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Adam Interviews...William Brinkman!


Hello again!

That's right, it's time to take a break, so close those work tabs, get your favorite beverage, and get ready for another author interview!


Now I have William Brinkman sitting down with me, so let's meet him. William Brinkman is a fiction blogger, secular advocate, husband, cat parent, and the author of the Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi series the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s journalism program, he worked as an editor for two alternative publications. He later worked on the development team for White Wolf's Demon: The Fallen role-playing game. William interest in Bolingbrook IL started when he moved there in 1998. Fascinated by the residents and the mayor's political machine, he started writing satirical articles that were a cross between the Onion and the Weekly World News. He named this fictional tabloid the Bolingbrook Babbler. He never expected to still be posting Babbler articles over twenty years later.

In 2022, he released two books, Pathways to Bolingbrook and The Rift, which were inspired by his Babbler articles. The series, titled the Bolingbrook Babbler stories, are dramatic character driven Urban Fanasies with some science fiction elements. He described them as X-Files meets Fargo in Suburban Chicago. The books are separate from the web series. In 2023, he released the third Babbler Story, the novelette A Fire in the Shadows.

Today, he publishes his blog fiction and general commentary at Freethoughtblogs.com. He also serves on the board of a local humanist organization. When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and their cat.



Star Trek or Star Wars?

I like both, but if I had to pick one, I would go with Star Trek. It's presents a humanistic vision of the future we should aspire to and the challenges of upholding humanistic values.


DCU or MCU?

MCU. DCU overall structure was a mess. I did like the Though I liked the first Wonder Woman movie, which had the right balance of humor and drama.Overall, I felt the MCU had more relatable characters, and I liked how they adapted their characters from the comics to live action. They were also willing to give characters story arcs. Like how Tony Stark grew from a playboy billionare, to a man willing to sacrifice himself to save the universe.


Reboots – a great idea or a lack of creativity?

Depends on the project. The Battlestar Galactica reboot was far superior to the original. On the other hand, did we really need a remake of Total Recall?


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in grade school, I always loved to create stories. Star Wars and 2001 turned me into a young science fiction fan, and my stories reflected that.However, from middle school through 10th grade I had a severe case of writer’s block. Basically I had an awful experience writing one story and lost the desire to finish writing other stories. It felt like the stories I imagined were too long and complicated and the thought of starting them overwhelmed me. In 11th grade, I had a creative writing teacher helped get over that writing block. It was the start of my literary writing phase. In that phase, I learned how to develop characters, and not rely on fantasy elements to move the story along. When I resumed writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy, my stories were stronger because they were character driven. Today, I still strive to have character focused stories. Because it’s better to care about a character, than to read paragraphs of world building that contribute nothing to the story.


Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Many of my best ideas involve taking events and people in my life, then adding a fantastical twist. The four and a half years I lived in Bolingbrook, IL inspired the Bolingbrook Babbler series . The Rift was inspired by the Elevatorgate controversy within the Atheist/Skeptical movement. The elevator incident in the book, was based on a real incident in an elevator. As in the book, the "incident" caused the rift in the atheist/skeptical movement that persists to this day.


When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first novel length work when I was 32. It was a World of Darkness fan fiction novel, Butterfly Wings. An editor liked my sample so much, he invited me to contribute to their Demon: The Fallen RPG, which hadn't been announced. I ended up working with them for about two years. Though the pay wasn’t much, it was an honor to contribute to the company that produced one of my favorite RPGs. I still consider it a highlight of my writing career, and I’m proud of the stories I contributed. 



What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy watching movies with my wife, and spending time with our 15 ½ year old cat.


What does your family think of your writing?

They love it, though I don’t think they fully understand some themes in my stories.


What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

When I started researching how to publish The Rift, I was surprised at how accessible self-publishing had become. There was no way a small atheist press would publish The Rift, and an editor at one of the major publishers would have torn it apart to make it marketable. Now it is possible to publish a book that won’t get past the gatekeepers but will resonate with readers.


How many books have you written? Which is your favorite

I’ve self-published three books. The Rift, my first novel, is my favorite, followed by A Fire in the Shadows.

Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

“Writing what you know,” doesn’t mean only writing about what you’ve studied. It means what you know on an emotional level. For example, I don’t know what it’s like to be a vampire who regained the ability to feel love and empathy. But I know what it is like to be neurodivergent. I don’t have the experience of getting kicked out of my home as a teenager, but I do know what it is like to deal with the aftermath of traumatic events. You know far more than you realize.


Do you like to create books for adults?

Yes. I would struggle if I had to create children’s, or YA books since I don’t have children of my own.


As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

A famous and respected science fiction writer. Still working on the famous part, and my recent work is more Urban Fantasy than Sci-Fi.


What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Vanity publishers. They drain the bank accounts of aspiring writers and give back nothing of value. If you decide to go into traditional publishing, remember that the publisher pays you. You don’t pay a publisher.



Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. Some days I feel inspired by a scene. Other days it can be a struggle to get through a scene because it’s hard to articulate what is happening or how a character feels. Then I have to remind myself to keep going, because I can always revise that scene later.


Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Hurts. See Stephen King’s work at the height of his cocaine period. You want to have enough of an ego to stand up to the trolls, but still be able to listen to the editors and friends who want to help you improve your writing.


What is your writing Kryptonite?

The Internet. I start to do research or do marketing, then the next thing I know, I’ve lost several hours that I could have spent on my book.


Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

For the Babbler Stories, my goal is for a new reader to jump in at any point, and for long time readers to have enough connections to reward readers who follow the entire series.


Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

Han. It was his only chance to escape certain death.


Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? What is your preferred format?

I write novels, novellas, and short stories. I prefer novellas because I can finish one in a few months. However, it seems like most readers want to read novels.


What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?

This world is all there is and all we need.


What do you have coming next?

I’m working on my next novel, Revenge of the Phantom Press, which is the direct sequel to The Rift. This one focuses more on the Urban Fantasy aspect of the Bolingbrook Babbler setting. Can Bolingbrook survive when its past and present collide?



From The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story (Book 2):


Robert left and Tom quickly dressed himself. He opened the door and was startled by a man in blue tinted sunglasses, a navy blue suit, and a light blue shirt blocking the doorway. The man, who towered over Tom, looked down. He paused for a moment, then stepped out of the way. Tom hesitantly entered the next room.

The room looked like a high-end apartment with an open kitchen and bar. Robert stood near the left wall, on which two metallic plates had been mounted. Next to him stood a man who looked and dressed exactly like the doorway guard. By their side were two couches facing the metallic plates. Tom hesitantly approached Robert and his companion.

Robert motioned towards the plates. “I find it’s best to start with the view.” Tom heard a buzz as the plates separated, revealing a window. He approached, then felt his jaw drop. Outside, he noticed a white disc-shaped craft that resembled an upside-down pie pan. Next to it hovered a blurry black triangular craft with lights along its edge. Both were the size of jumbo jets, yet lacked any visible thrust.

Tom’s suite was one of several that lined the walls of this steel cave, like skyboxes ringing a football stadium. About fifty feet below him, he saw ground crews using safety batons to direct craft to landing areas. An egg-shaped vessel on the ground that resembled a Martian Colonial shuttle caught his eye. Beside it, Tom noticed a being with three arms supervising its unloading. The decorations on the being’s suit reminded him of the ambassador who was always threatening to destroy the Earth.

Tom reached out to touch the window, expecting it to be an illusion. Instead of touching the glass, his fingers went numb, as if going to sleep. He jerked his hand away, then reached back out of curiosity. Again, his fingers tingled, but nothing pressed back. After stretching another two inches, he noticed the temperature was warmer on the other side.

“Don’t stay out there too long,” said Robert.

Holding his breath, Tom leaned forward. His head passed through the field, and on the other side, he heard a symphony of voices on the ground and the buzz of spacecraft surrounding him. He inhaled. The air was still and smelled like the aftermath of a thunderstorm. A public address announcer said something in French, then in a language he’d never heard.

Tom scanned the chamber again. It all felt so real. He was in a place that he had stopped believing in long ago.

Tom pulled his head back into the room and then looked at Robert, who nodded.

“Now do you understand?”

“My God,” Tom heard himself say.

“Common reaction,” Robert replied bluntly. “Do you remember everything you read in the Babbler?”

Tom nodded.

“Not much has changed in twenty years. Clow is still the largest urban UFO base in the world—and it’s my base.”

Tom looked back at the landing bay. The Babbler was telling the truth, at least about Clow Base. He remembered all the times he’d debunked the base’s existence. The arguments were sound, yet here he was.

Robert cleared his throat.

“It’s like being in an Asimov novel,” said Tom.

Robert shook his head. “Not enough robots. Let’s go.”

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