For this month’s edition of Seven Questions, I’m featuring flash-fictioneer and short story writer Brady Koch, who composes his “pulpy” short stories on the train to and from work. His new release is Guns, Gods, and Robots, a collection of seven science fiction and horror stories guaranteed to keep you up at night.
1 Can you pitch your book in three sentences?
Guns, Gods & Robots is a diverse collection of stories where routine life is turned upside down by the incorporation of a single sci-fi or horror deviation. Whether our characters are at a dusty remote frontier outpost, locked underground in a bunker for generations, or maintaining a fleet of robot missionaries in the 3rd world, their actions can result in catastrophe or moments of salvation.
2 Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.
Indie all the way. Writing is something I do between family and work as a means of relaxing and having a creative outlet. I fear any effort to try and acquire a publisher would make this feel like a job. I’ve had a lot of fun with making my work available for pay-as-you-will sites like NoiseTrade and OpenBooks and engaging with the community has been really insightful. Taking this all into consideration, self-publishing just feels right.
3 Your book’s unifying themes are guns, gods, and robots. What appeals to you about each of these topics?
I think that these three things have the potential to do a great amount of good or a great amount of harm. People can see all three things as incredibly scary or liberating based on their life experiences. The characters in my stories all have tough choices to make involving them.
In selecting the stories to include in this collection, I started seeing these common objects present in many of the stories. So much so, that I created a spreadsheet to map out which themes were in which story. I ended up using this grid to sequence this collection so that, if read cover to cover, the experience would be varied.
4 What’s a favorite sci-fi book and why?
True to my love for short work, it’s The Jaunt by Stephen King. I read this when I was too young to read it and it still scares me. Without saying too much it’s about teleportation. I’m worried that if I read it again as an adult it won’t be as terrifying.
Brad Pitt’s production company recently acquired the rights to this and I worry about making a full length movie out of what is a very compact short story.
I’ve read some terrific sci-fi over the years, but this short piece still gnaws at me decades after reading it once.
5 What makes a great sentence?
A great sentence for me is something with just enough alliteration to be fun without it sounding intentional. I’m a pretty pulpy writer and I like to be direct and succinct, but if I’ll always look for some ways to have fun with the way the sentences read aloud.
6 What are your top five overused words?
This changes every time I catch myself overusing a word, but lately my top five are:
Many from this list are simply the result of using too much passive voice or being unable to find a stronger synonym.
7 How and when did you first know you were a writer?
I used to like to write a lot in school, but as my priorities shifted as I entered the working world, I lost touch with my desire to tell stories. Recently at my parents’ house I found an old story I wrote in 2nd or 3rd It was accepted into Cricket children’s magazine for their Halloween story edition which was surprising given its content. It was about a brother and sister being pursued by a maniac through the woods. Suppose I could dig that one up and include it in the next story collection.
More about Brady:
Needing an activity to rebalance his mindset between work and home, Brady Koch started using his 45 minute train commute to start writing science fiction and horror stories. Brady started taking these new works to local library writing groups and then to online retailers. Leveraging the welcome feedback from these new readers, he has continued writing novellas, and shorter works resulting in his first published collection of stories: Guns, Gods & Robots. A Florida native, Brady now lives outside of New York City with his wife and children.
More about his book:
Guns: A girl’s birthday wish comes true when she gets to spend an afternoon on manhunt with her lawman father.
Gods: An old man discovers his crops aren’t the only dead things on his farm.
Robots: A heartless machine built for compassion malfunctions, leading its engineer on a hunt to fix the corruption before it spreads.
In Guns, Gods & Robots, Brady Koch, mixes and remixes three themes across this collection of stories and novellas that spans the range of science fiction and horror. The stories, collected here for the first time, range from the uplifting to the horrifying. Sure to spark your imagination, the seven stories in Guns, Gods & Robots will also keep you up at night.
Many thanks to Brady for sitting in the hot seat for Seven Questions.