The Void by Brett J. Talley

By L. Dean Murphy

In the deepest reaches of space, on a ship that no longer exists, six travelers stare into the abyss…and the abyss stares back.

Brett J. Talley thrills us with more. “Man has finally mastered the art of space travel and in a few hours, passengers can travel light years across the galaxy. But there’s a catch—they must sleep during the journey, and with sleep come the dreams. Only the sleepers know what their dreams entail, for each is tailored to his own mind, built from his fears, his secrets, his past…and sometimes his future. On board, they’re forced to face secrets they’ve buried deep beneath the surface, while discovering a dark truth that could change everything they know about their world. Fundamentally, the novel is all about the unknown—the unknown of space and what lurks in the shadows.

“That the dreams occasionally drive men mad is but the price of technological advance. But when a transport on a routine mission comes upon an abandoned ship, missing for more than a decade, six travelers—each with something to hide—discover perhaps the dreams are more than just figments of imagination. Indeed, they may be a window to a reality beyond their own where shadow has substance and the darkness is a thing unto itself, truly worthy of fear.”

According to PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, “Talley follows Stoker finalist THAT WHICH SHOULD NOT BE with another tale of cosmic horror. This tale of aliens preying on humanity stands out from the crowd thanks to the strength of Talley’s prose and creative imagination.”

Bram Stoker Award-winning Jonathan Maberry, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of ASSASSIN’S CODE, said, “With THE VOID, Brett J. Talley guides us out to the vastness of space and deep into the landscape of nightmare. Talley gives us elegant prose that whispers unspeakable horrors. Highly recommended.”

As for the venue of horror, Talley says, “I didn’t choose horror. Horror chose me. I think most people who sit down with pen and paper want to do two things—they want to tell a story that entertains, and say something about the human condition. The purest human emotion is fear. It comes without prejudice and without ulterior motives. It is at the heart of human action, and overcoming it—or at least learning to deal with it, is the greatest challenge we face. There’s nothing I would rather write about.”

Like Stephen King, Talley has been writing since he could hold a pen. “I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was in second grade, I wrote about vampires. I love telling stories, and enjoy being scared. There’s something magnificent about writing. A part of you lives forever in words. A book is more than just a collection of pages and phrases. It is a living, breathing representation of your mind and your soul.”

Talley has advice for aspiring writers. “Never, never, never give up. Writing is one rejection after another. It takes No a hundred times before you get a Yes, but it only takes that one Yes. And don’t take advice. You have to do it your way.”

As for the mechanics of writing, Talley said, “I usually have a story in mind and then the twists and turns come to me as I write. What amazes me is the way the characters change and develop. That was especially true of some of the characters in THE VOID. Several of them were never supposed to be as important as they became. They simply wouldn’t be silenced. I don’t really outline. I tend to write a paragraph about my idea for the book and then dive right in. I like to sketch out an entire backstory for my characters. Even if most of it is never told, knowing about it helps to give the characters depth and make them seem more real. Does it work? I think so.”

Talley normally writes straight through, but added, “Sometimes a scene is so compelling I need to go ahead and do it immediately. It’s always interesting how these things develop. And writing is rewriting. I’m sometimes horrified at how bad the first draft can be. It seems all good writing is bad writing that has been rewritten.”

A single word helped with his career. “Stubbornness. It takes a very hard head to make it in the writing world. You have to make yourself finish what you start, and you have to believe in yourself no matter how many times you hear rejection.”

There’s no rejection in Talley’s near future. “I’m currently working on a shared world novel with some terrific writers—Joseph Nassise, Jonathan Maberry, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, and Anne C. Petty. It should come out at the end of the year or in early 2013.”

Talley prefers standalones. “Don’t get me wrong—I love my characters. But the process of creating new worlds is intoxicating. I think you lose some of that in a series.”

When asked about research, Talley said, “Well, my first book was set in the past and THE VOID is set in the future, so research is key. The hardest part was trying to keep the science as plausible as possible, particularly when so many things remain up for grabs. We don’t really know what would happen if you try and pass through a black hole, so describing it accurately is somewhat difficult.”

As for eBooks versus Tree-Books, Talley said, “I’ll always be in love with a book I can hold in my hand. The feel of the binding, the smell of paper, the sound when you open a book for the first time—you can’t beat it. But, like everyone, I am a sucker for convenience. That’s what eBooks offer, and I can’t complain about that.”

Parting words: “I continue to believe the greatest stories do not spring, fully formed, from the brains of authors, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Rather, they grow over time, starting as the kernel of an idea, an odd tale whispered around the fireside in the dark watches of the night. From that comes thousands of different tales told by different authors. The writer is as much a hunter as he is a creator, capturing those archetypes that rumble through our culture and taming them to his own ends. Those of us in horror happen to hunt in the dark places of the world, but the truly great story isn’t horror, romance, or literary fiction. It draws from many wells.”

*****

A native of the South, Brett Talley received philosophy and history degrees from the University of Alabama before moving to witch-haunted Massachusetts to attend Harvard Law School. Brett tells people he writes for fortune and glory, but the truth is the stories in his head simply refuse to stay put. Brett loves every kind of fiction, as long as there are fantastic characters with compelling purpose. He adds, “There’s still magic to be found in fiction, the mysterious and the unknown still beckon, and light can always triumph over darkness, no matter how black the night may be.”

To learn more about Brett, visit his website.

Dean Murphy

L. Dean Murphy interviews authors and reviews books for Bookreporter.com & The Big Thrill. The MWA, FWA and ITW member is working on, The Art of Murder, and Two Bodies. His maxim is "When there’s nothing left, write."

Visit him at: www.DeanMurphy.net.

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