In September 2012, I was just starting my editing service, and was reading some “Read to Review books” on Goodreads. My belief was (and is) that anyone smart enough to be using this sort of review process to get noticed was probably serious about writing. I wasn’t sure what I would think of Uniquely Welcome. Was I expecting some sort of Underworld/Twilight thing? I’m not sure. I had noticed a few reviews that had mentioned typos, so I said hello, we talked about the manuscript, and Brandy decided to give me a chance to edit her works.
What I didn’t expect was for Brandy to be a storytelling monster. She published Uniquely Unwelcome last year, the sequel Blood Burdens at the beginning of this year, finished the series with Sacrifice: A New Dawn a few months ago, and just published Broken Faith, the first of her new Spiritual Discord series. And my understanding is that there’s another manuscript headed my way in a month or so. So let’s find out a little bit about this prolific author.
JCM: Brandy, I get a military vibe in the discipline you have to handle a family and still be such a prolific writer and self-publicist. What’s behind your drive? Were you in the service or do you have family in the military? Did you inherit it from your mom or dad?
BN: I’ve inherited my mindset from my dad. He taught me that if you’re going to start something, then don’t only put half of yourself in it, give it your all. He comes from a military family but didn’t serve himself. My family is my number one priority, period. If they are all happy and fine, then I spend as much time as I can writing, studying, and researching.
JCM: So besides yourself, we have your dad to thank for your prolific output. But I think there’s a reason why you’re writing these particular kinds of stories. What kind of stories do you find the most compelling, and why?
BN: I have always been fascinated by mythology and folklore. One of my favorite pastimes is sitting around telling “good ole” ghost stories. This fascination is what led me to write so many paranormal stories, some published, some not.
JCM: I’m intrigued by what writers do in the creation of their stories. Do you plot out your stories ahead of time? Do you start at the beginning of the story and work to the end? What is your process like?
BN: I typically work out my whole plot for the entire series and then break it down by book, but that doesn’t mean I always stick to my outlines. As I’m writing and the story changes, obviously the series plot changes as a whole. So even though I start with a base idea I usually end up with a “working it out book by book” process.
JCM: I mention in the intro that some of your main characters are outsiders. Writers usually have a good reason for choosing how their characters act, and it often has a real-world connection. Were you an outsider growing up? Did you root for the underdog?
BN: I wasn’t an outsider and to be honest I never really did think about the people around me as outsider or insider. I just went with the flow. But with the awareness of bullying nowadays, and my love of the paranormal, my main character Racquel came to life. Her story evolves from outsider to a very important character the Shadow World ended up needing.
JCM: That’s one of the interesting twists to using an outsider character—she or he ends up being the very person needed to deal with whatever problem is facing everyone in the story. What are you trying to say when you create a person who is an outcast but who ends up being the most important person of that moment in time?
BN: Each individual is unique and different and no matter what society says, there comes a time when each person’s skills, attributes, and knowledge is needed in some situation.
JCM: Next, let’s talk a bit about the werewolves, vampires, shape shifters, fairies, and witches of your Shadow World series. What drew you to these creatures, and how did you decide you were going to write a story that included all of them?
BN: Since the main character, Racquel, is an extreme hybrid (a mix of werewolf, shifter, vampire, and witch) it was a given that those four races would be involved. I added a few more races (fairy, leprechaun, mer-folk) to make it a little more interesting. I am an avid reader of paranormal stories and find each creature fascinating. I was eager to add as many creatures as I could without making it complicated. Plus, I had to add my other favorite character besides Racquel: Queen Kaya.
JCM: Queen Kaya is a fun one. She also seems to be one of the few on the Council that Racquel has a lot of respect for. What is it about her that you like, and why do you think Racquel appreciates her so much?
BN: The thing I like about Queen Kaya is that she sees all and knows all but she refuses to reveal her knowledge to anyone around her. Instead she leaves riddles and waits to see how each individual will handle certain situations. It’s quite amusing. Racquel holds an appreciation for Kaya because she’s smart and cunning yet compassionate and fierce all at the same time.
JCM: You have a globe-spanning series in your Shadow World trilogy, but for the first book of the Spiritual Discord series a great deal of the story happens in and around a single house (and shed). Did you have to think out your scenes differently when writing Broken Faith?
BN: Yes, but it was also relieving. I felt like I was able to concentrate more on the characters and their stories rather than describing surroundings and locations.
JCM: Both series feature groups of people working together, or being thrown together by circumstances and having to deal with each other. What is it that draws you to the group dynamic as a writer?
BN: For me, friends and family are everything and they can lend help and ideas that a single person might not have thought of on their own. Plus the buildup of relationships and the friction between this character and that adds to the tension and interest of the story.
JCM: You reference a number of Greek gods in the Shadow World series. What do you find most interesting about Greek mythology?
BN: I find the different powers of the gods and who was who interesting. I’ve read several different fiction series involving the Greek gods, and find them intriguing. The family line of the gods and how everyone was tied together, the stories that can be built from them…. It’s fascinating to me.
JCM: In Broken Faith, you have an extremely unlikely duo in Kayson the angel and Sabrina the vampire. What was the spark for the idea of putting those two supernatural beings together?
BN: Without giving too much away, there is a reason I paired Kayson and Sabrina that involves the story as a whole. There are several creatures, half-bloods, that I could have used, but with Sabrina being a vampire there is so much more I can add and reveal throughout the story.
JCM: You’re four books and two series in; what do you think of writing and self-publishing? What’s easiest, and what’s hardest?
BN: I love writing, obviously, and self-publishing is great. I’ve made so many great friends over the last year and appreciate all the help I’ve received. The hard part for me is marketing. The publishing world changes on a regular basis and keeping up with those changes, keeping up with where readers are going to find new books, and what’s hot and what isn’t is very time consuming. My time is precious as it is and I easily get frustrated while researching all the new updates and such instead of getting to write. That’s what I want to do, write, not market. But that’s a part of it, so I’ll keep on keeping on and not lose focus. There’s always an up and down to anything a person loves to do.
JCM: I agree that the publishing world is in flux right now, and companies seem to be changing their rules by the day. As for finding books (or in your case, getting visibility for your books): some authors swear by Twitter for getting the word out, others say that getting masses of reviews on Goodreads is the thing to focus on. What’s been most successful for you so far?
BN: Both have been great for me so far but I like Twitter because I feel like I get more one-on-one interaction with readers, bloggers, and authors.