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Nuclear Writing: An Interview with Peter Hayes Brothers

Nuclear Writing: An Interview with Peter Hayes Brothers

Scified2020-01-31 17:51:23
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Author of a few publications, learn how Peter Hayes Brothers wrote his books and the insight he has to offer.


Suppose we start with the introduction phase. What was your exposure to Godzilla? How did you become a fan?

Peter H. Brothers:

It all started--as it has with many Boomers--when I first saw the 1956, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!," on my parent's TV in 1960. I was seven years old, and even though I had a vague idea of what a movie was, this was unlike any I had ever seen before. It was like a documentary filmed in real time. I was hooked, and I'm happy to say I've been hooked ever since. The movie initiated my interest in Godzilla, in dinosaurs (I initially considered becoming a paleontologist), kaiju filmmaking, Japanese culture, and the movies made by Ishiro Honda.

What made you decide to write Atomic Dreams and the Nuclear Nightmare: The Making of Godzilla 1954? 

For the same reason George Lucas made Star Wars: because nobody else was doing it. Frankly, I was astounded that none had ever been written (a large volume on the making of the movie had been published by Toho several years earlier), and given my love for the film and the message behind it, I felt that writing it was one way to express my debt of gratitude to the filmmakers by explaining why it was such a magnificent movie: I figured that--if anyone was going to take responsibility for writing the first American book on Gojira and stick their neck out--it may as well be someone who loved the film as much as life itself.

Could you explain the publishing process of Atomic Dreams and the Nuclear Nightmare? What was that like?

It was a much simpler and pleasant experience than when I attempted to publish my first book--Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men--with a mainstream publisher. I sent the manuscript to six publishers--one of whom held onto it for six months before declining to print it--before deciding to self-publish it. Since then, I have exclusively used Amazon Kindle (formally CreateSpace) for all my books.

There are many more advantages to self-publishing today than years earlier, due to the fact that you, as a writer, have total control over the content, can decide on the price, and can format it however you wish, without having to worry about some editor making unauthorized alterations or telling you what is unacceptable. You can also make changes after the book has been published, since it is "print on demand." The only issue I have with doing it this way, is that I am ultimately responsible for proofing the manuscript and have a difficult time working-out formatting details; definitely not one of my strengths!

True, if one decides to self-publish, it is unlikely their book will ever sit on the shelf of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and you will have to self-promote it and tolerate the negative attitude many people have against self-publishing, but your book will still be found on the internet (through sites such as Google and Amazon), and at the end of the day, it will be the book you want it to be.

Speaking of Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda, you made a second edition of the book. What do you consider was wrong with the first edition?

The first edition was published by a company called, "Author House," but due to an error on their past, they printed a proof and not the final version; as a result it was filled with spelling errors and would have been cost-prohibited to get them to print the corrected version (I had to pay them for each version I sent to them to publish the book, so my first publishing company choice was a bad one (AH has since gone out of business).

I was also bothered by the fact that the book had to be of a certain length and that no pictures could be included, so when I switched to CreateSpace, I was given greater creative freedom, was no longer hindered by space limitations, could amend and enlarge the material, and include photos as well. 

You've also helped writing for Japanese Giants. Could you tell me how that came about and what it was like writing with Ed Godziszewski?

Ed and I collaborated on only one piece: a retrospective on Rodan, and it was a pleasant experience; Ed has done tremendous work for the genre (I should point out that Brad Boyle was the original editor of Japanese Giants). 

You've written for G-Fan magazine as well. Could you plug some of your work? First issue you wrote, how you became involved, etc.

I believe I wrote a letter to J.D. Lees about the first Godzilla film and asked if I could submit an article. He said yes, and my first was, "The Kongs of Tsuburaya," discussing how Eiji Tsuburaya and Willis O'Brien conceptualized King Kong. It was published in issue #48 near the end of 2000. 

Since then, I have written about a dozen articles for G-Fan, mostly on Honda's fantasy films. I have also written two short stories: "If Only I Could See Him," which speculated about what might have happened had reporter Steve Martin and Dr. Serizawa met during the Godzilla/Oxygen Destroyer crisis (it was published in issue #49 in 2001, and is to date was the most-satisfying project I have worked on). The second has just been published: "A Game of Chess," detailing what transpired during the chess game between Commander Carl Nelson and Dr. Who in King Kong Escapes. 

I do not own you latest book, The Sons of Godzilla: From Ridicule to Respect--yet. Could you explain what this book offers and what it's about?

The book--which resulted in my fifth Rondo Award nomination--discusses the Godzilla sequels (with the exception of those directed by Mr. Honda which I covered in my earlier book) marking that amazing time-period when the Ultimate Destroyer became the Ultimate Hero, until returning to its formerly injurious role, which includes some of the most controversial movies the Big G ever appeared in. There are also fascinating photos, intriguing behind-the-scenes stories, facts and figures, and recollections by those who were there, as well as present-day opinions from many kaiju experts and fans.

Got anything else in the pipework?

I am currently working on two book projects: one on the films of Bela Lugosi called, "No Sympathy for the Vampire," which will focus on his screen performances, and the other a collection of horror short stories called, "Dark Detours" (I hope to have them published before the end of this year. There may also be another Godzilla book down the road focusing on the G films produced from 1998 up to the present day).

What kind of research did you have to do with each of your books, and how stressful was it making sure you had correct information?

I obtained as many Japanese books and magazines on the fantasy films I could find, and then had them translated (which wasn't cheap). As far as getting correct information is concerned, it is something I strive for. I rarely use Wikipedia--since apparently anyone can post whatever they feel like on it--so I almost always use printed sources for my information.

I should mention that part of self-promoting my book has involved giving numerous lectures and holding book-signings, the most-gratifying of which took place at the ComicCon during Honda's Centennial in 2011 in San Diego, where, after my talk, a fellow a few years younger than I, came up to me with tears in his eyes and thanked me for writing Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men ("Now I understand" my wife said to me afterwards). That moment made the four years of writing and thousands of dollars of research and translating worthwhile.

A similarly gratifying moment occurred at WonderCon in 2014, where, after my talk, a man came up to me and said, "I love the way you write." It's moments such as those that keep me humble and keeps me going.

I should also mention that the book was going to published in 2009 by Midnight Marquee Press, but due to a falling-out I had with the publisher, I decided to publish it elsewhere.

How do you feel about the reception of your books so far?

Very pleased, but as an independent author, the challenge has been getting the word out. They have sold relatively well, but of course one can never sell too many books! The critical reaction has also been rewarding, as all three of my genre books have received Rondo Award nominations.

What are your thoughts on other directors in the Godzilla franchise? Like Shusuke Kaneko, Hideaki Anno, etc.

Kaneko was very good, as well as Kazuki Ohmori. Jun Fukuda did the best with what he had, and his films remain among the most entertaining of the series.

While Honda is considered by the fans as the absolute best Godzilla director, who do you think came the closest to his work?

I really can't think of any at the moment since his style was so unique, as was his penchant for sentimentality.

Finally, do you have any advice or insight for anyone who may want to publish their own book someday?

Yes: don't let anyone discourage you. Don't ask family, friends, or authors for their advice or opinions about your work, and don't write for fame or money; just write about what interests you, and the result will be your greatest reward. Above all, be your biggest fan, and never stop believing in yourself.

Thank you for your time and allowing this interview, Peter Brothers.

You can follow Peter Brothers on his Facebook here. 

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This article was written By Huge-Ben and published on 2020-01-31 17:51:23

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