Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Brady Hammes

Brady Hammes lives in Los Angeles by way of Colorado and Iowa. His short stories have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, The Rattling Wall, and Harper Perennial’s Forty Stories Anthology. His debut novel The Resolutions is now out from Ballantine/Random House.

He’s also an Emmy-Award winning documentary film editor whose most recent project, Tom vs. Time - about NFL quarterback Tom Brady - won a 2018 Sports Emmy. Before that, he edited the feature film Social Animals, which had its world premiere at the 2018 SXSW film festival.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title works on a couple different levels. All three of the my characters have run their lives into the ground and are now forced to correct their crooked paths. So in a way, they’re all resolving to do better, though the mechanics of that process elude them for most of the book. The novel is also set around the holidays, with the final scene taking place on New Year’s Day, so the idea of a resolution seemed sort of fitting. The title actually came late in the process. When I sold the book it was called The Bygones, and it wasn’t until about a year before publication that we arrived at this new title.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

Very. I was not a particularly bookish kid, so I don’t think my teenage self would have even considered that I might someday write a novel. I came to fiction fairly late - I didn’t really start until I was about 30 - so this isn’t something I’ve been working toward since I was a kid.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Endings are harder for me. With The Resolutions, the ending didn’t change too drastically - at the least the very last scene - though the entire third act of the novel went through many different iterations. I always knew how the book would end, but the circumstances leading up to the end were less clear.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pull from my own life. But that doesn’t mean my characters are autobiographical. One of my characters is a ballerina and one is a research scientist, and I can assure you I’ve never danced on stage and I’m terrible at science. A lot of research went into those parts of the book, but the underlying feelings of loneliness and career stagnation are things I can relate to. I think Ann Patchett once said something to the effect of, “None of it happened, but all of it’s true.”

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Everything from my Midwestern youth to neo-classical music to my travels throughout the world. This book was written over a long period of time starting when I was much younger, and in a different place in my life. Although the concerns of the book aren’t ones that are as relevant to me now, I still think the book stands a good reminder of a specific period in my life, and hopefully one that others can relate to as well.
Visit Brady Hammes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue