Spencer Brown was raised by book-loving parents in King, but it wasn’t until high school that he discovered his love of reading.

That love eventually inspired him to put pen to paper.

“I fell in love with a few writers and started taking it more seriously,” said Brown, 28.

After studying creative writing at Salem College, Brown began teaching writing at St. Leo Catholic School.

His first novel, “Move Over Mountain,” was released on Thanksgiving Day. The book deals with the beauty and sadness of life.

“At its core, it’s a Zen novel,” Brown said.

The official launch for the book will be Jan. 22 at Bookmarks, 634 W. Fourth St. Suite 110 at 7 p.m. Brown will read, answer questions and sign books.

Q: How would you describe your art?

Answer: I mostly write literary fiction. I’m very interested in characters and what compels them to do what they do. A lot of my stories begin with somewhat philosophical/existential questions and, though I rarely have an answer to most of them, it’s the journey of those characters’ exploring those “big” questions that gets me excited about a certain story.

Q: How have you evolved as an artist?

Answer: I started writing in high school, poems and lyrics that weren’t very good at all, but I just wrote as much as I possibly could, terrible or not. I started to really take it seriously in college and would force myself to write for hours every day. I would get frustrated when I would get 80, 100 pages into something, and know it was awful, but I would continue on until it was done. The biggest evolution, or should I say revelation, was patience. You don’t have to produce 100 pages every day. A lot of writing is done away from the desk. The subconscious is a deep and amazing tool for writers, and you have to step away from the typewriter or computer and take time to contemplate and mull things over. I read somewhere that Dante Alighieri went through hundreds of pairs of shoes while writing “The Divine Comedy,” because he took so many walks to think over certain lines. I take a lot of walks while writing. It’s not about getting words down or brush strokes down or filling up rolls of film. It’s about getting the right words, the right brush strokes. Keep working, always, but be patient as well.

Q: Who has influenced your art?

Answer: Influence can come from anywhere if you’re paying attention; I try to always be watching and observing the world around me. As for the writers, I’ve been most inspired and influenced by Flann O’Brien, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Conner, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, Charles Wright, The Old Testament, Joan Didion to name a few. As for the people in my life, my father and mother gave me the great love for reading that I have. My parents would sit and read with me every day. But seeing them read on their own and take the time in silence to contemplate what they read and later discuss it is something amazing. My friend and mentor, Kevin Morgan Watson, publisher of Press 53, has been a great guide and teacher since I first met him when I was in high school. Perhaps the greatest influence on my art has been my wife, Amanda. She is as brilliant as she is beautiful. She is my first reader and has no issue telling me what she thinks, and that kind of honesty is mammoth for any writer. She knows when to cut me down to size, and when to lift me up again. She has a keen eye and ear for writing and pushes me to think deeper and inspires me to always keep going.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Answer: As I get older and responsibilities change, time has become very precious. I used to work at a restaurant in the evenings, so I had all day to write and read. My wife and I had our first son this year and now that time to write has changed, it has been compressed into 15 minutes here, an hour there, and I’ve had to learn how to just sit and get to work in those little bursts. I’ve become very good at remaining focused when I’m working and cutting out all distractions. You have to maximize the time you’re given, even if it’s a few minutes to get a paragraph down. You have to think of it as the work you do, and take it seriously while you’re writing. It’s the only way.

Q: What does art do for you?

Answer: Art has the ability to truly cut you down to size. There are lines that have shattered things I thought were true, others that have opened my mind to completely new ways of viewing the world. Art can change us, and for the better, if we allow it. Our mission on earth is to be good people, to get to heaven and take as many people with us as we can. And, I believe, art can allow us to change and grow and continue the great conversation. Art has a language strong enough to fracture jaws, and yet it is soft enough to make the heart move.

Q: Any advice for other artists?

Answer: Keep going, no matter what. You must take yourself seriously and remember your love for the art you create. As a writer, I am constantly trying to capture that perfect image that is in my mind, and yet it remains always just out of reach. You never stop trying to chase it though. That’s where the magic is. You must treat your art as the work you do, but remember first and foremost that it is for you, not for recognition, not for money, or anything else. It should be fun. As Faulkner said, “Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing.” Just keep going.

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Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to lodonnell@wsjournal.com or call 336-727-7420.

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