Interview With An Author Ashley Brandt

Could You Tell Us About Yourself ?

I’m a 34 year-old wife and mother of two boys. I am a paramedic in north Texas and I have been working in EMS for eight years. I love my job! My husband and I are currently working to foster/adopt children.

What made you write your book (s) ? 

I’ve been writing stories since childhood, and it’s always been my dream to be a published author. When I completed my first novel, I decided it was time to take the leap and see where the publishing path led me. I wanted to make an honest attempt at achieving my goal, and if I was unsuccessful, at least I could say that I’d made the effort.

What is the first book you remember reading ? 

I can’t remember the first one, specifically, but my mother used to read the little golden books to me. As an older child, I loved reading Mary Higgins Clark mysteries.

What’s your favourite book ? 

I love the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris.

Who is your favourite author and why? 

I am a huge Charlaine Harris fan! Anything written by her is an immediate favorite.

How many hours a day do you write?

That varies, depending on the amount of free time that I have. On average, I’d estimate I spend between an hour and four writing a day.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer? 

I’d probably give up television.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I think organizing my ideas into a consistent story line and then presenting it well are difficult parts the my process. I have so many ideas, but getting those ideas out onto paper and making them easily understood can be challenging.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why ? 

Hands down, I’d choose Charlaine Harris. She is unique in her character personification, story lines and overall story-telling style. She has a voice that is all her own, and she doesn’t compromise it.

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

I need a certain amount of quiet, because I get distracted easily. 

What’s your favourite writing snack or drink? 

I try not to do a lot of snacking while I’m writing, but I love coffee and sometimes I’ll drink a diet soda or indulge in some sour cream and onion chips.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book? 

Typically, I’ll celebrate by sharing or starting another book!

Do you listen to music while you wrote your book (s) ? 

I usually don’t listen to music. I’m told it’s great for inspiration, but it’s distracting for me.

Where do you get your idea (s) for your book (s) ? 

I’ve always been a daydreamer, which is where I tend to get a lot of my inspiration; but I’ve also gotten ideas from dreams or pieces of history.

What is / was your writing process like? 

I’m not very organized when it comes to my process. I find that I enjoy the writing better when I get my ideas out on the page first and then fine-tune as I near the conclusion of my story. If a plot is particularly detailed, I’ll take a few basic notes. I edit as I write, and then make several editing sweeps once I’m finished.

Do you try more to be original or rather give readers what they want?

I try to be original with my stories. It’s always tempting to mold your stories after what you perceive is trendy, but I feel like my writing is similar to my personality- you can’t please everyone all the time, and the right people will enjoy your writing for what it is, as long as it’s quality work.

How did publishing your (first) book ? 

My first book, Moya Lyubov, was self-published through Amazon. I knew I had a lot to learn before I was ready to query the traditional publishing companies.

What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? 

I typically rely on internet sources for my research, but I’ve utilized books and even television documentaries, too. It all depends on the content.

How do you develop your plot and characters? 

When I come up with a plot, I try and use a variable character cast. I like to insert different personality types in the story, because it adds flavor to the plot itself. I think about the different characteristics and quirks real-life people display and I adapt them to my characters.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book (s) ? 

My favorite part of publishing is receiving that acceptance email from the publisher! I absolutely love the developmental and collaborative process with the publisher, such as cover design, etc. My least favorite part of the waiting! Publishing a book is an exciting experience, but every stage takes time to get it right.

What part of the book was the most fun to write? 

I enjoy writing the climax of the story the best, because it’s the point of the story where the problems come to a pinnacle.

How did you come up with the title for your book (s) ? 

I usually determine my titles based on certain sayings or sentences in my story that I like.

Would you and your main character get along?

Absolutely! I think my main characters tend to share certain personality traits with me.

If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them? 

I would encourage them. My main characters are always confronting some sort of internal battle or trying to navigate the world around them, and I would assure them that they are heroic no matter their circumstances.

Which of the characters in your book (s) do you relate to the most and why? 

In my latest novel, Coyote, I relate to Raven Thatcher in some respects because she is torn between different cultural expectations. Raven wants to become her own person and live her life in a way that is meaningful to her, but she feels obliged to conform to the ideals of her pack. Despite her dilemma, Raven is fiercely loyal to her friends.

What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft? 

I have improved in terms of my editing resources and approaches. I think the first draft is always rough around the edges, but the result is polished.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader? 

The ideal reader is anyone who enjoys the paranormal, or thriller/romance. 

What did you edit out of your book (s) ?

I edited some foul language out, as I felt it was not necessary to the characters. I incorporated it initially to give them an edge and make them seem more realistic, but I found I didn’t like the idea of putting that content in books designs for a younger audience. 

What was your hardest scene to write? How long did it take for you to write a book ? 

The hardest scene to write for Coyote was probably the laboratory scene. I had to find a way to describe the sterile environment without boring readers, and to maintain the pace of the novel while giving detailed descriptors of Raven’s new environment.

What do you hope your readers take away from your book (s) ? 

I hope that readers are entertained by the story itself, but I hope that they identify the realistic aspects of self-discovery and identity development. These are issues that we face throughout our lifetimes, and I felt it was important to Raven’s character.

What was the hardest part of writing your book (s) ? 

The hardest part was maintaining a steady pace. As the plot thickened, it was difficult not to jump ahead and get to the “good stuff”, but part of a good story is the way it builds anticipation before a major event.

Did you get some negative feedback on your book ? and if so how do you deal with that ?

So far, the feedback on Coyote has been positive. I am a perfectionist, so whenever a reader leaves a less than perfect rating, I’m always interested in the parts of the story that may have been lacking. I deal with this by concentrating my efforts on improvement and using the negative feedback as a means of identifying the opportunities for growth.

How did you feel when you first published your book (s) ? Scared ? Excited ? Nervous ? 

I was very excited! However, any time you create something and submit it to the general public for judgement or consumption, there’s always this nervous anticipation. Will they like what I’ve created, or will I be embarrassed by the results? Also, my writing is reflective of me on some level, so it’s almost like telling a stranger your secrets! What will they think of me after reading what I’ve produced?

Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book ? 

Coyote is available on Amazon.com and Blossomspringpublishing.com.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about? 

Yes! Blossom Spring Publishing has signed a contract with me to publish the first book of a three-book series. The first book is titled, Creatures of Chaos. It is a YA fantasy about teens with legacies similar to those of the Greek gods/goddesses.

After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers? 

My advice to aspiring writers is to pace yourself and do your research. Understand that there will always be negative feedback and encouraging people on any endeavor. Let the positivity feed your soul and the negativity foster your growth. Be persistent and be willing to learn and develop your skill.

What are common traps for aspiring writers and have you faced any of them ? 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies that target new authors who are not well-informed or experienced and they charge exorbitant fees to help them get published, or to market their work, or all of the above. I would caution authors to do their homework. Research companies before you sign any contracts or agree to any payments. 

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? 

Of course! I always enjoy receiving a good review, and knowing that someone has enjoyed my book. The positive reviews are very encouraging and the negative reviews can be discouraging but helpful when it comes to learning how to improve. I’m always thankful when readers take the extra time to tell me what they thought.

Is it something more you want to tell us which I forgot to ask about?

One of my biggest concerns starting out was the fact that I felt underqualified to be an author. I don’t have any advanced writing degrees or reputable endorsements, and everything I have accomplished has been due to hard work and persistence. I would encourage aspiring authors to abandon the idea that they aren’t qualified simply for those reasons. If you can tell a story, you are qualified.

Her Websites / Social Media

Website

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