Outdoorsman and philanthropist, Brett Champan is also a best-selling author of books that blend nature, reflections, history, spirituality, life and love. Each of his works promote the wonders that lie out of doors and being from Wisconsin, there is no doubt that Brett has personally experienced his share of nature’s bounty. The amazing thing is that while his work keeps him inside, he is able to capture the vivid landscape of his home state in all of his works.
Though he is a busy career professional and prolific writer, he was still able to make time to share with us a little about his love of the craft and give us a glimpse inside his works. Take it away, Brett.
You’re an author, but is it your day job? Writing is not my day job. I have a degree in accounting and that has been my primary bread-maker over the years. I’ve often said that I would not want to live off my writing for fear that it could dilute my passion for the craft. Writing has always been a refuge for me, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Did you always want to be an author? In some respects, yes. Writing has been a part of me since a young age, and in 4th grade I recall picking up a thick novel from the small bookshelf in the back of the classroom and saying to myself, “One day, I’m going to write one of these.”
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? Ride With Me—A Novel is my not-so-late latest release (2016). The main character, Earl Timmings, was taken from my first novel, Rearview Sunset. In that story, Earl was an older, winsome man nearing the end of his days who came alongside the younger main character to help guide his path. Readers enjoyed Earl and therefore I decided to go deeper into his life in Ride With Me—how he met his true love, his journey through WWII and the years to follow.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? The books have been described as uplifting in form and substance yet not always ending ‘happily ever after’. There are storms in life and sometimes things do not go as we had hoped—but storms always pass. Sometimes we need to endure and embrace the unexpected, challenging realities in life, if we are to grow and find true, lasting joy.
How did writing a book help your career take off? My first book garnered some favorable reviews and provided credibility as a writer/author, opening doors along the way. It was a domino effect in which one store gave me a chance after reading a positive review from the local bookstore, which in turn opened up another opportunity, and so forth.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? I’m going to leave this one to Seth Godin. He wrote a short blog years ago titled ‘Advice for Authors’ that I found very practical and influential. The blog is old, but seemingly timeless. Not quitting the day job, lowering your expectations, and understanding that publishing has a business side are among the nuggets of wisdom offered.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism? I’ve had some encouraging reviews and some not so encouraging reviews over the years. I take it with a grain of salt. I do weigh the negative responses to see if it is just a matter of preference and perspective or something I ought to take to heart. I recall a scene from the miniseries ‘John Adams’ in which his wife is reading to him a scathing article about him in the newspaper. As she is reading and becoming more and more upset by the words, he is leaning back in his chair, relaxed and unfettered. I think in some ways this is how we ought to react to criticism.
How do you structure your day and make time for writing? I’ve always done my best writing in the early morning or later at night. For me it’s the two times of the day that are most free of distraction.
Anything else you’d like to share? The journey is different for everyone. Check your motives and remind yourself frequently that there are millions of books on Amazon, and millions more coming each year. Perhaps place more emphasis and weight on being a writer versus an author. As Gandalf would say, we are only little fellows in a wide world after all.
Meet Brett and get your copy of his books at www.brettchampan.com.