June 1, 2004
Engineer Trades Machines For Manuscripts
Write on brother! In 2001, Brian Egeston walked away from a high-paying job as an engineer with Motorola to pursue his dream of becoming a successful author. And even though he earned less than half his engineering salary the first year as a full-time writer, the best-selling author says the career switch has been worth every solitary word.
Yet, the transition from writing part time, for pleasure on weekends, to writing full time, has not come without sacrifices for Egeston and his wife, Latise. “We had a really nice combined middle-class income [when I worked as an engineer]. It’s really material sacrifices more than anything else,” says Egeston, whose books are based on family values and tradition.
Some may wonder what prompted the career change for Egeston, who has published five books so far — most recently Catfish Quesadillas (Carter-Krall Publishers; $13) — and is writing another book. “I come from a place and generation where there’s a large emphasis placed on just getting a good job and making good money,” Egeston says. He was content with that mind-set at first, but eventually it wasn’t enough.
About a year and a half into his career, Egeston started to feel the engineering grind. His hand itched for the pen and a blank sheet of paper to unleash his imagination in words. Three or four years later, he and his wife began a dialogue about how their lives would change if he left corporate America.
Changes at work served as the impetus for Egeston to become an author. As his job began to downsize, he was offered a severance package that allowed him to pay down some of his debt. After crunching some numbers and talking to his wife, they determined that with reduced spending, the dream to write could be realized.
“On Jan. 16, 2001, at 4:16 p.m., I walked out the door of Motorola, and on Jan. 17, I started writing full time,” said Egeston. The biggest payoff, however, has come not from writing, but the audience response.
At one of his book signings in Atlanta, Egeston met a teacher from Maryland. After reading just one chapter of his book to her middle school students, the class was so enthralled, they decided they wanted to read the entire book.
“I was able to go up to the school and spend some time with them. I later got a letter from one of the eighth graders, which read, ‘Dear Mr. Egeston, I really enjoyed your book Granddaddy’s Dirt. (Carter-Krall Publishers; $13) It’s really been a special experience for my family, because we took turns sitting down, reading your book aloud to everybody in the family. That was the biggest paycheck that I could ever get in my entire life! It was unreal to imagine that someone had taken a step back in time, and they just sat around the living room and were reading the book aloud to one another — something that I had written.”