it to an agent friend in New York and a few months later it sold.

Aside from entertainment, why do you think readers are drawn to thriller and crime novels? Is there a difference between a crime novel and a thriller novel?

There are people who will tell you there are differences, but truthfully, the lines are so blurred these days that the difference is negligible. I think a lot of readers are drawn to thrillers because thrillers give them a momentary sense of closure. Despite these horrific crimes being perpetrated, everything is wrapped up in the end and the good guy usually wins. That doesn't often happen in real life.

I read that authors should welcome the occasional negative review because having only five star reviews doesn't lend to credibility. What do you think about negative reviews and do you accept it as just part of the process?

Reading is such a subjective endeavor that it's inevitable that you're going to get bad reviews. I honestly don't mind them too much—some people have tastes that my work will never satisfy—but I do find myself annoyed by reviews that seem to have been written by people with an axe to grind.

I remember reading a review of a book (the title and author escape me) in which the reviewer said something along the lines of "I usually only read the classics, but I thought I'd slum a bit and read this book. What a mistake."

Well, if you usually only read classics and you already have that attitude about the book, of course you aren't going to like it. So why bother to do a review?

I'm also highly annoyed by literary snobs. Those who feel that there's only a certain type of book that's worthy of the world's attention and everything else—meaning genre work—is crap.

The truth is, we all have different tastes and one person's garbage is another person's treasure.

I know your first novel, Kiss Her Goodbye, was produced as a pilot for CBS, tentatively titled, The Line. As a screen writer, which of your books would make the perfect adaption to film?

I think the latest one, The Paradise Prophecy, would be spectacular as a movie. In fact, many of the emails I get about it are from readers hoping it'll be made into one.

The books has been optioned by the folks who make the Twilight movies, so there's hope we'll see it on the screen one day. But you never know in Hollywood.

I must do my WWW's. What have you recently finished reading, what are you currently reading and what will you likely read next?

I recently finished 11/22/63, which is a brilliant time travel book by Stephen King. I didn't want it to end. I'm currently reading The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo, which is a Norwegian crime novel. I have no idea what direction I'll go in after that.

Let's say a reader can only purchase one of your books, which one would you recommend?

That's like asking which one of my children do I like the most, but I'll try. I have a soft spot for Down Among The Dead Men and Whisper in the Dark. And of course, we always love our most recent work, so I'd throw The Paradise Prophecy in there as well.

That's about the best I can do, I'm afraid.

Can you tell us one thing an aspiring writer should do and one thing an aspiring writer should not do?

I've said this before, but I'll say it again. An aspiring writer needs to stop aspiring and start perspiring. Get your butt in the chair and start writing. That's the only way you'll learn and the only way you'll get published. 

You can spend days, months, years studying other writers, studying books on craft, but you'll never succeed unless you sit your butt down and do the work. What you write will be crap, at first, but practice makes perfect.

What's the best advice you were ever given?
"Finish this book."

Which character in any of your books is most like you? Which character is most unlike you? 

Well, they're all like me to varying degrees, even the bad guys. I look at writing as similar to method acting. You rely on your own sense memories to make the characters real.

Have you ever walked out during a film in a movie theater or fell asleep during a film? If so, what film was it?

I seem to remember falling asleep during The Seven Percent Solution, which was a story about Sherlock Holmes teaming up with Sigmund Freud written by Nicholas Meyer. I'm sure the movie was great, but it was late at night, the third of a triple feature and I was exhausted after a long day. There may have been some alcohol involved, too, but that was a long, long time ago, so I can't be sure.

Can you tell us what projects you are currently working on?

I'm currently writing a mystery thriller called Trial Junkies, the first in a series which I'm pitching as The Big Chill meets Silence of the Lambs—although at this point I'm not sure how accurate that is. 

It's about a group of old college friends who come together to help one of their friends when the friend is arrested and put on trial for murder. They soon decide to take matters into their own hands and find the real killer themselves.

Thank you for sharing with us today Mr. Browne.

To keep up with author Robert Browne, please visit his website.
Click titles to purchase any of the books by Robert Browne.

Down Among the Dead Men
Whisper in the Dark
Kill Her Again

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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at and You may contact me via email at:

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