Author finds encouragement from coworkers

Published 5:04 pm Friday, September 11, 2009

Just eight months ago, B. R. (Brian) Woods, surrounded by four laptops, character notes, character photos and stacks of paper, was completing the 90,000-word draft of his first novel.

Today that novel is on its way to publication and release mid-November. Woods lived a rich fantasy life as a young boy, often pretending to be a knight riding through the woods near his home. Ever observant, he found himself bothered by the hard times adversely affecting the nearby Tallahassee area during the Reagan administration. Repelled by the negativity of television, he preferred playing alone and letting his imagination run freely.

“I had swords and an English longbow and I made my own chain mail armor out of circles made of soldering wire. I took riding lessons and my step-dad made me a wooden lance,” he said.

From the age of 12, he kept a journal, a tool he still uses and recommends, writing as an outlet for emotional expression. Woods was also an early and voracious reader of fantasy fiction.

“I admire honor, loyalty and chivalry and these attributes are rarely found in a true story,” he said.

Over the past five years, he has written at least 80 drafts of potential stories, dedicating about 20 hours each week to the process. He uses a recorder to ‘jot down’ ideas that may come to him when he is not at the computer.

Woods was working at Vestavia Express Oil Change in 2005, reading in the pit during down time. He found himself critical of most of what he read and he credits fellow worker Michael Tice for encouraging him to write a book expressing his own view.

Along with the writing process, he spent time researching how medieval weapons were crafted in the Middle Ages and studied fighter pilot maneuvers and flight patterns. Woods also extensively studied the fantasy book market and that contributed to his decision to write for young adults, ages 12-18. The first book in a planned series of 15 is called “Stories of Anduale.”

“There are gargoyles and dwarfs riding horses. The main character, Decatia, is a girl who is a mix of nocturn and gargoyle and is hatched from an egg,” said Woods.

Woods, who continues his day job at Express Oil Change, said the company is supportive of his dream and will permit him to market and promote his first novel in the lobby of all their locations.

Woods will speak about writing short stories at the ‘Think It, Then Ink It’ writing series Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Helena Library.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at