20 Minutes with Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Brian Thomas Schmidt
Brian Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt has lived life wide and tall and true. He has pursued so many forms of storytelling – from film to music to writing – that his combination of life experience and craft provide a unique and informed insight into the entire process. His passion, enthusiasm, and witty repartee made this 20(ish) minutes fly by as we explored his transition into writing, his process, and his perspective on SpecFic, and more! (and check out Bryan’s Workshop Episode too!)

PROMO: Protecting Project Pulp podcast

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Bryan Thomas Schmidt

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

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Episode Breakdown

01:00 – Bryan’s Awesome Intro


06:30 – Around 2008, it seems like something changed that made you focus on writing… could you describe what that was?

  • 07:10 – I attended film school and was in the business for a while, but I was getting feedback that I was being to cliché and conventional
  • 07:40 – So I left to travel and live some life
  • 08:00 – Around 2003, I tried to get back into film, but I was getting too old for that stuff
  • 08:30 – I’d had the idea for the “Worker Prince” since I was 15 (I thought “How hard can it be”) (Ha!)
  • 09:05 – I took another year off to learn my craft
  • 09:10 – I enjoyed storytelling again, there were so many stories to tell


09:30 – How do you get past being “cliché and conventional”?

  • 10:05 – I think you go through different phases of it
  • 10:30 – When talking to each other, we use clichés all the time, but put it on a page it’s different
  • 10:50 – You have to have your own unique voice and if your using clichés, it’s not unique
  • 11:05 – A lot of it was just not reaching deep enough into the story
  • 11:50 – You want to examine a story from all angles so you can write something that’s unexpected
  • 11:55 – The cool part is that eventually you get to the point that you can surprise yourself


13:05 – Do you find that you ever get swept up in a plot thread? Where do you put on the breaks and get back and revisit the other elements of the story?

  • 13:35 – When I know the answer to that, I’ll let you know
  • 13:45 – I’m working on book three and it’s SO complicated!
  • 14:30 – I poured a lot of the emotional turmoil I was going through in my life on to the pages of book two
  • 15:20 – I received a lot of criticism regarding character motivations and whatnot in book two
  • 15:45 – Some of that was intentional, but some of it was getting caught up in one aspect and neglecting the others
  • 15:55 – So basically I learned as I went
  • 16:40 – You can’t just do a data dump… you gotta work it into your story and characters


17:40 – PROMO: Protecting Project Pulp podcast


19:20 – What aspect of your stories do you enjoy working on the most?

  • 19:40 – I really like working in the comedy banter and the action
  • 20:05 – I sometimes I get caught up in dialog and neglect the character’s inner story
  • 20:40 – My first draft is thinner that the last draft
  • 21:20 – With “Worker Prince” I did multiple drafts to address different aspects of my craft
  • 21:30 – Now I incorporate much of that into my first draft because I think of it as one unit
  • 21:35 – You internalize stuff as you learn it, so your process evolves over time


22:25 – As an author for whom faith plays such a large part of your life, what is it about scifi that’s so ideal for the stories you want to tell

  • 23:35 – I don’t consider myself a religious person… it’s my world view
  • 23:50 – It’s more challenging for me to write about a person who doesn’t examine the world through their faith
  • 24:15 – I haven’t run into a culture that doesn’t have some kind of organized faith
  • 24:25 – It’s inherent to the world we live in that we’ve discovered a universe that’s so much bigger than we understand
  • 24:50 – I think it lends itself to asking those bigger questions
  • 25:15 – If you write a world WITHOUT faith, it seems less realistic
  • 24:45 – I’m particularly given to wonder… so SpecFic feeds my sense of wonder and “What if…?”
  • 26:15 – Also, there’s an aspect of mythology that I find fascinating
  • 27:25 – And there’s the fact that I hate research and I’m lazy… if I just a make it up then I don’t have do that


27:45 – Kids seem to have a challenge separating fiction from historical fact… how do you approach an iconic historic figure in a fictional setting

  • 29:20 – With “Abe Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter” we wanted to try and find something that would appeal to young boys
  • 29:45 – Abe Lincoln is one of my heroes, so I thought “Let’s do Young Abe”
  • 30:40 – I did actual research because I wanted it to be grounded in history
  • 31:30 – It’s all pretty tongue in cheek… I think people will be able to spot the difference between the history and the fantastical

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Comments (4)

Getting caught up on the podcasts now that NaNoWriMo is over. This one was really good. I especially liked the banter, the discussion about faith and how that relates to storytelling, and what appeals to boys in fictional settings. I have two sons myself who I homeschool and getting them excited about literature is a priority of mine. They are 13 and almost 16, and it was the thrill of my life when my older son decided he wanted to complete a novel-writing course as part of his English for this year. Keep up the good work!

Thanks, Alisa! This was a fun interview… Bryan has such a broad range of experience and a unique perspective on the craft. I’m glad we could touch on some topics that were useful to you.

And (as you might imagine) we’re delighted to hear your 16 year-old wants to pursue writing! It is a pursuit that will open up worlds of awareness and insight for him, either as a pastime or a profession. What more could a parent hope for, right? 😉

I’ve never known 20(ish) minutes to drag well past thirty! Haha but I don’t mind! Great content gentlemen!

I know, right? Between Bryan, Brion, and myself, we were all a bunch of windbags. 😉 Glad it still provided some good stuff for you!

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