SG Browne’s new novel, BIG EGOS, just came out last week, and he answered a few of my questions about it, and more! Please welcome him back to the blog!
Big Egos, your brand new book, has already gotten some great buzz! Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?
Big Egos is a dark comedy about a designer drug that allows you to become a fictional character or a dead celebrity / historical figure for 6-8 hours. It takes role-playing to the next level and wraps it up in some social commentary about the celebrity culture. Ultimately, it’s about discovering the role you’re supposed to play and what happens to your identity when you’re constantly pretending to be someone you’re not.
Big Egos started out as a short story, one I penned back in 1997 called “Designer Brains.” What inspired me to write that short story, I can’t remember. I’m sure it was something. But what inspired Big Egos, other than the short story, were books like Slaughterhouse-Five and American Psycho and my wanting to write a non-linear story with an unreliable narrator who gradually loses his grip on reality.
What genre do you think Big Egos would best fit into?
While it’s set in the not-too-distant future, I suppose it could be considered science fiction or perhaps speculative fiction. But like my other novels, at its core, I consider Big Egos to be social satire.
Who would you try on for size if you could?
Do I have to pick just one? No? Okay, then I’d try on John Lennon, Vincent van Gogh, and William Shakespeare. And if we’re talking fictional egos, I’d give Indiana Jones a whirl.
What did you enjoy most about writing Big Egos, and what would you like to see readers take away from it?
I had a lot of fun writing the chapters that are told from the POV of a fictional character or dead celebrity and incorporating dozens of other celebrity or fictional Egos into the scenes. There are seven of them and each one has its own theme, including private detectives, literary characters, and dead rock stars. While I had to do a bit or research and rewrites, it was well worth it.
As for what I’d like to see readers take away from Big Egos? One thing I’ve learned is that writing, like any art, is subjective and that my intention and the audience’s interpretation of what I’ve written are likely to vary. So rather than any one specific thing, I hope readers take away something that affects them on a personal level, hopefully in a positive way, whatever that may be.
What would make you put a book aside, unfinished?
Stiff prose and a storyline I’ve read before that doesn’t offer anything new.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk. I’d never read Palahniuk before and picked up Lullaby at my local bookstore in the fall of 2002 before going on vacation. At the time I’d reached a point where I didn’t enjoy what I was writing and had actually stopped writing for several months. Over the previous ten years I’d written three novels (unpublished) and about forty short stories that were predominantly supernatural horror, with a smattering of darkly comedic shorts. But I remember opening Lullaby on the plane and reading the Prologue, then immediately re-reading it and feeling as if a light switch had been turned on and for the first time in months, I could see where I wanted to go with my writing.
Lullaby inspired me to take my darkly comedic short story, “A Zombie’s Lament,” and turn it into Breathers, which became my first published novel. But more than that, Lullaby allowed me to discover what type of writer I was supposed to be. In a way, you could say it helped me to find my role. And that’s not something you usually get to experience a second time.
What’s next for you, this year and beyond?
Currently I’m working on my fifth novel, my own take on superheroes, titled Super Duper. After that, I’ve got a couple of screenplays I keep meaning to finish, along with a novella-length fairy tale I’ve been working on that could end up being the first in a trilogy. Then I have ideas for sequels to my novels Fated and Lucky Bastard, as well as a couple of ideas for new stand-alones rattling around inside my head. While I have no idea which one I’m going to write first, hopefully I’ll figure it out when I get there.
About BIG EGOS:
Does your lifestyle not fit the person inside you? Then try someone else on for size!
Call him whatever. Call him whomever. He can be any legally authorized fictional character or dead celebrity he wants for six to eight hours, simply by injecting a DNA-laced cocktail into his brain stem. It’s called Big Egos and it’s the ultimate role-playing fantasy from Engineering Genetics Organization and Systems (aka EGOS.) And, as one of the quality controllers for EGOS, he’s the ultimate ego-tripper, taking on more artificial identities than advisable—and having a hell of a time doing it. Problem is, he’s starting to lose the ability to separate fact from fiction. His every fantasy is the new reality. And the more roles he plays, the less of him remains. Sure, it’s dangerous. Yes, he’s probably losing his mind. Okay, hundreds of others could be at risk. But sometimes who you are isn’t good enough. And the truth is, reality is so overrated. . .