20 Minutes with Brand Gamblin

Brand Gamblin
Brand Gamblin

Brand Gamblin is a storyteller who aggressively pursues the evolution of his craft, striving always to push the limits of his ability and expand his comfort zone. His works to date include Science Fiction, Steampunk, Alternate Future (see? He’s making this stuff up, people!) and Science Fantasy (see?). He’s also possessed of a dark humor as evidenced by his wildly successful “Calls for Cthulu” video series. We spent a fabulous 20(ish) minutes with this marvelous weaver of tales discussing his transition from programmer to writer, and from outliner to pantser… we even dig into what Spec Fic really means. There’s writerly goodness behind that PLAY button, friends… click it! (and check out Brand’s Workshop Episode, too!)

PROMO: The Dunesteef Podcast

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Brand Gamblin

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

Check out this and all our episodes on iTunes and on Stitcher Radio!

Episode Breakdown

00:40 – Brand’s Fabulous Intro

05:25 – Could you describe what you need to do to transition from software developer to author?

  • 06:25 – When I was growing up, I saw writers as being on some higher plane. They were the cool ones and we were the workers
  • 06:45 – You could write a letter, but you couldn’t write a novel
  • 07:00 – I heard about NaNoWriMo and I decided to commit to it (but I knew I was NOT a writer)
  • 07:45 – At the end of the month, I decided I had a body of work so I edited it and discovered how hard it was to find an agent
  • 08:45 – I had heard of Podiobooks.com, it took effort and time but no money. So I podcast it
  • 09:20 – I deliberately didn’t tell any of the Calls for Cthulu fans (because there is no fan like a Cthulu Cultist, lemme tell ya)
  • 10:10 – I wanted to see how it would do as its own property
  • 10:25 – I through that I got to meet some amazing people… and they were all selling books
  • 11:10 – As soon as the sales started to pay for my car, I realized this was something to take seriously
  • 11:20 – As Nathan Lowell says, “The single greatest thing you can do to promote a book is write another one”
  • 12:20 – When you consider the only cost is the time you put in, that’s amazing


12:50 – Do you think that the success you’ve had in any way affects the way you write or the quality of your writing?

  • 13:00 – I try to do something different every time I write
  • 13:10 – When I started out, I did everything with an outline (very specifically)
  • 14:05 – Now I’m trying being a pantser (it’s going well, I thought I would crash and burn)
  • 14:40 – If I had tried that on the first book, I’d have been paralyzed with fear


15:40 – You recently chastised yourself, saying “You shouldn’t be letting a good story be a dodge for writing les that you could.” Could you expand on that?

  • 16:05 – When I wrote “Discount Miracles” I knew exactly how it was going to go
  • 16:25 – When it was done (70K words), I told the whole story
  • 16:50 – But with every single scene I knew where it was going to go, so the characters went there
  • 17:05 – It’s a bit like clockwork, like the characters don’t need to be there (they were serving the plot)


17:40 – PROMO: The Dunesteef Podcast


  • 18:55 – When I started writing “Invito Rex” I’m gonna throw in a couple guys who just walk through making color commentary
  • 19:40 – I had no plan and I’m already at 50K words in 41 days
  • 21:25 – I think the outline was necessary, then I needed to discover the outline was becoming restrictive
  • 21:50 – I have no idea what I’m doing now… but there’s some explosions and that’s awesome!
  • 22:05 – I recommend that every time you write something, find out what you didn’t do before and do something different on the next one


24:50 – If you had known that 1884 wouldn’t be printed, would that have stopped you from writing it?

  • 25:05 – At the time, yeah… I think it would have. But I’m really glad I did (I just love having it)


25:50 – What is it about the Spec Fic vibe that makes it so perfect for the stories you want to tell?

  • 26:25 – That’s the stuff I read, the movies I watch… I don’t consume a lot of media that isn’t from “another world”
  • 26:50 – If I had to write a straight up (literary fiction) story, that would be a real chore
  • 27:10 – I don’t feel like there’s a hook
  • 28:05 – I would have to find a story I was passionate about
  • 28:15 – The stories I write are spawned by “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and that’s not literary fiction


28:35 – But “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” doesn’t make a good story.  What’s the next step?

  • 29:40 – A story is linearly moving through time and you need people to be moving it
  • 29:45 – The story is who are these people and how are they moving through it?

Related Posts

Comments (6)

I am very excited to hear Brand Gamblin workshop next week. When he talks about his own work it’s all “Socioeconomic Political ramifications of caste systems where energy or knowledge are commodities…” but when you read (or listen) to his books it’s “Playing Polo on Polar Bears”

Best. Comment. Ever. 😀

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind reading that Orwell/Steampunk novel. 🙂

As always, guys, your introductions are top notch. I like how Brand characterized it.

Thanks Paul! The “Roundtable Intro” was not initially a “thing” for the show… I think it started with Christof Laputka that we realized the authors’ personal stories are as epic as the stories they write. We just want to make sure our listener’s feel the same “wow” factor we do about having these remarkable individuals on the show. 🙂

This episode was not fair. 20 Minutes was clearly not enough. You guys have to do at least 60 minutes. Please bring him back soon!!

Keep up the great work guys.

Thanks, Danny! I know, right? It never seems like there’s enough time to explore all the awesomeness these creators have to offer. Hopefully it’s just enough to give everyone a new awareness of how to pursue the craft.

We appreciate the affirmation, sir… we’ll do our best to keep the standards high 😉

Comments are closed.