Monday, March 9, 2009
Brooks Brown - Class of 1999 - Author
Describe your experience during the tragedy.
Not really going to recount this part at length - it's rather difficult. Ran into Eric in the parking lot and he told me to leave. As I finished my cigarette off school grounds I heard the gunshots. Following the shooting I was exiled by the community, called a murderer, had my life threatened by many people, and had the CBI and Sheriff's office work their best to silence what my family and I were saying - that was had warned the police and the school over a dozen times and they had done nothing.
How has the healing process been for you over the past ten years?
It's been a long journey, to say the least. Thanks to the events I was emotionally stunted - and still am to an extent. Unable to deal with the feelings I regressed into the classic teenager at the age of 20 and acted out in extreme ways. I took to drinking and smoking to relax, and got tattoos and dyed my hair every color. Over time - thanks to my family and close friends - I didn't ever fall apart in terrible ways, and soon quit drinking and smoking. A major influence of this was the work I did with youth and my writing.
As I finished my book and began doing tours talking about school violence and youth violence, I was able to feel that I made an impact on the world and that greatly changed my perspective. After Bowling for Columbine that grew, and I was able to realize that the world wasn't filled with short sighted imbeciles, and that I could actually change things for the better. After feeling that I had no control for a long time, that was nice.
As of last year, I quit smoking, and began getting my life in order with steady work and a lot of passion for the things I was doing.
Update me on your professional life - what have you been doing over the past ten years?
I've been writing. I did pieces for NPR, various blogs, newspapers, websites and more. As over last year I am now a web producer at Lucasfilm and Lucasarts - a dream job for me.
Describe your professional goals.
I don't really have any. I just want to enjoy what I am doing and utilize my skills fully. I'm able to do that now, so my ambition is to keep it up.
About your book:
Title: No Easy Answers
Co-Authors: Rob Merritt
How long did it take you to write it?
1.5 years from concept to completion
How many books have sold and what outlets sell it?
I don't say sales numbers on principle, and it sells at Borders, Barnes and Noble and everywhere else.
Do the profits go to charities?
Describe the plot and the main messages of the book.
It is a profile not of the killers, but the environment that they lived within.
Why did you decide to write it?
I had told me story many times, and ultimately felt that the story needed to be available.
What sorts of reactions have you received from readers?
Depending on the person - those who were bullied champion it as a good case, those who are religious decry it, as do Littletonites.
What reaction do you want readers to take from it?
That Columbine was not only preventable, EASILY preventable.
Have you seen any changes as a result of your book or does a personal response from a reader stand out?
Multiple hand written letters from youth who tell me my book made them feel like they weren't alone is quite an accomplishment.
Did you have any reservations about writing the book?
How did other survivors react to your book?
Brian Rohrbaugh, father of a slain child whom I have strong difference in ideology called it an important book for everyone to read.
Have you been involved in any other Columbine-related projects?
The conceptual and production phases of Bowling for Columbine, and helped with the creation of Columbinus, an award winning play.
Has Columbine influenced your career goals? If so, how?
I've actually moved on from it - I would not say I've healed completely since the pain is still there. However, I no longer live in the world of youth violence. As I've learned countless times, people are unwilling to change or to see such things happening around them, so they quite deserve what they get. As I told MSNBC, I feel sorry for the children that die because they won't see the cause.
How did Columbine affect your spirituality?
Was atheist before, am Atheist now.
Had Columbine happened, how would you be different personally and professionally?
I would have gone to college so everything would have changed.
Looking around at the world today, what changes (positive OR negative) do you see as a result of Columbine?
Youth violence prevention is now not only for the inner city black areas of the country, it is now moving out to the burbs. As such, school shootings have increased in their velocity. However, Columbine itself has spawned an over-sensitivity to the things that parents at the time blamed (videogames, movies, and more) which has stunted America's artistic growth.
To purchase Brooks's book, click here.