BRIAN COCHRAN’S DEBUT NOVEL, ‘THE SPRING HOUSE,’ IS A STORY OF LOVE, LOSS, AND HOPE
What if a heartbroken man, reeling from the recent breakup with his boyfriend, found hope and happiness again through a supernatural home renovation? That’s the plot of “The Spring House,” a new novel that follows characters from the past and the present as they try to heal from past wounds and find love, happiness, and hope again. The book was written by author and former Georgia Voice reporter Brian Cochran.
“The Spring House” is set in Georgia and follows Sam, who has just broken up with his long-term boyfriend and is heartbroken following the split. Sam decides that this is the time to retreat from the world and finally accomplish a lifelong goal: renovating an old farmhouse. After finding and purchasing a dilapidated farmhouse, the novel’s namesake, he soon discovers that he’s not alone. The house has a terrible history, and Sam finds himself sharing the house with the ghost of a previous resident named Henry, who is also gay and soon bonds with Sam. Through Henry, Sam learns the history of the house, and together they find that their friendship is helping them heal from old wounds.
“In a way, the book is about finding your way back from being in a really bad place emotionally,” Cochran told Georgia Voice. Cochran said the novel also deals with the larger topics of racism and homophobia in Georgia, which he was inspired to write about after spending most of his life living in Georgia and experiencing or witnessing those things firsthand. After moving away, Cochran felt his experiences more profoundly the longer he was away from the state and said that he felt that he had to put those experiences into a novel.
Cochran said he didn’t have the exact story in mind, but rather he knew facets of the story that he wanted to include and let the story take shape from there.
“I had an inkling about Sam, and that he wanted to renovate a farmhouse, and that was where this started,” he said.
Since this was his first book, Cochran said he didn’t rush the process. Cochran said that initially, he didn’t really know what he was doing, but made it a priority to work on his book regularly.
“I took it slowly,” he said. “I wrote a few pages every day, and I read them to my husband and asked, ‘Does this sound okay?’”
Cochran said that apart from his husband, he also showed his writing to some avid readers he knew to learn what was and wasn’t working about the story.
After the story was finished, Cochran started sending it out to publishers. He initially faced rejection, but eventually found a publisher. After that, the process moved very quickly, and “The Spring House” was available for purchase just a few weeks later. Overall, it took Cochran about 16 months from his first day of writing to finish the story and have it published.
As excited as he is to have his first book published, Cochran said the process of writing the story involved many funny and touching moments that were also rewarding. Cochran found inspiration at odd and sometimes inopportune times, which led to parts of the book being written everywhere from an airport bar to his notes app in the middle of the night. He said his fondest memory of the experience, however, was a surprise his husband gave him once he finished the story.
“My husband’s not a reader at all, he has dyslexia, so I would read to him every day, or whenever I had a couple of chapters,” said Cochran. “After it was published, he actually read me the first chapter.” Cochran said that experience was the best of his novelistic journey. He said in that moment, he didn’t care whether or not his book sold. All he cared about was the fact that his husband wanted to do that for him.
While Cochran said he’s happy that the book is finished, he also said that it can be hard finishing a novel, especially after an author starts to form a bond with their characters. But he’s been happy that the initial feedback to the book has been overwhelmingly positive. Still, Cochran says he’s okay with people not liking his writing.
“I feel like you’re not doing your job if everyone likes your book; not everyone should like your book,” he said.
Writing, he said, is like any other kind of art: it’s meant to be disruptive. For this novel, Cochran hopes it can illustrate both the good and bad parts of the South and honestly depict the experiences that Cochran and so many other Georgians have lived.
“I feel like you’re not doing your job if everyone likes your book; not everyone should like your book.”