Straight Outta Tombstone…
Naomi Brett Rourke is the pen name for the author, teacher, and theatre director living in near the beach with her husband Tim. She has three children, three step-children, seven grandchildren, three cats, a dog, and a tortoise. When not writing, she can be found with a book in her hand, very often reading two or three at a time, with murder mysteries and horror being her favorites. With degrees in both English and Theatre Arts, Naomi has directed over 25 full stage productions including works by Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, Thornton Wilder, and William Shakespeare, and musicals such as FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, ZOMBIE PROM, and THE BOYFRIEND.
Naomi took her pseudonym from the women in her life who made her who she is today, with gratitude and love: Naomi is the name her birth mother was going to call her if she didn’t have to give her up for adoption; Brett is the maiden name of her Liverpudlian adoptive grandmother who read to her constantly from the time she was born; and Rourke is the maiden name of her adoptive mother who transferred her love of books to her daughter.
As an author, Naomi has stories published in magazines such as London’s MORPHEUS TALES, THE MATURE YEARS, the Young Adult journal REFRACTIONS, the online magazines www.TriggerWarningShortStories.com and Cultured Vultures, and more. She has stories in multiple anthologies, including the highly anticipated Native American anthology LIFE ON THE REZ, Michigan’s BREWED AWAKENINGS 2, ENTER THE APOCALYPSE, and DISTRESSING DAMSELS, to name a few.
On July 4, 2017, Naomi’s story, “Coyote” came out in the Weird West anthology STRAIGHT OUTTA TOMBSTONE, alongside the likes of Kevin J. Anderson, Maurice Broaddus, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt, Sam Knight, Jodi Lynn Nye, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Michael A. Stackpole, David Lee Summers, Robert E. Vardeman, Peter J Wacks, and edited by David Boop for Baen Books. Shortly afterword, the anthology became a best seller, and in September 2018, it will be in bookstores as a mass-market paperback — pocketsize, all y’all.
Naomi’s short film, EVIL TWIN, was on CRYPTTV. She is looking for an agent to rep her first book, a detective story reminiscent of the likes of Janet Evanovich or Sue Grafton is currently working on book two of her detective trilogy, writing more short stories, and has a finished full-length screenplay. She likes to multitask. – Naomi Brett Rourke
What is your writing Kryptonite? – Procrastination is my absolute Kryptonite. Sometimes I will find anything to do so as not to write. Making lists, cleaning out my closet, shopping online (bad), reading (good), and doing puzzles. Just not housework. I hate housework.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?– I haven’t gone on any solely literary pilgrimages, but I love going places that have a literary history. I love the UK and Ireland because they value their writers and you can see bronze signs all over the place about this writer lived here and that writer lived there. I took a trip to Ireland to see castles and to London to see the West End and plays. England is great because you can see Bath, famous in Jane Austin novels, Whitechapel for Jack the Ripper, and go any number of tours from Harry Potter to Shakespeare to Sherlock. You can go on a tour of W.B. Yeats’s land in Ireland. I loved Stratford-upon-Avon for Shakespeare; in Scotland, all the places of the historical heroes like The Bruce and William Wallace. Vikings! Vikings in York. I would love to go to Greece to see where Greek mythology was born and Salem, MA to walk the streets of the Witch Trials. One of my other bucket list trips is Wales and England again to see all the places that are associated with King Arthur and Merlin, famous in all sorts of mythology and modern literature.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?– I think it depends on the novels and stories whether they should stand on their own or be connected. For instance, I wrote a series of horror fairy tales and naturally they one day will be together in a collection. The novel I’m working on right now is the second of a trilogy or a series; my horror novel is a stand-alone. I wonder if Stephen King knew he would one day write a sequel to The Shining. I don’t think there’s anything in that novel to hint at that. Maybe it came as a big surprise or maybe he planned it. If I ever meet him, I’ll ask him. J
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? – If I could tell my younger self about writing, I would say “don’t give up, don’t take to heart one person’s criticism of your work, and don’t wait until you’re in your 50s to start again. When I was in college, I had a poetry class. The teacher was this self-appointed “cool” poet who wore ascots and wrote poetry about sex and read it in the class as the best examples he could find. Ugh. Now I look back on it and see him for what he really was, but in those days, I was intimidated by him. He once told me my work was schizophrenic. I stopped writing and didn’t start again until many years later. What a waste.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?– I read when I was very, very young. I was raiding my mother’s bookcase when I was still in elementary school. When the other girls were reading Nancy Drew, I was reading Nancy Drew and The Godfather, and anything else I could get my hands on. Books let me travel to faraway places, experience events and emotions that I never would in my Southern California suburb. My mother was a great reader and she had myriad of books from non-fiction about John F. Kennedy and beauty to the latest New York Times bestsellers to the romantic thrillers of Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney. I devoured them all. Multiple times. Even now, when I get a little nostalgic, I get out The Crystal Cave or Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart or Columbella or Window on the Square by Phyllis A. Whitney, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury…they’re my literary comfort food much like cinnamon toast.
The second thing that told me that language had power was when I was in college. My father hardly ever praised me. He loved me; he just wasn’t too lavish with his praise and he hated the fact that I was taking Theatre Arts instead of something useful like Computer Science. I had been in several plays and he made it a point never to go.
One day, however, I was doing “The Shadow Box” by Michael Cristofer. I was playing Beverly, an alcoholic ex-wife who still loves her dying ex-husband, even though he’s with his gay partner. That was probably one of the best things I had ever done but I felt sad because neither of my parents had seen it.
After the play, my father walked up. He had been standing in the back of the theatre and he was crying. He was so moved by the play (and my acting, of course, J). This man, who scorned theatre in general, was weeping over this made up story. I was amazed. Language has the power to make us feel, to allow us to emphasize, to care, and most of all, to be better people. This is why I’m so sad that young people today don’t read as much. If they would read To Kill a Mockingbird or Sophie’s Choice instead of playing violent video games occasionally, they’d be more empathetic people. My high school students are very proud of the fact that they don’t read. A friend asked me just recently about the “cult” of the ignorant that we’re seeing more and more. When certain celebrities brag that they don’t read or that they know everything and don’t need education – or more education – it’s a disservice to their fans. Everyone should read. Everyone should be curious. It’s amazing how ignorant people have become in the past few decades. Not because they don’t have access to information but because they choose to be ignorant by not gaining access to the information that’s right at their fingertips. Or people choose to listen to other people or news without checking sources. I’m talking about the false information found on the internet and some of the newscasts. Where once upon a time people would crave knowledge, now they just are on social media for hours at a time. Do I dislike social media or news? No, of course not. But everything has its time and place. Sorry, I’m on my soapbox here but I just find that the average state of students’ – and parents’ — knowledge has gone downhill so dramatically that it’s alarming. People who don’t read will be at the mercy of people who know how to use language. Nonreaders will not have to tools to make qualified judgments and to protect themselves against those who want to exploit that issue. Politicians know this very well. So do despots.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? – I currently have one short story, three novels, and one screenplay, but the ideas in my head are endless.
What does literary success look like to you? – I would like to be a full-time writer. I don’t necessarily have to make a million dollars – not that it wouldn’t be nice – but I just want to entertain people with my stories. I constantly tell my husband that I want to be the next female Castle. JK 😉 (not really) My husband wants me to work so he can retire and “live life in the manner to which he will be accustomed to.” *sigh* Always working.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good Ones?. I’m not that concerned with bad reviews. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Sometimes I find something useful; sometimes not. If I get a troll, I just delete them without reading the whole thing. Who has time for that? Not me.
What did you edit out of this book? I don’t think I edited anything out of this story. I just tightened it. And my editor, David Boop, asked for more edits. I tend to be wordy and to “tell not show.” I must be careful to edit my work so as to get as many of my bad habits out before anything goes in. I’m getting better. *cough cough* (Monty Python reference)
Hear our conversation with Naomi Brett Rourke