Weekly Journal

Introducing Brian Gruber: A coach, author and media entrepreneur 

28th April 2017

From May 3rd – 5th, Brian Gruber, a talented writer, exceptionally skilled interviewer and media entrepreneur, will be joining us at The Content Castle. Through the process of his latest book, he demonstrates that he is a fearless, out-of-the-box writer by using his ingenuity to externally fund the project and his willingness to explore war zones in order to source the answers he desired.

For those who aspire to unravel the inner-workings of a certain person in order to gain research for a story idea, but find that inexperience and nervousness inhibits the possibility of pinpointing the target conversations, this three-day workshop will be a perfect match. With Brian, attendees can throw away all awkward stutters and learn ways in which to smoothly ask the right questions that will uncover the story they want to tell.

His expertise doesn’t end there.

Not only will attendees learn about finding the right story through asking the correct questions, but they will unravel their own story that is hiding in the depths of their mind. Workshop guests will discover how to record their own story in a way that is interesting to both themselves and the public.

Once you’ve finished your self-proclaimed novel, well, where do you go from there?

Today, there are several different mechanisms used for self-publishing and promotion. However, knowing where to start is difficult. It is a good thing we can learn these highly-coveted tactics from a man with over 30 years of experience of working in the media.

Now that you have a better understanding of what you’ll be learning, let’s meet the man behind the books.

During a break in completing “WAR: The Afterparty while living at a Vagabond Temple on the Cambodian Coast. 

Brian, after a successful 30 years in media, you have launched your first two books, Dauphin, Dorian and Dead: The Year Without a Net and WAR: The Afterparty. One, a novel about mid-life romance, and the latter a fresh look at how and why we wage war and whether we achieve the intended mission. Both novels are two disparate styles, projects and themes.

What made you want to start writing books?

I spent my career producing, packaging and marketing other people’s media. I founded two digital media companies which allowed me to do interviewing but wanted to complete my own creative works. And the islands here in the Gulf are great creative playgrounds to think and to write.

What are the stories behind the stories? What inspired your ideas for both Dauphin, Dorian and Dead and WAR: The Afterparty?

The first, “Dauphin,” was based on a globetrotting romance where we shared our thoughts, photos, videos, drawings in a voluminous private blog. After a year of writing, with an intention of using the raw material for a creative project, we broke up. I asked if I could use the content anonymously and Marynell answered, yes. So, I travelled to Thailand and wrote the book. For “Afterparty,” my birthday coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, when U.S. President Lyndon Johnson asked for extraordinary war powers to escalate the conflict in Vietnam. The incident, an attack by two North Vietnamese vessels on the USS Maddox, never happened. It was a radar malfunction. On that anniversary, ISIS jihadis were marauding across Iraq and I wondered, are there fresh narratives or ways of exploring the real human and financial outcomes of military interventions? So I ran a Kickstarter campaign, strapped on a backpack at 59, flew to Guatemala City and travelled around the world to find out.

In that campaign, you raised $10,135 from 62 backers to help bring this project to life, meaning that you were successful in your initial Kickstarter goal of ten thousand dollars. What made you think that Kickstarter was the right avenue for the funding of this project?

The risk with Kickstarter is that if you fall short of your goal, you get nothing and no one’s credit card gets hit for the funds raised. But it is the largest crowdfunding platform by a margin of 6:1. So it was an attractive choice. Several funders, including one for $1,000, were complete strangers. I did a second, smaller campaign to fund a press tour and updated edition with photos.

“Finally, the developing world is not the dangerous hellhole that some people suspect. I was treated with kindness, generosity and hospitality wherever I went. My motto for the trip was, “Daring, Not Stupid.”

Your research for WAR: The Afterparty, brought you to, what some may call, dangerous places, (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan etc). How did you decide whom best to interview? How did you go about this?

This was the biggest challenge. Could an unknown independent writer find, then get people to open up about often painful, intimate stories. There were three primary methods of finding interview subjects. One, through my decades-old network in media, journalism, business and foreign policy. Two, by tracking down my target subjects, sometimes via serendipity such as chance encounters and pressing for friends of new contacts to help me. Third, by just showing up, whether at a newspaper office or a historical site.

During your journey, you visited Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Europe and Central America. Did you face challenges in any of these countries? If so, can you tell us about one or two of these stories?

In Iraq, I was interviewing a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter and he mentioned that his brother was a commander at a front-line Iraqi Army base. He asked, would I like to interview him. So, I found myself hanging out with soldiers behind sandbags and weaponry watching ISIS artillery probe the base perimeter a short drive from Mosul. In Kabul, Afghanistan, I found myself in an argument with an Islamist. Despite being warned never to admit where I was from, I told him I was an American Jew and pressed him for his views on religious tolerance. In Iraq, I was being shaved with a dull straight-edge razor in a refugee camp when an old man in Arab dress screamed in my ear that I f—ed his country while my interpreter laughed hysterically. The ongoing challenge was finding interviews in real time while buzzing through countries organising and transcribing the material in blog posts and making sense of the context and insights while solving visas, laundry and bus schedules.

If I, as a writer, wanted to venture into dangerous zones, for whatever my project may be, what advice would you give me as someone that wants to step off the beaten path and explore the unknown by simply asking people without preconceived notions their side of a story?

First, you need to be passionate about the story. Is it worth doing to you? Second, do your research and measure the real dangers and ways to control risk. My friends and daughters insisted I not go to Afghanistan. But over the last 10 years, the number of killings or kidnappings of non-combatants in Kabul is in the single digits, around six in a city of 4.2 million. I’ll take those risks. Finally, the developing world is not the dangerous hellhole that some people suspect. I was treated with kindness, generosity and hospitality wherever I went. My motto for the trip was, “Daring, Not Stupid.”

That sounds like a great motto. For someone who has been successful at launching both a fiction and nonfiction book, is there any advice you can give to aspiring authors who are interested in composing their first novel or autobiography?

Separate the creative project from the commercial process, unless your motives are mostly commercial. As I told Brian Lamb during an interview on C-SPAN, if you have the idea, particularly if it involves travelling the world, do it, and the costs are less than you might think. Self-publishing, crowdfunding, web-based travel, content creation tools make this the best time in history to do audacious literary projects. Analyse your motivations, then err on the side of action.

With host Brian Kilmeade after interviews on Fox News (TV) and Fox News Radio.

Are you as excited as we are? We thought so. Bring your notepads and come join us for nine hours of informative discussions on mastering the art of storytelling.

Workshop Schedule:

3rd May, 11 am – 2 pm, join us to learn – Telling Stories: The Art of the Interview.

4th May, 11 am – 2 pm we will be covering – How to Tell Your Life Story.

5th May, 10 am – 1 pm we will master Leveraging Web Tools to Tell Your Story.

Care to brainstorm your boldest ideas with an author, coach and media entrepreneur? Contact us here for more information: https://contentcastle.asia/contact/

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