Interview: Thornton Brothers

Tell us a little about yourself and
your background? 
We’re a writing team of brothers (Chris & Jay) who have been
at this for a while. We started as kids making comic books and writing stories
(as we jaunted around the world as military brats), then moved on to
screenwriting as adults. We did well in some contests, landed a manager (Rosa
Entertainment) and an agent (currently UTA) and got a couple paid gigs,
including a dark suspense thriller for Zac Efron based off of a pitch of ours,
a contained thriller for Italian genre directors the Manetti Bros, and an
adaptation of a Robert E. Howard western novella for Paradox Entertainment. The
Weinstein Company just optioned a TV show we created and we’re about to start
packaging talent. Despite the successes we’ve had in the film industry, it
comes with a lot of headaches and glacial delays and we’re in that weird place
where none of our stuff has been produced yet, so we don’t have an answer for
the ubiquitous “Oh yeah? Anything I might have seen?” We decided that the most
direct and purest means available for a storyteller to reach an audience is
prose, to just tell the damn story without resistance or intermediaries. The
new world of self-publishing appealed to us, to cut out the gatekeepers and
naysayers and just put your stuff out there and let it stand on its own accord.
That said, getting your work in front of readers then becomes the big
challenge, which is why we’ve reached out to venues like this one that can help
us be heard. Marketing your self-published work is basically a full-time job,
so there’s always a hurdle for storytellers trying to find their audience. We
really appreciate outlets like this that help connect readers and writers.
Which writers inspire you?
Off the top of our heads (and we’ll surely be kicking ourselves
in retrospect when it comes to exclusions): Cormac McCarthy, John Steinbeck,
Charles Bukowski, Jack London, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, Stephen King, Umberto
Eco, George Palliser, China Miéville, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman… the list goes
on and on. There are tons of filmmakers who serve to inspire us as well. But,
truthfully, the creative urge came from somewhere more fundamental within us
other than by reading the works of others. What truly inspires us to write is
observation of and thematic commentary on the world itself, of human nature, of
nature, science, history. We honestly wish we could read more, but most of our
time is spent writing and trying to market ourselves (something we don’t
relish, but a necessity).
Have you written any other novels in
collaboration with other writers?
As brothers and co-writers, obviously we internally collaborate
on all our own projects, but no, we haven’t worked with other writers on
novels. Coming from a filmmaking world that often suffers from “too many cooks
in the kitchen,” we see that as one of the benefits of writing prose – that it
is less collaborative and more of a raw transmission of thought directly from
writer to reader. It’s why Jodorowsky decided to start making comic books after
all of those years spent filmmaking. The intimacy between creative and reader
intrinsic in prose greatly appeals to us, and though we’re still finding our
audience it’s frankly been a breath of fresh air.
When did you decide to become a
We’ve been creatives for as long as we can remember, and it was
never really a decision for us. It was just what we were. Even before putting
pen to paper, we invented elaborate and epic plotlines with our toys and
reenacted scenes from fairy tales and other sources. We started writing and
drawing comic books and playing role-playing games before our teenage years,
and never stopped creating — now we focus on screenwriting (and filmmaking) and
prose, though we do have some poetry collections and potential graphic novels
in us as well. We just love the written word, and the power of a well rendered
sentence to transport, inform, and inspire.
Do you write full-time or part-time? 
Currently, we write full-time. Unfortunately, this sometimes
puts us in “starving artist” territory but hopefully that will change with time
as we build more of a fan base.
Do you work to an outline or plot or
do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? 
We generally always outline, but how much varies from project to
project. For Hollywood stuff it usually requires a good amount of outlining to
build confidence between the others involved (directors, producers, etc.). For
our own works, it sometimes is just a series of conversations to generate and
crystallize ideas that may or may not make it into the story. REAPERS is like
this; we have a document with a jumbled collection of ideas and discards, and a
Wiki to track stuff that has been made part of canon once it’s put into the
book. That said, while we think outlining and having an idea or game plan is
crucial, we do find that we will veer off of outline as organic opportunities that
ring true to the characters present themselves. Writing is a lot like
prizefighting: you go in with a game plan, but the best are also able to
improvise in the moment when they see an opening.
Do you have a strategy for finding
So far we’ve only just started reaching out to reviewers and
bloggers. A handful of friends and family have provided reviews but we are wary
of fatiguing loved ones by pestering them with requests, and we don’t want to
burden them. We would prefer to earn legitimate, objective reviews than appeal
to those in our circle who already champion us. At the end of our book we do
ask readers to submit a review on Amazon (or Goodreads or wherever) but it’s
too early to tell if that is bearing any fruit.
What are your thoughts on good/bad
The most important thing to us is that the review is honest. A
negative review would sting, but we also realize this is all subjective (one
viewpoint and writer’s tool a career in Hollywood has certainly equipped us
with) and our material is probably not for everyone. So far, we’ve been lucky
with the feedback on REAPERS as it’s been very positive – but we’ve definitely
felt the burn of less-than-gushing comments and development notes on some of
our other works (especially in Hollywood). We just try to learn from it and let
it help us improve. At this point though, we believe the trick is to create
work that is true to your own voice, and something you yourself would want to
read or watch. There’s definitely truth to the old notion that “If you try to
please everyone, you usually please no one.” We’d be more than content to find
a small but passionate fan base — though of course we want as many people as
possible to “get” and appreciate our work.
How can readers discover more about
you and you work?
They can visit our website at There are links to
our other social media on there, as well as a page dedicated to REAPERS, a
couple of our short films, and some art. They can also sign up for a
newsletter. Our book contains links as well.
Any Comments for the Blog readers?
We just think it’s great that there are people still excited
about books and hungry enough for new voices to follow blogs like yours and
keep their fingers on the pulse of the self-publishing world. There is a LOT of
content swimming around out there, and we really appreciate the time they take
to comb through all the noise to find the hidden gems.
Any feedback for me or the blog?
Just keep doing what you’re doing – we authors really depend on
people like you to help get our stuff out there in order to connect with new
fans. We are truly grateful for your efforts to inform audiences and promote
reading. So, thanks!

One thought on “Interview: Thornton Brothers

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