Monday, October 17, 2011

Hello, Gail Branan

1: Thank you so much for being here, Gail.  First up is the obligatory question. When did you first begin writing?

I guess that depends on your definition of writing.  If you mean as in putting words on paper like a mad woman in the midst of an obsession, not till my mid to late 30’s.  If you mean as in creating stories in my head and living in a fantasy world, I don’t ever remember not doing that.  I was the youngest child in my family by ten years, and we lived in an “old” neighborhood, no other kids around to play with.  So I became a “planet-hopper”, a “time-traveler” at a very young age.  I remember having regular little worlds, each separate, each with different characters, wherein I had specific identities.  Don’t think I was any more than five when that started.  Once, my older sister told our mother I had the least imagination of any child she’d ever seen, because I wasn’t much for playing dolls and tea-parties. And I remember thinking it was hysterically funny, even then.

2:  So we know you had an overactive imagination, what inspired you to write?

Boredom.  At the time I started my first novel, I’d run through every book then written by my favorite authors; the library wasn’t stocking new ones fast enough; and no book I picked up right then grabbed my attention.  So I thought maybe it was time to see if that ghost story that had been sitting in a corner of my brain since I was twelve could actually make it onto paper. 

3: Wow, you had a story stewing that long. We all know there's certain aspects of writing we like and dislike, what do you like the most and least about writing?

I love it when a plan comes together. I love it even more when a plan doesn’t come together and twists and turns and converges into something completely different from your expectations. When your characters jump up and tell you what to do.  When you’re actually watching a movie in your head and simply writing down what you see.  I think readers are most surprised when the writer is most surprised.  I love those moments.  And I’ve had quite a few of them.  They’re the best.

And conversely, there are times when what you thought was just going to flow into something wonderful absolutely refuses to move.  That’s the pits. 

4: We've all experienced that. I know you work a full time job, what do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

There’s something else to do except write?   I have a set response when folks ask me why I write.  Because I couldn’t have this much fun for free doing anything else.  But okay, sure, I admit – everybody needs a break.  When I know it’s time to stop writing for a bit, I love to watch movies, all kinds, comedies, suspense, fantasy.  We have a big collection.  And I do love to read, though writing sometimes detracts from the enjoyment reading used to give me when I didn’t write myself.  I think all writers tend to edit the books they read, as in, “I know that writer didn’t just –” when they see a discrepancy or a factual mistake.  Or a grammatical mistake.  We’re harder to please than we used to be. It takes more to impress us.  Which consequently makes us turn green with envy when we run across a really beautiful book.  My grandson’s five, and he was demonstrating the warped sense of humor that runs in the family by the time he was three.  So time with him is a hoot. 

5: Yes, authors are the worst critiques. Oh and grandchildren are a refreshing distraction. You said you liked to read, which authors do you like to read?

I’m eclectic in my tastes.  Two of my favorite writers only wrote one book each.  Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind, which I read the summer between the second and third grades.  You can believe me or not (most people don’t) but it’s the absolute truth.  Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, which I read the first time when I was probably 11 or so.  It’s only coincidental that the first writer is from Georgia and the second’s from Alabama; I’m really not playing regional favorites or anything.  They were just absolute masterpieces, eternal gems.  Growing up, I also loved Poe and Lovecraft, because they scared the bejesus out of me, Bram Stoker for the same reason, James Michener, who fascinated me since I loved history, Mary Stewart whose romantic suspense was absolute magic, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Alistair MacLean.  I truly love Thomas Wolfe even though he’s not an easy read.  He’s a prose-poet and his words are so beautiful they make me weep.  And I love Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, Kathy Reichs, Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts, Robert Parker, Tess Gerritson, Iris Johansen, Tami Hoag.  I read a lot of folks, don’t I, so maybe I’d better hush.

6: We love some of the same authors. Here's a more personal question. What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

That I never want to offer any reader anything but my absolute best.  That I personally pledge to any reader who ever considers one of my books that it is absolutely the very best writing I can deliver.

7: That's the most unusual answer I've gotten to that question so far. Tell us about your current novel, where we can find it and your website/blog.

Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights debuts April, 2012, thanks to MuseItUp Publishing.  It’ll be in the MuseItUp Bookstore, of course, and on all the sites MuseItUp Books are so blessedly sold, including Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.  My blog is Flowers on the Fence,
I recently contracted another novel, Down Home, which will be released September, 2012. 

Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights is the story of  Tess Ames, personal troubleshooter of the CEO of Miami based Ramos International.  Tess discovers that rainbows aren’t the only things career girls can fly over – or into.  The corporate plane carrying her to Jamaica flies out of the blanket of gray, swirling mist it’s been flying in for miles, crashing into a stand of hardwoods that have no business growing anywhere in the remote vicinity of where she’s supposed to be.   The riders on horseback coming out of the trees don’t look as though they have any business being in the vicinity either, especially the rider on the mount which sports the curving horns.  Tess has flown through a door to a parallel world, a world in which her rescuers, rough knights of the country called Trusca, are under constant attack by the Prian Empire, whose inhabitants are humanoid but pig-like in appearance.  Even worse, the Prians are cannibals.   Fortunately for Tess, she’s not the only American stranded over here.  An American pilot by the name of Johnny McKay has survived in this world for a long time.  And this world runs on magic, omens, portents, and power stones.  Tess has an impressive résumé, but no expertise in any of the foregoing categories.  Still, she’s willing to give it her best shot.  And Randalph of  Trusca – Dalph – the King of this parallel world’s country of Trusca  – well, he’s looking pretty good, too.    

8: Wow, that sounds fascinating. Here's a question I'm often asked, do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

If you’re a writer, write.  That’s about it.  It’s the be-all and end-all.  If your bottom line is making a lot of money, if you don’t care about the world and the characters you’re creating, if you wouldn’t write whether or not you’re ever published, if you don’t care whether or not your finished product is the absolute best you can make it – well, I hate to break to you, but you’re not really a writer.  And if you’re really a writer, if you’ve really made your finished product the best you can make it, and if you’re really persistent, sooner or later, someone will notice as you continue to throw your heart out there. 

9: Great advice. Another one, I'm often asked, do you base your characters on real-life people?

Show me a writer who says his characters aren’t based on real people and I’ll show you a liar.  Of course, all characters are based on bits and pieces of people the writer has known and observed through the years and combined in whatever combination fits the plot.  How else would they be believable?

10: I absolutely agree.   Another question people frequently ask, where do you get your ideas and what inspired you to write this book?

Ideas come from everywhere.  Memories.  Realities.  This particular book was born  because I wanted to do an historical romance – sort of – but I didn’t want to do the research for it.  But – if my heroine went through the Bermuda Triangle into a parallel world, I could make that world into anything I wanted, now couldn’t I, and who could gainsay me? As an added bonus, I’d been playing around for years in my head in a parallel world I created when I was about five.  I’d forgotten about that world.  Grown-ups tend to forget their magic as they age.  But one advantage to being a writer is that they find the magic easier to recover than most folks.

11: That makes perfect sense. It's fun creating your own world isn't it? What are you currently working on?

At the moment, I’ve just finished a re-write on a crime thriller with paranormal overtones.  I call it a Redneck Espionage Plot as the fictional setting’s based in my home county.  My rural home county.  I’m also running through a dark horror novel that’s been finished for a while, in the hopes that it’ll find a home after another polish.  I find distance invaluable in polishing a book to the best of my humble ability.   I’ve also got an urban fantasy plot going that I’m in hopes might turn into a series.  And at the back of my mind is the thought that if Tess and Dalph are well-received, there might be several more novels in the Truscan (K)nights series.   

12. Well you're certainly keeping busy. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I didn’t bore you enough already?  Well, I have this secret yen for another career as a bounty-hunting private detective.  Maybe I’ll work on that.  But now, thank you, darlin’, I’ll graciously take my leave, with thanks for having me on-board today.  I’m honored.  And as I leave, can I just drop this little excerpt off ?  Tess is seeing Dalph’s city of Trussa, the Truscan capital, for the first time….

We moved out and over one hill, into a meadow, and then over another hill.
And before us spread Trussa.
Dalph stopped at the top of the hill. I turned my head around to catch his expression. It was full of fierce pride, of pleasure at his homecoming, of dedication. Johnny was absolutely right. Dalph lived for this country. And based on knowledge gleaned from my entire 24 hours of residency, I was sure that one day he would almost certainly die for it.
Johnny pulled up beside us.
“I ain’t in Kansas anymore,” I said.
He laughed. “Damn sure ain’t, baby girl.”
The walls and battlements constructed of a white material without a shadow of gray gleamed under the afternoon sun. They reflected a pinkish glow under the rays of the red sun. Behind the walls I saw buildings of one and two floors constructed from the same stone and a golden, glowing wood. Bright pennants flew from many roofs. And in the center of the stronghold stood what had to be the Rata, complete with towers and turrets.
“Does it have a drawbridge?” I asked. “And a moat?
Johnny laughed. “No. The town is its moat. And nobody and nothing’s ever gotten past it.”
“Welcome to Camelot,” I said softly.
Johnny laughed again. “Yeah, and theres even a Round Table. Of sorts. But for Gods sake, don’t expect armor. Dalphs knights have protection of a different sort.”
Dalph spoke then, and though I didn’t understand the words, the meaning was clear.
“Enough.” And he lifted his hand again, and the riders started forward.


Jane Richardson said...

Gail, you sound like such a lovely, witty, warm lady! I know you're going to have fabulous success with your writing. :)

Super interview, Roseanne - thanks!

Jane x

Tanja said...

I loved it! Seems like you two had a ball, tossing Qs & As like that! Oh STOP her, someone, becaus when she begins punning she never stops...

lionmother said...

Roseanne, great interview with one of my favorite people here!! Gail, I love your answers to Roseanne's questions. I can't wait until your book comes out and I can read it!!!

Lin said...

Okay, they tell me pride is one of those seven deadly thingies, but I cannot help myself. I feel such immense pride being able to share my creative world with women like these. How many other people get to spend their days brainstorming about alternate worlds, pig-like creatures and yeah, hominy grits. Gail brings us all that and more, and wraps it all up in a saucy sense of humor I want to have when I grow up.

Okay that last might have to wait until my next incarnation, unless I slip into an alternate world where it shaves forty years from your age magically, but I will continue to hope.

Great interview Ladies.

Karen Cote said...

I learned one thing today. I absolutely have to meet this artist!!! What a blast we would have. I'd pick her brain and she'd blow mine. What a dynamic personality.

Gail, I know the glimpse you give in communication here and on the blogs as colorful and entertaining as it is, doesn't compare to how I'm sure you let go in the stories you write.

You are beautiful, sexy and sassy! Love it. Love you.

Thanks Ro. Great questions to bring out our Tiger Lily.

gail roughton branan said...

Oh, my Lord! It's almost noon my time and I'vejust hada chance to visit the blog and see all the comments! All of you are among my most favorite people in the world and true gifts from God, my reward for some past good deed I don't even know I did. You have to be. Lin. None of us will ever grow up. We don't want to! What on earth would that do to the magic? All Musers are special, but the collection represented by the above comments -- you are all treasures in my heart and flowers on my fence. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, and I love you all!

Pat McDermott said...

Enjoyable interview, Roseanne and Gail. Great to start the day with a smile! I look forward to reading your book, Gail. Best of luck with that planet-hopping, time-traveling imagination of yours!

Michelle said...

You and I have some things in common where our childhood is concerned. I was an only child with a small extended family - all of them older than me. Our neighborhood was older with no playmates. SO I was on my own...but not really. I had a few imaginary friends rolling around in my head, too. It was fun and now as an adult I'm putting them all on paper so, hopefully, everyone can "play" with them like I did for so many years.

Great interview. Thank you for sharing.

Concilium, July 2012

gail roughton branan said...

I love that Michelle! Isn't that exactly what we try to do? You absolutely nailed it. We make our imaginary friends real so everyone can play.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Hi Gail, Roseanne,
Great interview. I am so interested to hear you wrote because you ran out of reading material. I haven't come across anyone else who found that problem... it's what motivated me to put pen to paper. Before the days of ebooks and unlimited access to new authors, the library couldn't keep up with my reading demand.
Again, being a grandmother is such a blessing. You had me there too!!
Loved the excerpt. Can't wait till Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights is out.

J Q Rose said...

After reading your fun interview, I realize we have so many things in common--playing with imaginary friends (mine was a horse)to favorite books and authors to of course losing ourselves in our own worlds of writing stories and more. Pig-like creatures? I gotta read this one. Really enjoyed Roseanne's questions bringing out your sparkling, friendly personality. Best wishes.